Some Bubbling Ideas

These aren’t fully formed thoughts but they are ideas I hope to pursue, either in school or after or just on the side via my writing here, in conceptual articles, or on the podcast.

  1. What is effective anti-racist (or more generally anti-oppressive) public scholarship? Can it be effective if it’s part of an oppressive system (academia, journals)? But if there’s no system, how can it be taken seriously by the systems that need to change? Accordingly, is a fully post-structual response useful, or is it better to create new structures?
  2. What truly moves a person along the anti-racism spectrum? I have possible answers, but I need to speak to people to find out and confirm my suspicions.
  3. Is there, in fact, a greater percentage than expected of “gifted” students of color who have mental health issues? (And then, greater than who, people in general, people at these schools, people of color in general?)
  4. How can “well-meaning” folks learn to see their own complicity in oppressive systems? I know how it happened for me, but does this have to be a purely intrinsically motivated change, or can it be fostered at all?



Lessons for Ezel

I’m not going to let Ezel take until he’s 32 to figure out what I did about race.

I’m not sure how he’ll be seen. He’s black, but who knows how dark he will be. Still though, I was 32 before I accepted the reality of how race and racism had shaped me, and that’s way too late.

My parents tried. Maybe I can’t do it for him and he’ll have to learn it for himself. I can be of more use in his schooling, if he’s anything like me and the kids think he’s annoying.

I just want him to be able to avoid the bad parts of what I’ve lived through, and not to feel that intense pressure to be accepted by the majoritized. I almost lost my whole soul trying to chase something that was imaginary. I hope, through my guidance and my work, I can ensure he always keeps his.

Which Angle?

Most of my writing and eventual research comes from the angle of different types of racial theory, mostly because of the central conflict of my life, the desire for acceptance and refusal thereof in white spaces, regardless of my family income, and the resultant belief that it was silly to consider racism because of my social class.

Consequently, and especially because I care deeply about plenty of individuals with money, it’s more comfortable for me to focus on race while bringing in other forms of oppression alongside it. My work must be intersectional (though I hesitate to use that word, since that was specifically about being a woman of color when it was introduced) or it is of no use.

I worry sometimes that my focus on race will obscure the need for class reform and gender equity and the like. But I also know that I am not a credible messenger on topics with which I have little experience. I seek to include many forms of oppression in my work, but my angle will remain tied to race (and whiteness specifically) and, honestly, in this country, we are so bad at dealing with race that there’s plenty of work to be done in that realm.

But I do want to be clear that advocating for antiracist ideals does not mean I will pretend that we don’t also need to fight misogyny, ableism, and, of course, capitalism. They’re all tied together, but we can only use but so many lenses at a time or else the argument becomes muddlged and unclear.

Just know that the liberation I seek is expansive, even if the angle is specific.

The Dilemma

I came up with a really great idea yesterday, one that I think I can pursue as a research, theory, and conceptual focus in my writing for many years, regardless of what I end up doing professionally (because I’m going to write no matter what).

I want to share it with the public because I want to be sure it’s as good as I think it is, but I also don’t want to share it because it’s not yet fully formed.

It is a challenge for me to hold onto an idea for more than a short period. I get excited and I crave the response that sharing it brings. I’ve greatly enjoyed seeing that people are responding to my recent publication (which is here, by the way, and you should read it), but even that was hard to wait for because it took several months.

Nevertheless, I know, if this is as strong as I think it is, that it can wait until I get farther along into my studies and my other writing. I can keep it quiet as an end goal, the big idea I am building towards.

I think I know I need to keep it quiet because I know it will work. Stay tuned.

New podcast episode and future endeavors

First of all, there’s a new podcast episode up here. You should listen and share. It’s about how the dismissal of rap as a viable artform (as opposed to reasonable and contextualized criticism of some of its trends and habits) is almost always rooted in Dr. Kendi’s conceptualization of “cultural racism.” Just me this time, but I think the point is made well.

Next week (the 15th, to be precise), I am making a presentation of my paper on “The Altruistic Shield” at the NYS TESOL conference in White Plains. (For those who may not remember, the altruistic shield is my concept of “A psychological mechanism among English Language Teaching (ELT) professionals which allows them to exempt themselves from acknowledging their role in perpetuating systemic racism and other forms of inequity by virtue of the altruistic or self-sacrificial nature of their work.”) I hope it goes well. Meeting with my dean tomorrow to suss out how accurate my instincts have been in the way I have planned my presentation.

This will not be my first conference presentation. By my count, I’ve done four thus far, three of which were at the New School, where I’m pretty sure I was allowed in because of their desire to support their alumni (understandable), and one of which was at the international TESOL conference in Seattle in March of 2017. That was the only “big” one I’ve done thus far, and it went very well. That, however, was as a consumer of knowledge, and this presentation is my first time as a producer of my own knowledge. Thus it feels very important to me, as a scholar and as a person. I know what it felt like to complete my first marathon and know I had changed as a person, so I wonder if these 35 minutes will feel the same.

The only times a presentation hasn’t gone well has been when no one shows up, really, and I start to flop-sweat and tap dance. People who attend are usually eager. People don’t really attend presentations in which they are not interested, especially when there are several simultaneous choices. I’m not famous enough to attract an audience that wants to come and jeer me (that sounds fun, though). Thus, my goal is to assume good will and good faith, and try to build upon that to push the listeners to take action. We’ll see how it goes….

I’ll be recording the audio of the presentation and will share via the podcast a week or two later. I also have another podcast episode recorded and edited that I’ll be sharing first.

And I am going to responding to a very exciting “call for papers” that is specifically about anti-racist pedagogy (there’s more to it than that, but still). There is no guarantee I’ll be accepted, of course, and it’s asking for 6,000-8,000 words, but whatever I write, I’m going to make sure it gets seen and read and shared by as many as possible. My only question is, do I make my smaller, calmer argument, or do I take a big swing? Both would be primarily opinion pieces as I won’t have my own data until a year from now. I am leaning towards taking a big swing.

The smaller argument is one that seeks to normalize the phrase “Teaching Standardized English” as opposed to the current titles for our field, which serve to marginalize and minoritize. There’s a fairly straightforward argument to be made there, that including the “ize” requires us to confront the dominance and opppression inherent in the field. There are good articles to be written on this.

The big swing, however, is one I am more interested in. And I realize, if it doesn’t get accepted, there is no reason I can’t look for a smaller journal, or hold it back until I have data to back it up. My concern with the smaller argument is that, even if a few people adopt a new title for their work, it doesn’t much provide a framework for their teaching and their management of their programs. You can switch your title and teach exactly the same oppressive lessons and pat yourself on the back. So if I take the big swing, and I succeed, it would be with a complex but comprehensible pedagogy that professionals could apply to their work, be it in classroom teaching or management. So I think I’m going to try. Worst comes to worst, I write something that I need to hold onto.

I am going to try to write the big swing piece in December (the deadline is Dec 31st) and the smaller swing piece in January for some other publication, so that I can have my biggest, boldest work out in the world (or at least under review) before my child is born.

I’m not hesitating any longer.

My podcast exists!

Please listen!

My own voice (boy do I hate hearing it) is a bit spotty, as it was recording online via my guest’s phone. I pressed the wrong button on my phone and thus my own recording failed. Sure is good that he also recorded it.

This episode is about “expats,” who is allowed to be one and who isn’t.

Anyway, I hope people enjoy it. I’ll be back with another in a few weeks, and hopefully able to keep having interesting discussions.