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Pushout ->

Researchers can act as transformative agents within institutions if they believe the institution can be redeemed. I don’t think residing in both the academy and in people of color’s communities is mutually exclusive unless we presuppose that the institution must be torn down and rebuilt rather than renewed. That said, researchers will be tethered to some extent by the contextual/cultural restraints of the academy’s professional standards and, as in any other field, these standards will not substantially change until there is a push from both within and without. April Baker-Bell serves as an example of someone working within academia to actively change its oppressive and violent paradigms concerning black women.

Relevance

Baker-Bell notes the tokenization she experienced as a black female on graduate student committees, DEI committees, and faculty meetings in her article “For Loretta: A Black Woman Literacy Scholar’s Journey to Prioritizing Self-Preservation and Black Feminist–Womanist Storytelling.” While she did personally advocate to make her workload more manageable, Baker-Bell did not reject the academy entirely. She recognizes that she must “be the change” she wants to see, and I imagine she continues to hold this view. However, she has faced distinctly different challenges than I can expect to experience as a white, cishet male.

Personally

I do not trust politics, politicians, or discourses concerned solely with attaining power through the domination and oppression of others. Like Tolkien, I believe good is achieved through the renunciation of power. My position could give me the potential to speak from a cultural majority perspective on behalf of those underrepresented, though I know this remains complicated and problematic. I see myself working toward mutual respect, equality, and rigorous epistemological methods in pursuit of truth as a researcher. I also hope to take every opportunity to oppose violence and prejudice in the culture of my workplace and profession.

Heart Lock

I believe this image resonated with me at the end of the course because it combines life, hope, and locked potential. I cannot say this for certain, as images often communicate meaning beyond the reach of words. Love remains central in my understanding of finding a better way forward for the rights and experiences of women of color, a key we must all pursue.