I agree with TC in that I wish I had chosen to share a more personal story with the class. It usually takes me a while before I feel comfortable enough to share the more personal details with others. That said, I felt that the exercise not only challenged each of us to take account of our social location, but also establish this class as a safe zone for us to share our opinions and most importantly, our stories.
After leaving class on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but wonder when does someone else have the right to share someone else’s story? The story exchange exercise worked because both participants were willing to be open with one another, which solidified an unspoken contract of respect in our class.
Angela Mae Kupenda’s Facing Down the Spooks gave insight on when this contract is breached. Kupenda describes her horror when one of her (white male) colleagues demands that she share more about her private life with her students. Rooted in the haunting history of oppression, his entitlement to her story perpetuated the tradition of the white population’s total disregard of black women’s privacy. His lack of respect for Kupenda also highlighted the importance mutual consent when exchanging stories.
In speaking about academia, Annette Henry faced similar “spooks” to Kupenda. She describes several confrontations with students, “Dem nah work, But dem she dem want ‘A’” (Henry, 28). However, Henry illustrates her experiences in a different manner than Kupenda in A Wha’Dem A Go On Wid?. Henry writes in patois to remind us of the “goblins of slavery [sic] sexism, racism, and classism” that Kupenda speaks of in Facing Down the Spooks (20). Kupenda and Henry faced similar incidents in academia, but choose drastically different styles to share each of their stories. I can’t help but wonder, in what way(s) does the way we choose to tell our story say about who we are?