I first met Professor Haley in my Latin I class last year and I had originally thought that she was a professor who was very passionate about Latin and Greek mythology (which she definitely is). However, I remember that during one particular class, she had told the class that she wasn’t feeling like her usually energetic self because of the Michael Brown ruling. I remember looking around at my classmates and seeing how uncomfortable they were about the racial topic and with seeing a professor getting emotional. This moment reinforced to me how unwilling students are to address uncomfortable issues which contradicts with how “open” Hamilton students supposedly preach they are. Not only this, but many students also seemed quite uncaring about this issue, which obviously deeply affected Professor Haley. I had originally decided to take Black Feminist Thought because Professor Haley was teaching it, but after our introductory class and the readings, I am very excited about the course material as well.
Like many of the other students in the class, the piece Facing Down the Spooks resonated with me. It is disappointing to know that even in the field of academia, Professor Kupenda was expected to come into class every morning with a big welcoming smile so that her students could “accept” her better. Why couldn’t the students “accept” her like they accept the rest of their professors? It is unnerving and unfair to see that scholars of color have to do so much more to prove their competency and establish acceptance with their own educated colleagues and students. When Kupenda’s academic dean said that she needed to teach the summer program “‘because you are black, you are a woman, you are a great teacher, and you nurture, mother, feed, and nurse all the students,'” (Kupenda 23) he effectively revoked Kupenda’s title as an educated scholar and indirectly called her a mammy. The purpose of a professor is to educate her/his students, not take care of them like children, so it was a highly inappropriate request. While this piece angered me, it also made me realize how ignorant I was in assuming that people of color are safe from racial injustices in the field of academia.
I really enjoyed the definitions about what a “womanist” is, especially the strong emphasis on solidarity, inclusiveness, and love for each other. The definition that particularly stood out to me was: “A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter, and women’s strength” which further reinforces the unconditional acceptance. This definition directly related to the line “I’m going to my Black sisters/ to women who nourish each other/ on belonging” in Jackie Kay’s poem So you think I’m a mule? These two pieces further reinforced to me how critical it is to become educated about the racial inequalities that still exist today.