“Historically, African Americans often have shaped knowledge from different interpretive frameworks. Most academic units have written and shared notions of what excellence in teaching, research, and service means. Prior to the times when scholars of color presented their calling cards at the academy’s door, faculty memberss were pretty smug about the meaning of such words and phrases as “canon,” “rigor of thought,” “cutting edge,” “the educated mind.” Contrastingly, a survey of African American folk stories and literature reveals a distinction between education andedumacation. The space betweeen the two concepts is a contradictory space, as most complex spacces are. That is, even as most African American communities have praised literacy and education as the way to freedom and success, there has always been another discourse that says you have to watch out for white folks’ education, derisively called edumacation. In Ebonics, the extra syllables indicate poposity, extremity, as when Langston Hughes’s character, Jesse B. Simple, calls worry “worryiation.” Worry can stress you out: but worriation can kill you.Edumacation is academe’s corruption of smartness. Edumacation is what folks at home think you are getting when they start asking, ‘Now how long have you been in school? What degree did you say are you working on now? ‘Edumacation calls into question many of academe’s ironclad canons” (Royster and Simpkins, Calling Cards: Theory and Practice in the Study of Race, Gender, and Culture, 98).
Reading this passage makes me murmur “Amen.” I’m fortunate to have a family that has always recognized my academic ambition, something Mom and Dad observed when I jumped out of bed on my first day of school and assumed the school bus would be picking me up within the next ten-minutes. They don’t question me alot, at least not to my face, and I am grateful that I don’t have to contend with verbal insinuations that I’m here getting a Ph.D to get “edumacated.”
But lately, I’ve been having my own fears about getting too “edumacated”? I don’t have these fears often, but lately I’ve been having an eerie sense about my ultimate “arrival” at a Ph.D. What if I get there and I don’t like it? Sure that day is far away. But since I’m nearing the end of course work and trying to prepare myself for that transition, thoughts like these have began to linger.
See, I’ve always taken breaks between degrees, dipping in and out of the academy, per se. After undergrad, I took a job as a Proposal Writer, and within two months I knew that wasn’t my career. That following year I’d started an M.A program, and within a month of beginning, my job down-sized my position. So I started teaching, and loved it for a while. The combination between theory and practice was great. The kids were a blessing. But even as I was plugging away at my masters, I knew that the high school classroom would not be my career-home because I wanted more, and the college classroom seemed to offer it. These split appointments between the academy and the career world worked well for me because any time I wanted to leave one dimension I could take refuge in the other.
But now I’m plugging again, working towards the carrots of completing course work, exams, a dissertation. Working towards the carrots of publishing an article, giving a good conference paper, creating and teaching classes that are functional and true to my scholarly interest. Working towards the carrots of spending a Saturday night somewhere other than my office. I’m trying to try savor how much better I feel this year than I did my first year, and still trying not to stress about “staying on time” or focusing more on the forest than the trees in front of me. Instead, I’m trying to focus on the pages of my life instead of the chapters, or the whole story. But seeing the pages are tough when you’re a carrot-type of gal like me. And really tough when you go home and see your friends and family “living”. So tough in fact, that I look down at my books sometimes, or out the window at this week’s snow and I wonder, will my carrots taste good?
~I have spoken~