Friday, July 07, 2006

Sometimes I am still amazed when..

I manage to still come through and keep it real when the pressure is on. I am already used to sacrificing everything during the school year when I'm on my 21 unit semester groove in undergrad. But this IRT shit ain't no joke. Even with 2 hours of sleep per night the thick work is hard to get through and really work out to get the most of them. The pressure is on especially when facilitating time comes around which can mean two times a week, plus papers. I'm not jokin about this really being a boot camp! I love the high expectations, and I get really hyped at the thought of excelling at them.

The one thing that does get to me is when I can't find the tools necessary to get through the challenge. I've asked one of the staff members about advice on how to get through the work. He could only say that I will "find a way." I trusted him on it and just really pushed myself beyond the limit. One day after another of 2 or 3 hours of (discontinued) sleep and the expectancy of being able to be cognizant in class, bring in eloquently written papers, and plan and revise lesson plans for facilitation the next morning (or replan from scratch, cuz the staff help doesn't like your idea or even want to help you make it work) is practically suicide... really. We had one student have a nervous breakdown, and to be honest with yall, I've gotten pretty close to one myself.

Somehow, under the emotional, physical, and mental drain, somehow after feeling really unsupported and unheard by some staff, staff who are nevertheless well respected by other staff members, I still manage to come up and defend my intellectual point of view, my dignity, and my right to be heard. It still ain't easy. Not giving up is hard. It's always too early to give up, and I take these kinds of challenges as if my life, and the lives of those I love depended on it.

I am aware that these challenges will come up in academia, in grad school. I was surprised at having to defend the concept of authenticity in literature in a program like this. (The idea that an author writing in the voice of any experience, like race, sexuality, or gender, other than their own is unauthentic writing.) I strongly hold my ground under the concept of authenticity, especially when it comes to writing like Edwidge Dunticat's beautifully written Dew Breaker. There were other themes from the novel and general literary concepts I brought up that were strongly disputed in my position held in class by the two staff members, and during my and my co-facilitator's critique afterwards. They tried to chew us up.. big time. Unfortunately (yet still fortunately) I was the only one out of us two to continue to resist their attempts to silence our points of view. We left that meeting feeling like shit. Still, I'm not comming out of it this way. I scheduled a meeting with them next week to talk about these issues again, this time, I'm commin armed with extra evidence and documentation to defend my position (one that many others in my group and outside of my group held). I think this program WILL push me to my limit before I actually pass it and raise it some more.. in ways I didn't expect.

I'm also finding contradictions between what staff say and do. It's interesting to see some old cats, folx of color, who have been in the academic game for a while, and where they stand after years of the initials after your name. Of course this is more true for some than others, but I can name one I've already spotted (she's the youngest) who seems to be keepin it real (for one thing she validates the argument of authenticity). I am appalled at how one of the staff members ridicules popular youth culture, down to the baggy jeans and white tees. I'm not really surprised to find out that he is unflexible in considering various perspectives in anything from political ideas to pedagogical practices. He's not really the type to budge and build on to the tools that change has provided us with to better reach our youngstars. There's also alot of talk about CYA (coverin yo ass) when it comes to school and teaching regulations. As a radical teacher, its all about taking risks I believe, of course strategic ones. I don't believe that politics should stay out of the classroom. I don't believe that a child's identity can get in the way of them becomming affective learners, unless the teacher makes it an issue (so for me.. the hats stay on in class and pants can sag, so long as you can tell me how structural and ideological oppression is alluded to in the novel of the week we might be reading). I also believe that there is a need for praxis in our learning. While understanding the systemics of imperialism and oppression, we also have to talk about ways to apply it. Especially as teachers. This, I feel is missing in our seminars. Often times I get the feeling these intellectuals enjoy academia to, as my mentor would say, "massage their brains," than take on some real work. I'm even more upset that there are other students who feel this way but won't speak up.

Don't get me wrong though.. there are some dope things I am being exposed to. I'm being introduced to alot of new material that I know will be useful in grad school and within my own resarch interests. I'm already starting to build a support network with folx from both coasts.. beautiful people! And this is a great opportunity for me to learn some new ways to assert myself, as I know that I will always be challenged in my work, by people with higher status in various feilds.

We've had a couple of speakers come in and talk about the Ph.D experience, and I've been finding their honest testimonials really helpful in my crafting my academic course in life. I've decided to do the one year M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) English program, and teach for some years, knowing that a Ph.D. is an option, but not a necessity. There is other work I want to do in life and family is an essential factor in life I've been neglecting (both the family I have and one day want to start). I want to advance in my photography, write some books, and relearn the keyboard, flute, and congas again (yes, music is a part of my life too). One useful thing a speaker came in to say for us was, wisedom before knowledge...don't ever miss out on wisedom when the chance comes...


fiercelyfab said...

wow, Tigera, the program sounds tough.

And I take my hat off for resisting to remain silent amidst the pressure to agree with the majority.

on being-un authentic, you know what, that is so true. I've had issues with white women doing their research on for instance young black poor moms, when um they have no children themselves and are upper middle class and white. I'm like, why the fuck are you writing about this? These are real peoples' lives and here you have theories, quantification, and all the other academic almost useless to the REAL experiences of in this scenerio, young women of color lives.

Keep it up Tigera...and don't forget we're cheering you on, and I'll try hard when I get the chance to send you a lil something in camp-you deserve that and much more.

ciao and talk to you soon,

Tigera Consciente said...

Thanks Fab! Yea academia can be a real bitch, even when learning is what we want to be doing. There are so many power struggles involved... It sux having to face them in so many aspects of our lives. Life is a battle and we gotta keep that warrior mentality on point. Question and critique is a constant thinking process..

skyscraper said...

wow, girl,

ditto to fabi's words. seems like you're going thru some serious hellish training. i'm glad you're surviving thru all the tough pressure because it's still so beneficial even tho people are giving you shit. but they always will be, everywhere, anywhere. that's something i've come to finally realize, that nowhere and in no situation will you really be left alone and at peace. that we'll always be involved in antagonisms, majorities vs. minorities, strong vs. the week, powerful vs. disempowered, etc... what can you do with the fucking selfish and vain human nature?...

i know how it is, i just came back tonight after a killing law school boot camp in atlanta. wow, i'm falling off my feet and on day 2 i literally was so fucking drained that i'd seriously decided (98%) that i wasn't going to law school, that fuck it i was gonna take the GRE and apply for a Ph.D. program for next year, cuz even tho that's also copious amounts of hard-ass work, at least i'll read actually interesting and empowering books and research topics of my own choice, instead of doing this unnecessary monotonous bullshit with reading and analyzing archaic cases decided by some white conservative folk in the courts... blah, blah, blah; i was hating it.

but, by the end i actually found enough motivations to get inspired and to "re-decide" to go to law school.

i'm giving it up for you, girl--full force, loud applause, girl! seriously, i admire that you're going on and doing so well. for a whole month!? i would have been dead.

keep it up, mujer, you're endlessly inspiring! still waiting for those pikchas...

well, i'm off to bed--work is in few hours. i need to come back here and read more later. just wanted to stop by, see whatcha up to and say hi--i saw you updated your page.

that card is still comin'

Tigera Consciente said...

I'm giving you props for deciding to do the law school thing. I know when I get back to my peoples in da bay, my mentors might try to talk me into doin it PhD status too. I don't know if I wanna keep doin it like this. I really wanna get in the classroom and teach full time. Waiting another 7 or 8 years is not what I'm finna do. Of course the option will always be there if its what I feel I'll need later on..

Girl, I cannot imagine what it will be like surviving law school. You will need that support b/c it will make all the difference. I'm trying to convince all the great people I'm meeting here to apply for NYU (hehe) b/c they've been keepin me sane here really. Have you decided which law school you're headed to?