Sunday, July 12, 2020

A note to black professors at PWIs: Stop patronizing me in front of my white classmates

November 1, 2019
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After bawling my eyes out in a bathroom stall located in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building, it finally hit me that I just experienced the most embarrassing moment at Michigan State. 

Imagine coming to class in enough fear of being judged by your classmates for their critiques of your work, but then having to also fear being patronized by your professor because of your appearance.

Welcome to JRN 303, a class where you're supposed to be learning about hosting, announcing and interviewing. Instead, I am being not heavily criticized on my work I am producing, but more so my appearance. 

Yes, I know that appearance matters in broadcast, but it’s a thin line between being helpful and just being rude. 

Calling me out in front of my predominantly white class, insisting that I need to change my hair because it’s not suitable enough for broadcast is degrading. It’s degrading because, as a black woman myself, I should want to feel welcomed and looked up to you, but I can’t. The simple fact is I am being treated wrongly by my own kind in the worst way possible. 

Telling me I look like a 12-year-old in a mocking manner instead of trying to help me is beyond giving critical feedback. It’s coming for my character, and it’s not fair because I shouldn’t be treated as such.

It’s hard enough going to a predominantly white institution already, like I’ve commented on in the past. But being one of the only black kids in a class taught by a black professor who is treating you worse than everybody else; that aspect makes the experience so much more complex. It actually hits deep. 

It hit deeps because I am already not being taught by people who look like me. I am surrounded by people who don’t look like me. And now, when I am around somebody who does look like me, I am being treated the worst.

It honestly makes you feel small to be in a space where you can’t feel comfortable. I’ve gotten over the stigma of being the only black girl in the class, but now I am in a position where I am one of the only black girls in the class who gets ridiculed the most by her black professor. 

It’s a situation that you never want to be in. No matter what skin tone you are, what you believe in or any of that. 

Here I am. A woman. A black woman trying to better myself and get an education in a predominantly white space, being ridiculed for my hair, my personality and the way I talk and dress by another black woman. 

But here I am. A woman. A black woman getting an education, opening doors for myself in a predominantly white space. Using my platform to let others know that if you have ever felt this way, you are not alone.

It doesn’t matter what skin tone you are, what your appearance is or how you carry yourself. Just continue to be you to the fullest.

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