“To encourage/demand/impel others to think otherwise. To think otherwise about racial politics - the mixed-race future, the flexibility of whiteness. To think otherwise about intergenerational and ancestral trauma - how do we remember histories we were not present in, but are so intimately present in us? So what? - To think otherwise. To think otherwise, with and alongside others.”
February was centered on my journey - I wrote about how rigorous graduate school is, how I’m gripping onto many projects&students&deadlines and struggling to tend evenly to each of them; but despite how much it all is, I still kind of love it. So, clearly&queerly I wrote about how graduate school and academia are forms of BDSM. Most recently, March’s response featured teaching and my interactions with students. Teaching is to orchestrate, it is to facilitate, it is to perform. Teaching in the Women’s Studies classroom is both invigorating and depleting. Teaching about power, privilege, and resistance in our (and every) political moment presents an opportunity to unpack all the shit happening and to introduce models of communication where listening is valued more than speaking and where facts exist beyond stats. What are ways of organizing and ways of knowing that fall outside the bounds of what we see on our screens?
A few days ago I participated in Common Threads, an interactive and interdisciplinary symposium put on by the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland. The symposium brought together graduate students and faculty members under three themes - ‘Identity and Art,’ ‘Class, Public Relations, and Politics,’ and ‘Performance and Identity.’ We spoke informally about our projects and offered suggestions to others. As I was listening to people talk about the possibilities, challenges, and execution of collaborative interdisciplinary work, my mind began to drift towards my research’s lack of travel outside the confines of the university. I’ve been preoccupied with my work in the classroom or my time buried in books or crunching over the keyboard. Yet, I also recognize the stage I am in - I’m still finding my footing.
But, I’m almost in my 4th year and each year is a quest. Yesterday I spoke on a panel at UMD's National McNair Conference. The panel brought together McNair Scholars currently pursuing their PhDs. We spoke to an audience of undergraduates about our pathways to graduate school, our research interests, and lessons we’ve learned. When asked about the transition from undergrad to grad school, I told them to embrace their unique position in the journey. That the transition is strict and sharp. We all come into graduate school from such divergent paths. It is too easy to compare your training to another’s - To compare your practice and work ethic to another’s. My tita told me to always keep my feet on the ground. Push yourself and do the work, but breathe. I told the undergrads to own where they are and do the work they need to do. Collaborators and friends will come in the process. I was once in their seat and, in a queer-temporal perspective, I still am. So, I’m taking my own advice.
The writing muscle is one that requires constant and various flexing. While “the blog” has a representation of a quick and informal snippet, I’ve found that this form of writing is the most challenging. Maybe it is because grad school is training me to write for an academic audience. Maybe my writing practice is more familiar with a drawn-out pace. Whatever the reason, I’d like to start flexing a bit more.