By Elaine Laberge
I have nothing to protect me: no armour, healthy bank account, powerful allies, dedicated mentors, or map to traverse hostile academic landscapes. I don’t know where all the dangers lie or what lies in wait should I transgress. That is, beyond being outed and ousted from academia. Beyond being sidelined, tossed away, devalued, disowned, Othered, caste in a box. The markings—makings—of a fine cover story of what I risk should I dare to practice what I am learning/researching. By too many in power, I have been reduced to a single story (Adichie, 2014), a “one dimensional woman” (Power, 2009).
Type a word
Fragmented segmented press delete
Take a breath type a sentence press delete
Take a deep breath manically type overflowing thoughts press delete
Air rushes to my oxygen-starved lungs
Run for the covers for cover curl up in a cover story protection
Delete delete delete They press delete
I offer no apology; I can’t afford to; I can’t afford to be careful. Anything less is soul-crushing silencing. I am engaged in public sociology, problem solving sociology, critical public sociology, which demands a courage that I fear I don’t have—must have—even if I have to gathered the tattered shreds of my confidence. Faux confidence will have to suffice; faux confidence must (shall/might) carry me through. I made a promise to mentors, master’s research participants, ancestors, myself—to current participants—and, those who are coming alongside me. Even when Power tries to fail me and erase my footsteps, I must continue to find a way forward. Yet, so many punishing narratives planted in me before I arrived at this university and department. So many explicit and implicit damaging narratives foisted upon me since I arrived. I resist, I think.
Prove your worth
Learn your lines
Learn your role
I revel in learning
I’m not your court jester nor your circus animal
Assimilate Colonial language I’m white—conform
Keep me out of sight
Out of mind
The playground was/is the academic battlefield
Academia kills the curious cat
I cannot afford to waste waste away sacrifice
Lies lay in the centre
Forced steps around a maze bound up
Empty promises. Broken promises. Faux-care.
Shadow supervisors unacknowledged mentors
EDI is institutionalized inclusion is Other/er/ing
Humble and penitent
I want to wonder; I want to write gently. I’m angry; I don’t make a sign. There is never going to be an Occupy Academia movement. It wouldn’t be news worthy anyway.
I hope one day that my research and work will be obsolete
I am obsolete
The forgotten cohort uncompromised