Preface: Pushing privileged pillars in Canadian higher education

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.


Wilful blindness

Work hard


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

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