About Carmen Kynard

I am an associate professor of English at St. John’s University. I am a former high school teacher with the New York City public schools/Coalition of Essential Schools and college writing instructor at the City University of New York (CUNY). I have led numerous projects focusing on issues of language, literacy, and learning: consultant for the Community Learning Centers Grant Project in Harlem, educational consultant and curriculum developer for the African Diaspora Institute/Caribbean Cultural Center of New York, instructional coordinator for the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, seminar leader for the New York City Writing Project, seminar leader for Looking Both Ways. If the conversation is truly about multiple literacies, political access/action, justice for racially subordinated communities, and critical pedagogy, I am all in! My first book with SUNY Press (2013), _Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies_, makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement.

A Week in the Life of a Black Feminist Pedagogy: Day Three

I have met a lot of graduate students in the past three years: at national conferences, at talks and workshops that I have given, from personal emails/DMs, and in the classes that I teach.  I wish I could stay in touch with ALLL of them.  I have seen graduate students from seemingly every corner of the humanities and social sciences, and even some from math and science education.  There is one thing that they all have in common at this historical moment: THEY. ARE. MAD. AS. HELL.  I love it and hope with every connected fiber and tissue related to my being on this earth that they STAY MAD… MAD AF!

On day three of any given week, my Wednesdays, I teach graduate studies.  This semester I am teaching a course called “Intersectionality and Activist Research in the Movement for Black Lives.”  It’s a methodology course that tries to take seriously that a critique and refusal of neoliberal anti-blackness in higher education has to be achieved before our research can make a difference. There are 18 students in the class and at least another 10 still on the proverbial waiting list— there just weren’t enough seats in the room to let them in.  I make my whole day available to my grad students, up to and after my class.  I leave the house between 10am and noon and get back between 10pm and midnight.  I wish I could spend more time with them, but that’s as long as I can stay awake. So this day, day three in the Life of a Black Feminist Pedagogy, is all about teaching graduate students in the 21st century.

It’s only been in the past two years that I have even liked teaching graduate students.  Before now, I found them mostly whiny, nervous, and needy and I gravitated towards the undergraduate students who were just so much better at keepin it all the way real!  Graduate school infantilizes you, makes you feel like the big, bad academy and its arbitrary rules are beyond your grasp so you forget you a grownass wo/man who knows how to navigate and cut through bullshit (and you gon see a whole lot of basic bullshit in the academy; it ain’t nuthin erudite or difficult). It was exhausting being around so many graduate students who had no social awareness or critique of their environment or higher education and so just wanted you to hold their hands, give them rules/standards, and answer dumbass questions they should have been able to tackle with their own common sense. The graduate students who I meet today ain’t like that at all…. and they do solidarity like none I have EVER seen.  Like I said, their anger and disgust with the academy and the whiteness, patriarchy, and exclusion of their disciplines fuels them to act and to act up.  I love every moment of it.  They come with RECEIPTS every damn week. Yes, RECEIPTS!  Callin mofos out each week of class, naming the names and takin it to to folks’ face!  These graduate students understand the depth and possibilities of decolonial refusal.

I know this is a radically different era because it diverges so sharply from my years in a PhD program (2000-2005).  By the time I started dissertating, my advisors— Suzanne Carothers, Gordon Pradl, and John Mayher— supported and trusted whatever creative move I tried to make, regardless of whether or not it ended successfully because they valued my process.  However, getting to that point was a LONG journey.  My very first graduate seminar in my very first semester, a required doctoral course, was the worst class I have ever taken.  I remember it vividly.  I was simply cast as the antagonistic loud-mouth.  No one wanted to make waves and jeopardize their future opportunities. This meant that no one had a intelligent critique of anything. It was a curriculum theory seminar and it didn’t matter where you landed on the political spectrum, this class taught you absolutely nothing.  Because I worked part-time and did consulting as a full-time student with four classes per semester, I chose my coursework quite deliberately.  I just did not have the time to waste on useless reading and writing. This class pissed me off every week!  Many of our required readings came from the Brookings Institute. I was the only one who brought that up in class as an issue as, of course, the antagonistic one.  Most of the students in the class did not consider themselves conservative or right-wing like Brookings and yet they did not flinch or ask a single question about the relevance of this to our work.  After all, being down for the go-along eventually produces silence, complacency, and complicity.  Internet search was a REAL thing back then (though google search was still a baby) but my peers had not even bothered to do that because they were determined to obey.  If you asked most of them today, they couldn’t tell you what Brookings was/is or that Mickey D assigned so many readings from it (Mickey D is what I called that professor because he was about as real and deep as McDonald’s). There was only one required reading all semester about race (from Brookings) in a class about curriculum theory and nothing from a Black author.  No one said a word against it.  Not once. The class was so bad that even if you were a conservative, right-wing Republican, you wouldn’t have learned a thing, certainly not enough to get you taken seriously by Brookings.  Issa all-around failure.  Mickey D wrote on my final paper that he was not interested, as a white mainstream man, in my ideas regarding race, hegemony, dominance, and whiteness (his exact words) and gave me an A-.  I got an A in the course but still stomped my way to the dean’s office on his basic Mickey D butt.  My fellowship required me to present and publish annually and I so insisted that this would not be possible if I had to sit in submediocre classes that did not reflect current research trends.  From that point, I got out of every required course in the program and only took the courses I wanted to take.  It made no sense to me, as someone who studied language, to have to sit in classes taught by folk like Mickey D when someone like Ngugi was teaching across the street.  I fought for myself and won that battle… and I was the only one in my cohort and program/school who took classes with Ngugi, who taught me more about teaching just from his presence than anyone I had met.

I had no peers who battled our curriculum and program with me, but if I were a graduate student today, it would be different.  This is as much a rhetorical and linguistic shift today as it is a political/curricular one.  I see and hear this in the ways that radical scholars like Tiffany King and Eve Tuck have taught me, work that I see within the terms of what Tiffany King calls a “Native feminist politics of decolonial refusal and Black feminist abolitionist politics of skepticism”:

Native feminist politics of decolonial refusal and Black feminist abolitionist politics of skepticism … diverge from the polite, communicative acts of the public sphere…  they do not play by the rules…practices of refusal and skepticism interrupt and out codes of civil and collegial discursive protocol  …. The force, break with decorum, and style in which Black and Native feminists confront discursive violence can change the nature of future encounters…. Refusal and skepticism are modes of engagement that are uncooperative and force an impasse in a discursive exchange.

I can’t say all graduate students today are ready to burn shit down.  Many, if not most, are mediocre, careerist weasels with hopes of nothing more than selling us out so they can become the next celebrity tokens.  But there are enough dope, decolonizing, critical graduate students today to get some fires started.  There’s no way that I would go back and re-do graduate school. No one wants that but I do wish I had been in graduate school with the folk I see today. If I were a graduate student alongside the students I see today, I would be further advanced theoretically, politically, and ideologically because I wouldn’t be as suffocated by the mediocre theory and praxis that are often sold as the only viable options.  I feel sorry for all these fools with their Mickey D inclinations today.  Their days are OVUH!

A Week in the Life of a Black Feminist Pedagogy: Day Two

The biggest complaint I get from my students is that I assign too much reading and writing.  I heed this complaint only to the extent that I check myself that I am not being unreasonable with students who have to work to feed and clothe themselves and am not, thereby, making a college degree outside of their reach. Other than that, GAME ON!

For each class meeting, I assign a reading, whether undergraduate or graduate, with a short writing assignment.  I do not assign that one, major final paper at the end of the term. Instead, I opt for weekly short pieces through the semester culminating in a portfolio of sorts at the end.  Each week, you need to write/design/draw your thinking alongside what we are reading. I do not expect a coherent, linear essay or even written text for that matter.  I never assign a reading and then quiz students in class.  That takes up valuable time in class when they need to be talking to one another, pulling apart ideas, and piecing them back together again with their colleagues in the room who will see or notice something different.  I never assign a reading without a written text to accompany it.  I collect and comment to all of this writing as a reader, not a grader.  You are graded for doing it, not the form, grammar, or political agreement.  I won’t back down from this pedagogy, especially if students are reading about issues related to Blackness, gender, race, sexuality, bodies, and cultures.  I believe this pedagogy forces young people of color to do something school seldom requires of them when it comes to Black and Brown Knowledge: KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU TALKIN BOUT!

You see, when it comes to things like Black women’s histories, Black Feminist thought, Black radical traditions, Black queer theory, Black Trans studies, I meet students all of the time, undergrad and grad, who think they need to just come to class and discuss and debate “the issues.”  I just don’t respect mess like that.  Before you open your mouth on any of that, you gon hafta read sumthin, you gon hafta know a genealogy, you gon need a sense of an extant literature, you gon hafta #SayTheirNames, you gon hafta examine and look/listen closely.  Brown and Black students are not always expected to do this.  They are just expected to racially represent for a headcount; that alone will qualify you as a speaking authority.  Meanwhile, there is no hesitation, for instance, on that part of white students to condemn all of Black Feminism and Intersectionality Studies as essentialized identity politics (that’s how grad students say it) or racist and angry (that’s how undergrads say it) when, before they met me, they had never even heard the terms. White theory and scholarship do not work that way though— for whiteness, you are expected to know a FULL BIBLIOGRAPHY .

Many of my more mainstream undergrad students, for instance, are surprised that I expect them to read so much in my gender studies classes.  They expected to just come to class and argue and debate.  I’m real clear on why this ain’t happenin.  Why on earth would anyone want to hear what they have to say about Black Queer theory or Black Feminist thought when they have never even heard the terms and couldn’t name a historical or contemporary theorist or activist?  Blackness, you see, does not come with the requirement of a bibliography, not for white students or for students of color. This permeates the wider whitestream culture of academia too.

If a Brown or Black headcount is all that is needed, then anyone slightly malenated can represent the neoliberalist needs of a university or institution to perform master narratives of diversity and inclusion.  Once again, you do NOT need to know what you talkin bout.  I mean more than folk who are embraced because they are palatable to white comfort.  I’m mean people who are allowed to be a lil simple or outright dumb when it comes to Black and Brown scholarship.   You ain’t got to read, study, think deeply, or investigate anything to be an expert of Black and Brown issues … you just have to read the email request for your malenated attendance at a white function.

So, yeah, my classes ask students to know their shit before they presume themselves part of any critical discussion or any social change machine.  But that also means I gotta do my homework too. So on Tuesday, Day Two in A Week in the Life of a Black Feminist Pedagogy, I am fully taking advantage of the luxury of reading and thinking.  I have to skip my committee meeting this week because I am on another campus that day. That frees up the time I would have taken to review the lengthy materials beforehand.  Thankfully, I’m not giving any talks this week so I don’t have to do that prep work.  My phone conferences/meetings are at the end of the week.  My errands can wait until the weekend.  My deadlines don’t come down until next Monday.  So on Tuesday, I get my own self ready for my own graduate classes.  This week’s topic: Black Feminist and Indigenous Feminist challenges to post-humanism— in particular, what Tiffany King calls “Native feminist politics of decolonial refusal and Black feminist abolitionist politics of skepticism”  (and all the other posts: post-identity, post-race, post-intersectionality, post-composition, post-subject, post-sanity…. and the research methodologies therein).  It’s a good Tuesday!


A Week in the Life of a Black Feminist Pedagogy: Day One

I have decided upon a new series (though I have not finished the previous series: Academia as a Hustle/ Everything I Know about Academia I Learned from Rick Ross). This series will only last for one week though: Monday through Saturday (Ima take Sunday off from blogging because that’s when I spend my time responding to student writing).  I have been thinking a lot lately about the inherent hypocrisy of many “critical” teachers and scholars who have apparently found the answers to challenging our disciplines and universities.  From a life committed to Black Feminist Pedagogy in a neoliberalist university, a decolonial refusal of whiteness and neoliberalism in colleges today is a relentless, exhausting endeavor that is never easy. So I’ll take this week off to keep my own self in check, call out my own mistakes and challenges, and ignore the complicity that folk wanna disguise as political intervention and reflection. If you ain’t real careful, folk out here will have you thinkin veiled misogyny, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, and/or anti-Blackness can represent you.

So…my trek to campus started like every Monday… at the grocery store.  I have a writing seminar this semester for seniors who are majoring in gender studies.  After I spend the morning working on our class agenda, I stop at the grocery store to pick up food.  I know that the students in my classes are hungry by the time we meet at 3:05pm (and go until 5:45pm).  Most have more classes until late evening. In fact, our wellness center posted on the Gram that 15% of students at CUNY (City University of New York) have reported going hungry sometimes or often. That percentage is higher on my campus. I know what it’s like to have to study and go to school while hungry so the least I can do is TRY to feed my students in both body and mind (when my class size is at 36, I can’t afford this so we are struggling together in those moments).

Before this writing seminar starts, I meet with Kinza who articulates for me the DOPEST reasons why first year writing MUST be politicized via her own history in my class two years ago when she chose to write and design as a Muslim activist and artist.  She is interviewing me for a project and tells me she is inspired by me.  I don’t think she will ever fully understand just how much I am the one who is truly inspired.  I am the teacher I am today because of young women of color like her.  There is another young woman waiting to see me but I don’t get to meet with her because I have to run to class.  As soon as I hit the button on this post, I will need to email her and check in.  I am worried about the things she is going through as a young, poor, Black, queer feminist tryna make it and keep her sense of herself in tact.  I’m not sure how to help her but I’m damn sho gon try.

Yesterday, Rafaelina brought chicken, rice and beans, and plantains for the seminar.  She brought Nellie, who has been sick for quite some time now, some soup.  Rafaelina wanted to ease my burden and the money I am spending on food for the class. I am going to find her a really nice thank you card and put money inside so that she is not coming out of pocket like this.  As the mother of two, she cannot afford this gesture for the class but I am so humbled by her spirit and generosity. She won’t like that I am doing this. The class wants to collect for her and maybe I will let that slide at the end of term.  I just can’t bare to see a single mother spending her little bit on us as long as I have the money in my pocket.  I did promise everyone though that when they are ballers, they can take me out ALL THE DAMN TIME.  Funny thing is: I think they really would.

We spent most of class talking about the activists they follow in relation to the topics of their senior theses which all come down to four areas of study: Black feminist resistance; Black masculinities and sexualities; queer of color critique; and Latinx masculinities and sexualities.  They are paired in what I call accountability partners (I need a better term) so that they are explicitly responsible for someone else in the room and their partners’ writing. The conversations in class are richer than I can even try and transcribe here.  Somehow, someway, we have to center our own stories, push the boundaries of what counts as text, do digital design for counterpublic audiences, engage our own activism, and have some fun with it.   While Broke.  While Hungry.  While Black.  While Brown.  While Queer.  In a university system that invisiblizes the Struggle, at best, until it can pimp out students’ pain to be marketed&pathologized on brochures and videos used to collect white benefactors’ sympathy money. I get nervous every semester wondering if I am cut out for this job.

When I try to explain something about a writing task to the class, Nelly yells out: “what she is sayin yall is don’t be basic!”  Thank you, Nelly, for breaking it down and reminding me to just SAY. IT. LIKE. IT. IS. when I stumble.

By the time I get back to my office, I am exhausted from everything that transpires in class but there are more students to see, in my office and on my train ride home. I get home by 10pm.  Typical Monday.  So much more week to go.

Academia as a Hustle; Or, How Everything I Know about Academia, I Learned from Rick Ross (Part II)

Thank you so much to all who have supported my ideas and work at this website, especially with my last two posts.  Women of color have had my back in ways that make me so, so proud to be included amongst you!!!  I had so much traffic last week that this site crashed TWICE and forced me to reread/relearn the code on my webFTP when plugins went haywire.  And to the trolls: GET. OFF. MY. WEBSITE.  If you hate me so much, then why you here?  I will delete every one of your vicious comments …and remain completely confident and undeterred by all of you.

So back to the bus’ness at hand: the academy and its ways of doing.  I started this train of thought, “Academia as a Hustle,” arguing that Rick Ross’s “Everyday I’m Hustlin” is the best way to understand publishing expectations and rules in the academy.  I was so annoyed that my critique of a set of culturally irrelevant and culturally non-sustaining bourgeois professional conferences meant that I was somehow ignoring or hurting untenured faculty…. as if I am asking folk to jeopardize their careers as opposed to corporate managers’ requests to attend a conference that is doin nuthin for anyone but corporate managers.  I’m about knowing the rules of the hustle, staying committed to the real work and real solidarity, and seeing very clearly what spaces engage real activism and/or critical theory and which do not. I got so sick and tired of hearing WRONG advice (which I consider quite dangerous) related to the tenure hustle that I had to describe what I have seen and what I have come to know as honestly as possible. Now I want to talk about teaching in the academy where the truth gets even murkier… and the hustle is still on!

People will tell you all the time that teaching doesn’t matter, especially at research universities.  It’s more complicated than that so don’t get fooled.  I think of my family when I hear these quips about teaching. Anytime someone would do or say something so foolish that it deserved no reply other than shaking your head, someone in my family would just say: a brand-new fool wakes up ev’ryday.  That expression alone was a warning to stop doing/saying/believing whatever it was you were up to. When it comes to academics explaining the difference between a teaching college and a research university and/or the role of teaching in one’s tenure at the academy, we got so many brand-new fools out here that it’s difficult to even count them.

Folk love to tell you all the time not to focus on your teaching because it has nothing to do with tenure.  Folk will tell you that if you want to focus on pedagogy, go to a teaching college.  Folk will tell you that all people do at research universities is research, as if all they do is walk around like movie stars and engrave their names on the sidewalk.  It’s just not this simple.  More importantly, this is a very dangerous discursive arena for faculty who are queer/ women of color.  I see departments that deliberately profit off the backs of queer/women of color faculty whose courses are always full and whose office hours are always busy. Yet you are told teaching doesn’t count when departments only stay afloat because you are attracting students to them.  All of your department’s street cred and relevance in the larger university system come from your full classes and deep mentoring.  Guess who’s doing most of that work? The flipside to this is just as bad.  Queer/ women of color faculty are also targeted most deliberately and aggressively in conservative students’ negative evaluations.  If teaching doesn’t matter, then why do the most petty and racist of negative student evaluations get taken up so seriously in them closed-door tenure meetings (i.e., I know of a Black professor whose students regularly wrote things like she belonged back in the kitchen, not at a college podium, and had a HARD time with tenure)?  All of this can be going on with you and because of the teaching-not-mattering discourse, no one has to really pay attention.

If teaching doesn’t matter, then why are you asked about the courses you will design and how you will help build out a new major/department in your interview?  And why are you then expected to do just that?  You will need to get the details of these kinds of expectations right away.  These colleges know well and good that when they want a new program or a new department, they need to hire a director from outside who is compensated for that work with release time and salary. If they can get a fool to do that work for nuthin more than the standard base already provided, that’s what they will do. Don’t be that fool (yes, you can help with new programs so you can write yourself in but do not carry the full weight without compensation). I have seen these colleges turn around and deny tenure/promotion because you put your priorities on program design (that they asked you to do) rather than on publishing.  YES. I. HAVE. SEEN. THIS. These spaces will also relegate you to the 100-level general education courses, especially new/younger/edgier faculty, because that’s where the retention issues are often most critical. The problem with this is that you are not building up your CV and your teaching profile when you only do these classes (or reading a wide enough range of scholarship that comes from teaching different kinds of class).  On top of that, almost every university interviewer now wants to see sample syllabi and the like.  In an honest space, these possible-future colleagues just want to make sure you can teach because no one has the time to mentor you on pedagogy.  In a foul space, those possible-future colleagues are just tryna jack your stuff, something academics do all too well…. and keep doing for as long as you are around.  Meanwhile, everyone around you is saying that your teaching is irrelevant. You will be teaching your butt off no matter where you go, often needing to protect yourself from vultures who have nothing positive in store for you.  None of this will count in the tenure file but you CAN intervene in the narrative constructed about you in them close-door meetings if you know the game.

Because there is no real structured system that evaluates teaching in a tenure file (and this has been as true for me at research universities as at only teaching colleges), teaching does not count in the official structure.  However, you still have to TIGHTLY control the narrative about your teaching at each step of the way.  The only way to do that is to connect it back to RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP, the only stuff that matters in the academy. This is where the writing of your tenure narrative comes in.  Depending on your college, your tenure narrative will be a singular text or a form with multiple places to insert prose. In a singular text, discussion of your teaching needs to be at a minimum, especially at a research institution.  In a form, you will get a special area to discuss teaching where you can write more.  I have encountered both formats. In both cases, I never talked about teaching or my classrooms unless in relation to my publications.  I have never taught anywhere, not even teaching colleges, that even know how to evaluate teaching so I stick with the research lens, the thing these spaces understand.

There are two scenarios here. The first is when your classes are poppin and you feel like you are doing all the extra work, carrying too much extra weight, holdin down your department… with no recognition whatsoever. Ima call the kind of narrative you have to write here THE COME UP.  The second scenario is when the conservative students are gunning for you and you gotta flex back real good.  Ima call this kind of narrative THE COME BACK.

FOR THE COME UP . . .  You gotta let em know that you KNOW what’s really goin down.  Presidents, provosts, deans and department chairs get all kindsa analytics: they know who has the highest productivity rankings each year; they know how their department’s productivity stands against others; they know who’s classes are filling and who has the lowest and highest evals; they know the departments with the worst retention and the best, and on and on.  They KNOW!  They look at you in the hallways and see your scores in their heads; they just act like they don’t know who is holdin it all down.  Don’t play the fool back with them.  Spell out your teaching value in your tenure narrative. Take your most prestigious or most well-cited publication and explain how that piece takes on a material form in one of your classes. If your classes are popular, discuss their popularity and present this accomplishment as an issue related to one of your publications. Be specific about each class and each research piece that you are choosing to compare.  Do not talk about your teaching in general— that’s a gloss and not rigorous enough to hold attention. Pick specific classes, especially classes that you have designed or that the major, department, or college really needs.  Talk up the public presentations and publications that you have done with students as part of your pedagogy (if you didn’t do that in a research statement already).

The master’s theses and doctoral dissertation committees that you have chaired and led are also part of your teaching file (not for me in my current job but I’m going to talk about that here anyway).  Research universities will take that very seriously.  The most important thing to remember here is to    NEVER    EVER    do someone else’s work for them when it comes to graduate mentoring.  Graduate students who are pressed and/or who do not know the rules of the game (and who have chosen grimy or useless chairs/advisors) will use the hell out of you, but ONLY if you let them.  At a previous university, I was not allowed to teach graduate classes or serve on committees until tenure was in the bag (after 3rd year review in my case).  Everyone knew this but that did not stop the older tenured faculty from sending their graduate students to me all day long (I mean this literally), especially graduate students of color who needed a lot of mentoring. Don’t be a fool!  Every single time you work with a graduate student when you are not on their committee (or some other formal process) is a time you have helped ANOTHER professor beef up their tenure/promotion files.  These forms do not ask HOW you mentored graduate students; they just want to know when they walk across the finish line and who the official advisor was. Some of yall out here so busy tryna be Uncle Ben/Aunt Jemima Helpers that you do more to help other folks’s with their tenure/promotion than you do your own.  If it is not YOUR student/advisee/co-author, then you do not have enough time or energy to read drafts, counsel folk, answer long emails, go out for coffee, etc.  No one is going to protect or save you but yourself so stop all this foolishness of allowing yourself to be exploited.  Take back your teaching time . . . and your teaching narrative!

FOR THE COME BACK . . . If conservative students are going buckwild all over your teaching evaluations, you MUST offset them. If your money is right, you can slide by (I had a colleague who brought in a few million dollars in grant money each year and no one ever discussed her teaching evaluations which were not good).  You can also do some kind of major service project directly with students on campus to offset these evaluations too. No matter what, you need to address teaching but in a way that does not sound defensive.  Just state the facts of your pedagogy in relation to your specific publication(s).

Look, let’s just get real here. You cannot have a subpar or even mediocre publication record if you teaching evals are weak, even if the students are just sayin stupid stuff.  If your scholarship record is too thin or thinner than your colleagues (and by publication, I mean the 15 rules that I laid out in the previous post), negative teaching evaluations will work against you and sustain the bulk of the conversation in them closed-door meetings… whether it is a research university or a teaching college.  If you have hostile students and you are not tenured, I don’t know how to say this other than to just say it: go to a college where students vibe with you, knock the grants and publication out the park to offset the negativity, OR get yo’self a good lawyer.  I have never seen an administration side with a professor who was queer/of color over conservative students so make sure you are clear about this.  No one ever has your back in these spaces so there’s no need to still be believing in fairy tales.

There are some things you can do.  I would advise young/untenured faculty, especially those queer/of color, to avoid teaching that class that everyone is required to take where you have the only section.  If the students in your school are conservative and hostile, they will come for you… HARD… and you will get no support with that.  You don’t need that stress, so let the senior faculty do that work.  Make sure your class is not required and/or has multiple iterations/sections.  You also need to be UPFRONT on the first day, in the syllabus, on your digital course management system, real UPFRONT, about the nature of the conversations about race, class, and gender that you will be forwarding and in the rigor of your assignments (for more about this, click here).  In my case, the most conservative and hostile students have dropped my classes as soon as they see my course materials at every college where I have taught.  Learn how to clear your classroom of symbolic violence and center the spirit of exchange and debate that you are looking for.   That is about HOW to teach and you gon need to learn that art well, despite being in an environment where everyone is telling you that it doesn’t matter but will sabotage you in the moments when teaching does mater.

For myself, I am currently building out an ePortfolio right now with all of my publications and after these publications, I am including my syllabus zines and course websites.  More and more colleges are expecting you to build an online space for tenure rather than a paper file, especially for tenure letter writers. I choose to make my files public rather than password-protected since these grimy academics will pass around your password anyway.  I am choosing to place my teaching in that mix to steer that narrative using digital tools. More on that in my next post… I’m tired again.