A Long Way to Go: Conversations about Race by African American Faculty and Graduate Students

By Darrell Cleveland | Go to book overview

12

FROM DISBELIEF, PRESUMPTION,
AND DISRESPECT TO MEMBERSHIP
IN THE LEGACY OF COMPETENCE:
TEACHING EXPERIENCES AT THE
HBCU AND THE PWI

Dia Sekayi

A student stops by the main office of the College of Education and asks if Dr. Sekayi is
around. The response is “yes” and the student is given directions to my office. The
student arrives at room 1434. My nameplate is directly under the office number. I
am sitting at my desk, alone in my office, working on a paper. The student looks at
my nameplate, looks at me, looks back at my nameplate, and then asks, “Will Dr.
Sekayi be back soon?”

When I first began my tenure-track appointment at age 28, I believed that the combination of race/culture, age, and gender would impact this professional experience just as it had impacted others. Now at age 35, I've discovered two things: (a) that this combination of personal characteristics does in fact impact my professional experiences; however (b) what matters far more than the response I get from students and some colleagues is my response to their response. This is where the issue of personal transformation comes into play. In the first portion of this chapter, I will address my experiences with students which I will categorize as disbelief, presumption, and disrespect at predominantly White institutions (PWI) and membership in the legacy of competence at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU).

In the second portion of this paper, I will make five acknowledgments that have been a central part of my personal transformation and have facilitated my professional growth, specifically in my role as a teacher.

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