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

By Darrell Cleveland | Go to book overview

18

GRIOTS AND RITES OF PASSAGE:
FROM GRADUATE SCHOOL TO
PROFESSOR WITH TENURE

Amiri Yasin Al-Hadid

Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors, for the mind is trained through knowledge.
Behold, their words endure in books. Open and read them and follow their wise
counsel. For one who is taught becomes skilled.

THE BOOK OF KHETI, Karenga, 1984, p. 50


Prologue

The journey from graduate school, doctorate degree, tenure track faculty, tenure, and professor is a long and arduous endeavor. It involves a great deal of discipline, personal sacrifice, patience, and a relentless commitment to a long-range goal. On the journey, an internal dialogue with the self might sometimes come to threshold. The impulses for this internal dialogue often originate from anxiety, doubts, stress, and declining confidence and courage. Consequently, perceptions of professors and colleagues constantly change and evolve. The dialectics of friend and foe come onto the stage of reality with dramatic intensity. Each episodic situation demands definition, clarity, and continuity. Indeed, the reality and world of academia has its own culture. It has institutional norms, conflicts, politics, and instrumental rewards. The socialization and assimilation of African American graduate students and faculty into this alien western culture are encumbered with alienation, cognitive dissonance, isolation, and loneliness. Navigating this illusory and treacherous

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