I have spent six days away at two different events. The first was a three-day yoga workshop taught by my teacher, Richard Freeman, and the second was a seminar on inclusive pedagogical practices for college courses. Both required a certain courage to attend, more required stamina, and attentiveness. Both were exhausting and marvelous and revealing. To go straight from three days of thoughtful spiritually guided yoga to three days of intellectual rigor is a cultural shock. One was integration of body and heart and mind, while the other is mind and heart alone, with rigorous conversation.
If I could, I would attend yoga four days a week with my teacher, if not six. A course on inclusivity is a different animal, but if a rest were built-in to the offering, it too would be a welcome practice. In reality, yoga and inclusivity are both life-long, daily practices.
Still, at one point in the seminar, when we were asked to write some of our reflections down, I wanted the presenters to hand out color markers and blank pieces of paper so we could visually illustrate our thoughts. As I continued with the exercise, I wondered what that meant, and doodled a little surreptitiously, but the answer is clear: one aches for creative intervention in multi-disciplines. One wants crayons and charcoals.
To work with themes diversity is hard work; acknowledging the biases, the small internalizations of privilege and lack, and work towards change requires time. How would Ntozake Shange put it? Being a woman of color IS NEVER redundant in a world of academia. There are simply not enough of us, yet. The problem is often the teachers of color are asked to teach color, a situation that can cause weariness. [This is a rewrite of my original post because I did not make sense on the page of what I wanted to say. Thank you, Sandra, for pointing me in the right direction. ] What Shange had her character in her play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf really said was “I cldn’t stand being colored and sorry at the same time–it seems so redundant in the modern world.”One wants at some point to stretch the mind [out from under the norm] with finger paint, activate the imagination, and let out a large, loud sigh.
I find I am as always when I involve myself in discussions of diversity in academics to be interested, alert, and far too revealing. A professor by natures protects herself so she can be who she also is outside the class. I tend to cultivate a reserve that can lead if I am not careful to sadness. What one wants to do is integrate oneself, and also get the work of inclusion and, say, creative writing in class, done.
On the way back to the Cape, I braked hard for a fox running across the highway, and watched it run to safety in the woods. Spring colors at twilight were on full misty display, the dunes, flowers and water saturated and rich. Imagine peach, yellow-gold, greens and blues in a hundred hues placed next to one another, forming something ethereal and real. Inclusive. Yogic. More, always.
- Teacher Series: Richard Freeman (theweeklyjo.wordpress.com)