Comps Results: 2/3; Why I Won’t Be The Angry Black Woman That White Supremacy Disrupts
Posted on June 29, 2018
I got my comps results on Tuesday! I passed my major and minor comps, but failed my core comps. This came as a shock to me, because whereas I anticipated failing 1 question on the core comps, I did not anticipate failing all 3 questions. I was passed by one core professor on 2/3 questions. But failed by the other professor on all 3.
I posted the above status and then waited one day before I sent out emails thanking my committee’s readers. On the day that I found out, I also went to the gym to blow off some steam (and mostly lose some weight since the gym was planned before I got my results back).
Most felt that there is no need to withdraw from the program– but if I’m being honest, the program is too expensive and the stipend rarely pays rents. Failing one section of comps– with only 1 year of funding left– decreases time dedicated to dissertation proposal and dissertation writing. People aren’t lying when they say that grad school is for the already wealthy.
Nonetheless, the professor that failed me, over the span of one day— and in the most passive aggressive way ever…bordering on (stupid and uniformed) smugness—tried to paint me as an “angry black woman.” And not just any angry black woman, but one who would— if I decided to continue on with my PhD— still be subject to his version of academic “rigor” on any possibility that I would decide to retake the exam. I put his version of rigor since his comments seemed to be upset with how I was taught theory, versus actual theory itself.
Of corse the latter clause (about me having to retake it with him) wouldn’t be true, as I found out the day before. But to him, the assertion meant that he had power– which he obviously does have, seeing as his singular assertion made me fail comps, in spite of passing the two questions to the askers standards.
As proof of his smugness, he decided to add in a director (of which, in the initial email I sent, I stated that I had already met the director) and I responded back to them both, saying that it would not be true. That is when the assertion was made. As a pro tip, I should note that if you intend to be smug against someone, and they pull your smug (the email version of this is that they keep the person CC’d) you should know: maybe they know something that you don’t 🤫.
But I won’t digress. As I thought about this assertion—and the one other time in the span of eight years in which a white male professor essentially made similar claims that:
(1) you are angry black woman
(2) whose future I could interrupt
I’ve realized that what they’re really addressing is the fact that I have the gall to voice my thoughts, emotions, and understandings of a specific situation and be confident and eloquent when I do (my transition from email petty to social media petty is unmatched, quite literally).
The first time this happened, I was an undergraduate and dared to correct the professor before our Habitat for Humanity volunteer break in one of the poorest reservations in South Dakota that: Native American people are not white and it’s incorrect for him to pretend that we’ll be meeting blonde hair and blue eyed Natives… unless the implication is that Natives have been completely genocided.
Unfortunately for him, upon arrival, it was clear that the Native peoples were not white or blue eyed and blonde haired. For some reason, he was mad that people saw what I said was right. On the reservation, he further became enraged after I stood up for a Native woman, over a fellow undergraduate student also on the trip, that was being offensive to someone Native. Apparently, Natives dislike claims from white people that their “4 generations back grandma was Native and “danced with wolves in the cemetery.” Because I called the white girl out on why it was offending the native people, since for some reason she appeared to be fine deaf, this to him warranted giving me an ‘F’ on his alternative break course. He was brought in to take the white girl away, by someone Native, but I’m black— so naturally he came in blazing at me and my intellect. (Everyone was like 😳 TF, wrong person)
Be it God or some other force, I wasn’t actually enrolled in the course, so he couldn’t give me a grade. Unfortunately in this case, no matter how many students came forward to back what happened, he was tenured and the University could do nothing. Unsurprisingly, multiple students— past and present had warranted claims against this professor, but tenure-ship was something too slippery for the university to deal with.
Fast forward to now— it’s always the white male professors with no real prodigies who tend to be doing the most when it comes to students and students of color. In grad school, this continues to be the case. Maybe it’s their personalities or maybe it’s because they’re wishy-washy and vindictive since they view their own intelligence as astronomical. And thus, if you’ve ever corrected them before, you must be perfect in everything that you do– they end up disenchanting others, I don’t really know.
But I’ve learned to stay away from these types a long awhile ago. Funnily enough, he was the last person I actually wanted on a committee since I peepped him to be one of these types after taking a course with him. But sometimes, life works out funny to reaffirm lessons that you’ve long learned in the past.
You don’t get away from white male professors, or authority figures, in grad school. You also don’t get rid of racism and sexism in grad school.
I think that what this has taught me, is that it’s okay to be an angry black woman. Prior to starting grad school, I intentionally— and even on this blog— have talked about how I’ve tried to avoid that label. But maybe it’s not that I’ve had or even needed to avoid it. But rather, I should embrace it.
I am an angry black woman, with every right to be.
I’m also #HereToStay. Nothing motivates me more than knowing I have haters that want to see me fail. Unknowingly, the angry black woman assertion COUPLED with the “your future is in my hands” bullshit, makes me want to go all the way awf!