Its like this diary is catharsis while I’m in school. This blog is the outlet of heavy thoughts pouring out from the acceptable behaviours of academia. Consider yourself privy to the real deal.

So today. I’m in this class and I realize that I’m being totally disruptive. I get into class late. Someone was talking but I still felt like I should ask the teacher if I could get a course outline. This was the second class and I didn’t attend last week. Usually I’d be embarrased by this type of thing but I wasn’t this time. I shuffled getting to my seat. I sat down smugly. The professor asked me to introduce myself and I said my name more proudly than the circumstance called for. About 20 minutes into the discussion I had to go to the washroom. But I waited until the prof told us to go into our discussion groups. Then I went to the washroom…

When we got back into general discussion I asked the professor a pretty detailed question concerning the parameters of the debate. It was one of those questions intended to turn the whole conversation upside down. I think she knew that and said “It’s a good question…” then proceeded to explain something that had nothing to do with my question.

My phone, which I had put on silent, began to beep every 1 minute or so…

“beep”
“beep”
“beep”

The girl sitting beside me desperately searched through her purse to check if it was her phone beeping. We both knew it wasn’t her phone. It was mine. She was performing for me what it is that I should be doing. I should go into my purse and turn off the beeping noise that signalled I had a message. But, I knew that it was only her and I that could hear it. The professor was still talking. So I decided to enjoy the tune:

“beep”
“beep”
“beep”

And then, I had a moment. It hit me. I smelled the funk that invaded my close-to-three-hours in that classroom. These were the sounds, smells and acts of resistance. Resistance to normalized behaviour in the academy: no hats, no lateness, no cell phones. No hats, no lateness, no cell phones. No hats, no lateness, no cell phones.

Okay, so I am intellectualizing the whole experience now. But the fact that my actions were acts of resistance is undisputable. I felt uninspired by the rows of students asking questions about what they don’t know as though they already know the answer. Just say: “What do you mean by that?” What is the purpose of all this pretence? I am an afflicted victim of the academic pretence syndrome (APS).

And then I wondered about a pressing debate – about why black youth are, as research has it, not as university-bound as the rest. I believe it is because many racialized youth, as smart as we are, are unwilling to “play the game” of the academic world. We want to say it like it is, hear it like it is and do it like we want to. Academia accepts none of these things and in fact the whole institution of learning is designed for us to un-learn what comes naturally so that we exist in an environment that denaturalizes our impulse. There are no impulses: just controlled reactions.

but pretention is necessary because in this world the focus is on seeming. We must seem democratic not devious. Kind and not cunning. maybe in heaven we can just be.

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