I am in my fourth week of my second semester since returning to college to finish the undergraduate degree I began over twenty years ago. I am taking two courses in this six week block. One is a multi-genre writing course with a professor whose feedback last semester helped me imagine and name myself as a writer again. It’s funny the way external feedback works. Once upon a time it was through blogging, reading/performing in public spaces, drunk and sober whispers with friends, lovers, fellow creatives that helped prop up my self created identity but here in Los Angeles, with my Executive Director title, I felt so far from that until school gave me discipline and feedback loops from people I wasn’t fucking or fangirling with. External validation is one hell of a drug.
My second course is a Literature class looking at Black mixed race women’s narratives. I instantly like my professor when I read her syllabus and see we are going to discuss not just race, gender and narrative but also critical race theory and I”m asked to write about myself and my light/bright almost white NYRican-ness.
While writing and researching my first paper, I first list all of the brilliant scholars I know. Jessica, Moya, Lex, Bi. I look up their names in the journals and for the first time read them as scholars, not just conspirators and I wept when I read them citing other beloved ones in my life: Sydette, Lisa, Brown Femi Power. I sobbed when I saw my own name. Not out of sadness but deep joy and gratitude.
In all the years since I dropped out of college I have struggled with the fact that I don’t have a degree and yet have enough deep experience and knowledge that I have spoken at colleges, in the media, etc. I have a bad case of impostor syndrome but in that moment, the moment of researching and writing and feeling like I was among friends and like I could be and maybe am a little bit of a scholar.