This week’s episode of Black Enough, like the other two episodes, begins with a quotation from Ta-Nehisi that comes across like a prayer. One of the words that my mind clung to in the opening was responsibility. The words implore the viewer to think about the responsibility that Black boys (and Black girls) carry despite the impulse to be carefree. However, I was still mulling over responsibility when we cut to a classroom, where Professor Rekia is giving a rather compelling introductory lecture to a group of moderately engaged students, including Amaya. Jaheem’s late entrance only briefly interrupts the flow Rekia has going.
“We breathe in struggle, and exhale innovation.”
When Rekia has dismissed the class for the day, Amaya and Jaheem strike up casual conversation, that leads to them going on an adventure to find the bookstore together. They chat about the reading, the white girls from Amaya’s dance class, Chicago and the remnants of suburbia in Amaya’s hair. At the bookstore, both Amaya and Jaheem pick up copies of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, which Rekia quoted from in class.
“For the first time my eyes swayed across the page as the same pace as my hips…”
It feels only right that this episode ends with words from Dr. Stephanie Crumpton on her discussion of community based Black Girl Magic. The innovation of the professor, the teacher, reminds viewers how formative these figures are in our lives. Crumpton is spot on when she says that we do not make magic on our own; in my opinion, teachers have a very integral part in helping foster (or sometimes destroy) our magic.
Black women scholars are an integral part of this episode, and it had me wondering what it means to be a Black Professor. I often think about the legacies I am a part of, those which I uphold and those I work to change.
So from one (future) Black Professor to her someday students, here is my prayer:
I pray that I am able to care for myself. I will never be able to give you, my student, the breath out of my body. My breath is for me and God, so I pray I will be able to keep myself healthy and holy, so that I can share all that I can with you.
Know that I do this for you. I’m riding for you. I’m rooting for you. All of my struggle is for nothing if I can’t pass it on, if I can’t help to lift you up and encourage you to fly.
Which means that I jump through the hoops to put myself in the best possible position to help you.
And I write. Don’t forget that I write, but that’s for you, too. For my little sister with her nose in a book and dreams bigger than her Afro. For my brother searching for a way to make sense of the world. For my homie that needs to be heard.
I see you.
It is my dream to write about all the ways you will design to teach yourself to fly. I’m here to cultivate innovation, nourish creativity and to push you to think critically, carefully and closely.
But to be the best version of myself to carry out this purpose I read widely, reflect constantly and write fiercely because someone has to imagine a future for us, so why not me?
And everyday that you come to class, I hope you’ll realize why I have you learn the past. There is no future without looking back. We call it Sankofa, we call it Building on the Legacy.
This is the way God works through me.
And it’s worth it when I am able to open up my office door to the Black girl in my 11 AM lecture and assure her that her Black Girl Magic will level up to Black Woman Sorcery, knowing all the while God was preparing me to be a testimony.
This is the way God works through me.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Ntozake Shange
“Becoming Full Professor While Black,” Marlene L. Daut