Don’t Tempt Me…

This class has been a great help to me. Perhaps too helpful…

 I guess you could say that there are benefits to the silo mentality that pervades academia. Maybe the last thing that departments want is for people like me to realize, “hey there is a huge (job) world out there and I am qualified for plenty, RIGHT NOW! So, what do I need your stupid degree for?” I must admit that I have been thinking this on and off for the last two weeks. It started when we looked at idealist, LinkedIn, and others. But then I looked at the HBCUs, too to see if their job market has the same poor prospects. Lo and behold, I found a full-time lecturer position for African-American lit at a small college in Mississippi that I am qualified for now.   With that hopeful prospect and so many others, (both at HBCUs, in non-profits, and in education support organizations) I ask, why should I finish a PhD, when I could make some money and be happy in a non-tenure position or supporting field? So, do I stay or do I go? Since, I am fairly far along in my program, I guess I will stay. I do have an important story that I want to tell regarding African-American identity and class, a story that I still believe needs telling.  (I needed to write it out here, in a public manner, so I can return to it often and reread it when the road gets rough.) But maybe after I tell that story, my next step looks different than what I originally thought. Maybe I work in community outreach to tell that story to actual people through my involvement. Maybe that story gets told through work in university diversity inclusion work. Or maybe…

That’s the point. This class has opened up my definitely this to a maybe that. The wandering map has been so helpful in identifying my interests and then being able to use language that articulates those interests outside academia. I had never been able to do that before. Many graduate students that I have spoken to either have no concept of what happens if academia does not happen or they have some amorphous plan that vaguely includes the corporate sector or publishing. Now I feel that I have a concrete Plan B that does not include teaching at all. And the scary part is that I am considering the possibility that maybe the best way to be of service to the Black community and helping to reshape the way we think about African-American identity and class issues might not be in the classroom at all (What? Plan A watch out!).  I feel really upended, but I feel good about it.

I have family concerns, a spouse who’s just as passionate about business as I am about the humanities. So what if, he gets an executive job one place and I get a teaching job somewhere else. Since I pretty sure there aren’t any executive posts in in Holly Spring, MS, now what? This has been a great concern to me since I re-entered grad school…Which one of us will quit? Well as I said in class, I definitely want to rethink how we discuss quitting. If he got a top position at Coca-Cola and I had to go and help black people at an underserved school or community program in Atlanta, did I quit? Or did I maybe apply my degree to humanity, what I actually learned to do. Do I want a teaching gig at an HBCU? Absolutely. But can I do other things and be a happy success? Absolutely. This class has definitely helped me to consider “quitting” as a good path.

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One thought on “Don’t Tempt Me…

  1. It makes me happy to see how clearly multiple paths have crystallized for you. Ultimately, this was the #1 goal of this course. As far as finishing goes, it makes sense to finish big projects/goals that you have set for yourself. I would never advise anyone who is far along into a program to not see it through unless there are extreme circumstances preventing completion. That said, I think it’s key that everyone build dynamic professional profiles that demonstrate your range of interests and strengths. You’ve done a great job of this, and I look forward to seeing how you negotiate these different paths/possibilities.

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