December 5th, 2014
In my early years of teaching, I considered myself fortunate that I escaped any negative assessment from my peers of how I looked or what I wore. As an adjunct professor teaching a class here and there in addition to my off-campus work, I flew under the radar. I was 20-something and had yet to really define my personal style. And I either didn't pay much attention to what my colleagues were saying, doing, or perceiving, or I simply hadn't made myself a target yet.
But a few years ago, six words changed that. Six words would quickly catapult me from unknown and unseen to the ranks of those professors of color who find themselves defending their physical appearance.
"Your look is a bit wild."
Those six words were spoken by a well-intentioned colleague who sat in on a workshop I was teaching for the college's professional development series—a workshop, ironically titled, “Cultural Competency in the Workplace and Classroom.” I suppose she didn't have any idea who I was or where I'd come from. Remember, I’d been in and out of academe up until that point. The workshop was a way for me to intentionally be noticed, should I ever desire to apply for a full-time position.