Date of this Version
Paper presented at the People of Color Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, October 31, 2001.
Grounding the discussion in Check Anta Diop’s Cradle theory, this paper invites us for a critical thinking and questioning of the very existence, the relevance of the color concept itself alongside the negative and detrimental impacts color has on, especially, Black women in academia. Historical, anthropological, scientific findings and theorists of the “Monogenesis” like, Asa G. Hilliard III (Free Your Mind: Return to the Source) traced the human origin back to a single human being, a woman, more than 10.000 years ago. In reference to the current trend, skin color could be defined as nothing, but the result of an evolutionary phenomenon, and a normal biological transformation within space and time including the ice age. Despite the polemics and contradictory revelations that are raised in mainstream society, there are solid grounds for arguing in favor of the monogenesis theorists findings, which theoretically maintain that all human beings came from the same woman. In light of this, one could understand the differences of our skin color, and what it means to be human instead of using color as a yardstick of measurement for validating or devaluing our intellectual achievement, including privileging some at the detriment of others. This paper seeks to engage in the controversial dialogue with all women of color including white women. As white does not necessary mean, neutral, it should be also viewed as a color. Using examples from student/faculty interactions, the paper will attempt to provide insight into understanding how male and female appearance shape the respectability we receive both from the students, and peers. While trying to raise our consciousness of the multiple challenges underrepresented people are facing in Academia, the focus of my discussion is on the experience Black women’s faculty members and Black women students in the educational arena. Based on the crucial question on how the faculty members can be protected against dangerous students in class, some tentative answers and recommendations for an integral and inclusive educational environment the goal set in the following paragraphs.