In “Black is Over (Or, Special Black),” McMillan Cottom describes her experience as one of the only black students in her graduate program and the limitations of “diversity” initiatives on university campuses. “…The university knows all of the right things to do about ‘diversity,’ a bullshit term invented by bureaucrats who stutter when they say ‘black’” (137). What are some of the limitations she describes? What insights does her experience provide on the types of interventions (institutional, interpersonal) that might be necessary to advance racial equity on university campuses?
In Thick, McMillan Cottom describes how educational settings, from elementary schools to universities, can help to uphold white supremacy and perpetuate the violence of racism. McMillan Cottom describes how white supremacy impacts who gets hired as teachers/professors, which writers/scholars get assigned in the classroom, and which topics are seen as “legitimate” areas of study. Have you seen these dynamics play out in your own academic career? What is our responsibility, if any, to interrupt white supremacy? How?
In “The Price of Fabulousness,” McMillan Cottom discusses how her mother’s “performance” of middle class garnered small but important positive benefits that accumulated over time. She writes, “I do not know how much my mother spent on her camel-colored cape or knee-high boots, but know that whatever she paid was returned in hard-to-measure-dividends” (164). Have you ever felt pressured to “perform” a class identity to be accepted by peers or taken seriously by teachers/professors?
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