An Open Letter

Posted: June 23, 2013 in Academy

I love my job and I can’t imagine doing anything else, but doing it here at the University of Chicago has been one of the most emotionally and physically damaging experiences of my life. I return every day to rooms in which I’ve been hurt to learn from people who look nothing like me and to teach people who look nothing like me about whole theoretical worlds in which I do not exist. I sit, shoulders tensed, in classrooms as each racist, sexist, and homophobic word from the mouths of my colleagues hits me like a blow to the chest. Some of them, I imagine, actually leave the classroom feeling full of life and intellectual energy. The structural violence of this institution makes it unlikely I will ever know how that feels. I don’t know how much stronger and braver I might feel if the professor were black, or latino, or gay. I don’t know how much more capable I would feel if I could see a world I recognized in the texts we read. And as I walk home every evening past countless University of Chicago police officers and my shoulders knot even tighter, I wonder if you realize that they don’t make everyone feel more safe.

 

Kaya Williams.

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