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  • Alyssa McQuaid

CPB Entry #2: Talking with Dr. J

Updated: Feb 9

When I think about myself as an educator, I think about where I am presently; where I've come from; and where I want to go. And oftentimes that involves self-reflection on my identity. I spend a lot of time thinking about my Blackness and where my version of it fits in with the community of Black educators this course creates but also the black community at large. Sometimes I feel misplaced. But also there's times where I find myself saying, “Of course I belong here!” However, in the instances of feeling misplaced, I wonder whether my presence creates or inhibits safe space in communities reserved for Black women and healing themselves from whiteness. I don’t know what the correct answer is in that case but this reflection reminds me to lead with empathy. It reminds me that a lot of people feel like they don't belong in spaces that they want to belong in--and that insight is comforting. It also empowers me to use these insights as avenues for connection with others, and, in future, with my students.


In conversation with Dr. Janelle Joseph, my work-study supervisor, I find connection with her in our understandings of sociopolitical and socioeconomic organizations of sport. I always look forward to our meetings where we brainstorm ideas of tackling lab related tasks but also real life-circumstances. Sitting in counsel with her makes me feel connected to and grounded in my definition of Blackness. In theme moments of Zen, I am reminded that perhaps my disconnect with Blackness hasn't necessarily been a product of other people pushing their worldview or beliefs about Black people onto me. More so, it’s self-inflicted reluctance towards building community based in fear of not being accepted. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Everyone wants to feel loved. Everyone wants to feel safe. Everyone wants to feel that sense of belonging that is so critical for not only Black students, but all students that have ever felt like they didn't belong in an education space. And I think this insight from my lived experience makes me valuable and powerful.


Beyond sport, Dr. Joseph also does a lot of work with racialized women’s experiences with impostor phenomenon. In her talks, she highlights the concept of double consciousness. She notes it’s stifling nature and the importance of recognizing its role in our internal dialogue but also the importance of dissociating from it. That point was particularly impactful for me because I have always connected having a double consciousness with my Blackness and my identity as a biracial Black person. So at first, dissociating from that concept felt like I'd be losing a critical part of myself and connection I have to being Black biracial. However, when I give her suggestions further thought, I realise that the development of the double consciousness is a trauma response and dissociating from that defense mechanism is healing. So while I plan to teach my course content with a critical lens, I want to pair the experience with the skills necessary to acknowledge but also dissociate from the trauma, so that students who experienced racialized harm have the best chance of experiencing Joy and other factors of success despite the injustices they will experience. Having the ability to experience things through a single-consciousness is also essential to navigating society as we know it in North America. Sometimes I grapple with the idea that being Black-White biracial means that I have to be hyper aware and I have to be hypercritical of everything all of the time because if I’m not, I will lose my “Black Card”. Dr. Joseph’s notes on learning to adopt a single consciousness, as I’m coming to understand it now, is not a dissociation from Blackness but it's more so an act of healing, of self-care, and of liberation. and. My blackness can't be taken away because I've chosen to heal from the trauma. Our traumas do not define us; our culture is not our trauma.


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