• Alyssa McQuaid

CPB Entry #3: Guest Lecture with Rukiya Mohamed

Updated: Feb 9

Wednesday's presentation delivered by Rukiya Mohammed was incredible but it took me some time to recognize its impact. For some reason, I felt more out of place than usual that day. Earlier in the day, I saw a post on Instagram that made me self-conscious about the ways I occupy space in Black affinity groups. The post reminded me that being biracial makes me both an insider and an outsider at the same time. Being this way makes it difficult for me to recognize when I am over stepping and when my voice is helpful. I am aware of my upbringing and my lack of connected and nurturing Black role models growing up impacts my ability to connect with Afrocentric pedagogies; learning about collectivist approaches to teaching, movement-based learning, and intergenerational learning makes sense on paper but I’m not sure I have the life experiences necessary to implement it well. It is because of these lapses in judgement that I felt more like an outsider that day. Rukiya’s talk makes me confront my insecurities head on: I am an outsider, I didn’t grow up with this way of knowing, I am not Black enough to be in this space, my presence inhibits the conversation. I find myself turning my camera on and off a lot during her session because I need to take brain breaks. It’s difficult sitting with the uncomfortable. She asks us questions about stories from our childhoods and all I can think is my story is not the one that needs to be told; my story wouldn’t be “Black enough”. I turned my camera on and off a lot during her session; it’s difficult sitting with the uncomfortable. The class ended and I was glad, I felt like I could breathe again but I still felt heavy. I didn’t share enough of myself that day—I sat back while others underwent emotional labour and bared their vulnerabilities with the class. I am reminded of my intentions for this course: to build community. To me, building community looks like trusting each other to not judge or exclude and that day I sat back and built nothing.

Today, I’m thinking about the question Rukiya asked us about the storybook we wish was written. I think about the feelings of being misplaced that come and go in waves and wonder how things would have been different if I had grown up with a strong sense of community. I think back to my late teens and early adult life when I began actively seeking out Black folks outside of my family to learn from, connect to, and grow with and the beginnings of my journey to healing generational trauma. These memories remind me of the importance of human connection and finding people who love and accept you for who you are not what you look like. These memories make me feel hopeful about being that person who gives love and acceptance to that little (or not so little) Black or biracial girl who was told she wasn’t Black enough or that she didn’t belong. I hope I can be that source of connectedness and healing for someone else the way others were for me.

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