As Fellows, we are afforded one week in which we individually present our writing to the group to be workshopped. This may look like sharing a written document or draft for the group to read in the week prior, and open the meeting floor for feedback, comments, and suggestions.
During my workshopping experience, I gained some valuable insights while sharing my work with the group. The most valuable question I ask myself is who am I in the work? Who will I remain to be? It has taken me some time to figure out how to articulate or best represent myself and my scholarly pursuits. Often, the demands of grad school force one to choose between the path of least resistance and a more difficult one. One that could be fraught with emotional and mental turmoil.
Instead of committing to a watered-down version of my dissertation project, I want to stay true to my research commitments. I understand how my positionality influences the study and is directly tied to my research commitments. Firstly, as a daughter of Staten Island with African heritage rooted in the Caribbean, I am in a unique position to gain entrée to a community that is still my home, despite the geographical constraint of currently living in Boston, and to expand scholarly understanding of Black place. I am privy to the places and spaces Black people occupy, to the nuances we contain, the joy we carry and the restrictions we shoulder. With this positionality, I recognize it may be challenging to research “home”. However, I will have a unique commitment to the participants and communities at large. Scholarship should not end in academia. It should be conducted in partnership with the community and returned to the very communities from which it came (Gumbs nd). It must lead to change in policies, laws, and lives. Community-accountable scholarship will be essential in this project.
Secondly, I am motivated to document the experiences of people within the African Diaspora that go unseen and unexplored. My professional commitments are tied to critical self-reflextivity, radical scholarship, acting as an agent of change and working with contingent collaborators (Tuck & Yang 2012; Tuck et al. 2014; Anzaldua 1987; 2002; Nagar 2014; Nagar & Ali 2003). The work presented is deeply intertwined with this belief and my own personal experience.
Now is the time to put it into action and go down unknown paths.