For many college professors, Covid-19 prompted an abrupt shift to online learning. Colleagues scrambled to plan the rest of the spring semester as the transition’s ambiguity led to anxiousness and frustration. I, on the other hand, breathed a sigh of relief. A few days before the stay-at-home order went into place, I was the victim of a hate crime on campus. Although I am well aware of racial challenges and tensions that consistently exist on my and other college campuses, I escaped direct target until this point. After nearly a decade of employment with the same university, I have grown comfortable in my surroundings, perhaps too comfortable. One of the few Black faculty members on campus, I rarely blend in. People tend to know of or recognize me well before the same level of recognition is returned. I love my job and feel respected by my colleagues and the students. Nevertheless, in just a few short seconds, one distressing critical incident severely damaged my feeling of safety and connectivity to my professional home. In this essay, I use reflexivity to make explicit personal-cultural connections between the hate crime, intergenerational trauma, and the Covid-19 stay at home order. Moving exclusively to a virtual learning environment allowed me to unpack the incident and its link to my family histories based in the Jim Crow South absent of the respectable Black woman role that typically shields my intersecting identities. Through these experiences, I connected with a level of vulnerability, patience, and self-awareness in personal and professional spaces that I would not have displayed before Covid-19.
Morant Williams, Kesha
"I Can Breathe,"
Survive & Thrive: A Journal for Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine: Vol. 6
, Article 17.
Available at: https://repository.stcloudstate.edu/survive_thrive/vol6/iss1/17