Grad School: A Manifesto


A few days ago, my Intro to Graduate Studies professor asked us to write a manifesto, a degree of our intentions as readers and writers in graduate school. My manifesto was tame, lame, beautifully written but missing so many elements of what I truly wanted to get off my chest. This is a re-write of my manifesto, a piece that I could submit in a perfect world where academic egos aren’t fragile and I have to walk on eggshells until I find my place within a system that doesn’t want me there.

  1. PhD programs are so unnecessarily bougie. Pressed button-down shirts, blazers, and muted colors. I reject the notion that I am my best academic self in beige cardigans. I reject the academic fear of a Black girl in a fly golden windbreaker or Nike Roshes.
  2. My presence in this program is inherently political. I refuse to succumb to imposter syndrome. I refuse to value academia in a way that makes me feel less than, because academia is not a greater than space.
  3. I will not lose myself in externalities, nuances, and sympathetic raptures, words and phrases meant to exclude. My work must always be accessible because my work is for the people.
  4. I do not have to sacrifice my comfort and self-survival to fit in.
  5. My Black woman labor will not be a source of profit for the sake of “community.”
  6. My words and writing have immense value with or without a doctorate.
  7. I will always question and de-center whiteness, even when my department insists that learning about white writers and thinkers strengthens my background as a scholar.
  8. I must remember that for all my faves with a doctorate (Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara), I can name three more without them (Assata Shakur, Trudy, my students).
  9. My writing must always disrupt and redistribute power.

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