I feel as though I have been navigating the world my entire life without a true or real lens. When I was thinking about my topic for my annotated bibliography I was thinking of leadership in the general sense, but one thing I have learned in this EDLD program is to use the courses for self-reflection and growth. Due to my current leadership experience and what I have witnessed about black women in higher education, I chose to select the strong black women schema in relation to higher education leadership. I work for the first black and first black woman Provost and I have colleagues who are black women who share similar experiences in higher education so I felt a personal connection to this topic – I guess I did not realize how personal it would get.
The textbook for our class is Leadership: A Communication Perspective and reading the articles about black women in higher education brought me to tears as black women communicated their journey and experience in higher education leadership. I was not prepared for the stories of black women in leadership positions. The articles used words I had never heard or expected to hear communicated about leadership experiences and caused me to read as an inquirer of my own journey rather than reading for the purpose of an assignment. Words like a crucible, monolith, white gaze, post-traumatic slave syndrome, hegemonic, ivory tower. I was raised by a white mom with color blindness and have navigated the world thinking my good deeds and a degree would present me with respect and opportunities only to read that is not true. My identity continues to be under a microscope as I read the stories and identifies with so many experiences never having someone to say, “hey, this is what we [black women] experience” but thinking if I did more I would not feel that way. I have made myself sick chasing this path for leadership.
Understanding the relationship between identity and leadership can help build the knowledge on individuals’ development and future behaviors as leaders.(Murphy, 1999)
According to Johnson and Hackman (2018), “cultural teachings result in very different assumptions, expectations, and rules for interaction. If we are not aware of these cultural differences, we can ascribe meaning to behaviors that are inaccurate and divisive” (Johnson & Hackman, 2018, p. 324). I feel as though I have navigated my journey toward leadership with an inaccurate understanding because of my lack of understanding of my own identity and how I am viewed as a black woman, even though my mother and family never treated me any different than them. Looking back, I recognize the microaggressions, the nonverbals communicated, and the passive-aggressive comments. I feel angry with my mom because she never prepared me, but honestly, she couldn’t have because she doesn’t know what it is like to navigate the world as a black woman. I am upset and feel embarrassed and hurt and unprotected. In my mind, I see people laughing at me behind my back at the thought that I am even on the same level and not realizing I would never be part of their world.
I had to take a break from reading the articles because I felt myself crying and processing and I was preparing for the upcoming Leadership and Diversity presentation. In my meetings with Ashleah I felt bolder in expressing my black voice and my perspective on diversity in leadership. I tried not to make it a black thing but after reading those articles I felt nothing but a focus on the black woman’s journey for leadership and the impact that has on representation for students in P-16. All I feel is fear about having to present this to my classmates: 1) I don’t want to fall apart and cry and 2) I don’t want to be seen as the angry black woman
Johnson, C. E., & Hackman, M. Z. (2018). Leadership: A communication perspective. Waveland
Press. (7th Edition).
Murphy J (1999) The quest for a center: Notes on the state of the profession of educational leadership, pp. 1–104. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED433620.pdf.