Disrupter not Imposter

Academics have a term “imposter syndrome”

…a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1}  wikipedia 

or more simply from Merriam Webster

Imposter one that assumes false identity or title for the purpose of deception

I don’t believe in imposter syndrome, for people of color.
Am I, are you, are we, imagining that we don’t fit-in and to boot overcame all the obstacles that were created to keep people like you, like me, out?  If we wonder how we despite it all, still were able to  “make it”, I am not sure this is part of an imagined idea that we weren’t made for this space—let me be clear, we were not made for this space. This space was not designed for us, much less for us to succeed.

We are in a system that was created to exclude us and yet we made it in?  Were we allowed in not necessarily via a false identity but an “acceptable identity” to academia? I play a role in academics, where I cannot be too angry, not articulate enough, not too articulate, not a lot of things. I cannot be me without consequence.  A consequence white people don’t face in the same way, and never have.

I dislike the idea of imposter syndrome because it is the idea that I’ve imagined I don’t belong, it is gas-lighting my experience.

Why would I belong to an institution that is built on both the exclusion and exploitation of my people?  Why do I belong in a place where I have to ask if we can learn any theory at all not from a white person, especially when I am in a field that studies Black and Brown bodies?

How can I acknowledge white supremacy and at the same time be told that I do belong to this institution, that any feelings I have of not belonging are fraudulent? I don’t belong in academia as it was and is. It wasn’t made for me, and it wasn’t designed for me to achieve greatness.

And yet I do succeed, we do succeed!  That is the amazing part! We exist in a space that attempts to strip us of our humanity. We aren’t suffering in delusion that maybe we don’t belong or this place isn’t’ for us.  It wasn’t made for us–we exist in the margins.  I can go weeks on my campus never seeing a Latinx man, or a Black woman, why is that? Why has it been like that?

Instead of imposters, I’d like to think of us as disrupters. We don’t suffer from imposter syndrome. We triumph while swimming in their white supremacy. We succeed and create paths via our disruption.  We didn’t come here to repeat their roles, to belong to their colonized theories, we came to agitate, and take up space; we are disruptors. I am a disruptor.

Fear

The biggest thing that has kept me from blogging is fear.

What if I write something and later I disagree with it.  What if I write something controversial and it keeps me from getting hired, or furthering my academic career.

Then I think what are my controversial ideas? That education should be accessible, that women should control their own bodies, that Black Lives Matter, that the Ivory Tower was made to keep education in the hands of elites and to empower white supremacy.  But are those really that controversial?

If I am to go into academia, shouldn’t I be the person loudly starting those conversations?
I think about people like Jonathan Rosa and Nelson Flores both of whom have a strong online presence. They call out white supremacy ALL THE TIME. And if it weren’t for their online presence, I am not sure I would know about them, which means they wouldn’t have been as fundamental in my dissertation work as they are.
They give me hope, I can win at academia and crush white supremacy without having to water myself down.

So yeah, almost all my classes, classmates and professors have perpetuated white supremacy. My elevator introduction, is “I study the languages and cultures of mi gente, as taught by white people in the midwest”.   And that’s why I have to speak up I guess, because I am the only US Latina in my cohort. Of those with PhDs in the US less than 2% are Chicanas.  I need to be less fearful so that I can make room for voices like mine, just as Dr. Rosa and Dr. Nelson have made a path for people like me.