My name is
Aja Clark Queen Bravo, I am a Junior studying at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Currently I am enrolled in a sociology course called Our Urban World which is supposed to teach about cities and the theories involved with them. The class is taught by a white woman who appears to be what is considered well versed in the study of cities and people that live within them. Our case study is Washington, D.C. which historically has been influenced by the politics of or about Black people. We have been tasked with reading Black Power: The Politics of Liberation by Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael. Prior to the start of the class, I was excited to learn about gentrification, the movement of people, urban renewal, etc. in an educational setting. Unfortunately, throughout the duration of the class I have been thoroughly disappointed and offended by the handling of this course.
Today in class, the lack of cultural competency of the professor and my fellow Mason students was clear. The professor lacked the appropriate facilitation skills and also the cultural competency required to facilitate a healthy and meaningful discussion of this book that is stated explicitly to be about the “business by and of Black people.” I certainly felt that the reading of this book was more intrusive into Black culture than beneficial to the learning that is supposedly to happen within this course.
George Mason is not diverse in thought. It is an institution with an old rhetoric that I am tired of hearing. President Cabrera, Rose Pascarell, Julian Williams, etc. are all paid to maintain their obligations to the student body. I am Aja Clark and I am not on payroll. It is not my job to educate the educator nor is it my job to do the jobs of upper level administration by ensuring not only the cultural competency but also the basic competency of the professors employed by George Mason University. Being as though we are the “most diverse university” it would only make sense that all of our professors are required on a mandatory basis to attend workshops that move them closer to cultural competency.
As a Black woman, a Black President, a Black student, it is not my job to educate nor correct people with degrees about the importance of making students feel safe…unless someone would like to take care of my tuition.
Through the mentions of “colored people”, the dissection of Black culture, and the actions and opinions of Black people, it was more than apparent that the choice of this book was a poor judgement call made by the professor. It is tiring to have to constantly be put in the position to educate an institution that benefits off of my diversity. George Mason has built its legacy on the backs of Black and Brown people and it is time that we all acknowledge it. It is time that Mason quit the PR stunts of “working on it” and actually worked on it. It is time that Mason stopped pretending to appreciate student activism. We know that you don’t and you make it clear through your actions. Break the smoking mirrors and do some real work. & you can start by reinstating Dr. Yu, a man that you should be completely ashamed to have separated from service. For more, put me on the payroll.