“If I Know the Truth, It’s My Duty to Make Revisions:” Academia, Activism, and Personal Expression

I don’t have much of an ~essay~ right now, but I wanted to post something I wrote tonight after learning about A.D. Carson. He is a professor of hip hop at the University of Virginia and he wrote his dissertation as a rap album. I was struck by his unique blend of scholarship, education, and personal expression. I sometimes feel insecure about the activism I do or don’t do, but I think what’s most important is to remember that I can best serve where my skills are best used. And fuck, guys this is important. Understanding that our conversations today exist within a context and then making that context accessible is something I both feel able to do and that actually makes a difference.

Not that academia is meaningless without accessibility but… in a way-particularly in the cultural studies/humanites fields-it kind of is. Beyond academia, I guess my point is that rallying and lobbying are only one type of way to fight oppression. Find yours and do it with excitement. (Illustrated above by a photo of me at the feminist bookstore, A Room of One’s Own in Madison, Wisconsin. I was literally rolling on the floor with joy. You don’t have to be that weird and extra, but it was quite fun, honestly). You can find out more about A Room of One’s Own here: http://www.roomofonesown.com/ and about Carson (whose lyrics are the title of this piece) here: http://aydeethegreat.com/


People tell me they don’t

know what they want to do

with their lives

and that’s ok


But it baffles me

when the pains of the world

seem so clear to see


I may not attend rallies

or write many letters

but the pain is a bird

and she has many feathers


You cannot pluck them all

with one hand

but find one and pull

as she squawks and she squeals


Because eventually you

get used to the way that it


to unlearn, to undo, to unsay


plucking away

and still

plucking away


I have already struggled

and chosen to stay

so I pluck at stray



Wondering about you when you


nothing moves you or grabs


or shocks you to tears

nothing confuses and bemuses


curiosity cracking your fears


You do not need to know

what you want to be

to make goodness a

priority but


I am a teacher not because

I know better

better yet I know nothing

and you can too


Humility, empathy, empowerment

are infectious

and we have been inoculated


into quarantines

from the sick and the dreaming


We wonder what all the flapping is


but we do not look to

the thing that has






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