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Rachel Kamradt
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Rachel Kamradt Beautiful, introspective work. We desperately need more PoC in higher ed, and need faculty and peers to learn how to support and hold space. I grew up as a biracial person in largely white institutions, and it's hard to know where to begin with how much is lost when this remains the status quo. Thank you for writing this.
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Towers by Shelley Washington examines the persistent challenges faced by people of color in the realm of higher academia.

"I was asked to write a piece inspired by a particular social justice issue that is close to my heart, and I chose to highlight the simultaneous feeling of power and powerlessness, and the often crushing isolation that comes with my being a black woman in higher academia. Throughout my life in schools, including two Masters degrees, I was among a tiny handful of people of color and the only black woman in my program. As I head into a PhD in music composition in the Fall of 2018, I’m afraid it will remain the same. I love that I’ll be able to raise awareness, but I hate being “one of the only.” Casey Quinlan, and many other authors on the subject of PoC in higher academia, wrote that “one of the greatest challenges of being a black college student at a predominantly white college is the pressure to represent your entire race positively by succeeding at everything.” I believe this sentiment extends to all marginalized groups in the United States in some ways. It is lonely. It is exhausting. And though yes, it is getting slightly better, it will take a very very long time to rectify.

I recognize the specific privilege that comes with being biracial; having lighter skin and certain features have allowed me certain ‘advantages’ that many of my darker sisters and brothers have not experienced. Many of them have had much worse, scarier, lonelier experiences than I, all while being isolated in the academic pursuit they are chasing. To them, I see you. Let me be your shoulder to lean on. I know I’ll probably need your shoulders too. TOWERS is for me, and for all those who reside in their own stronghold. Though we often feel confined to our own separate spires in our own separate kingdoms, I know that someday we’ll all be able to come down. Slowly but surely, we will all rise together.

Some small doable things that might help:

1. Take the initiative to learn about African-American history, and examine the timeline of when we were allowed to go to the same schools as everyone else. It wasn’t too long ago, and being aware of that is important.
2. Speak up on behalf of your POC peers if the content provided by your teachers is exclusively white/western/exclusionary/etc. and ask them to include a more diverse curriculum.
3. Don’t always carry the expectation for your POC peers to speak up about issues regarding diversity- if a colleague or professor says something problematic that would potentially harm a POC colleague, don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you “don’t know how to eloquently word it”- speak up to defend your colleagues in the moment rather than issuing an apology on behalf of the speaker after the fact (“I’m sorry you had to hear that earlier...”)
4. Don’t just listen when a POC colleague speaks up about an issue- listen and internalize and think about why they said what they said- if they said something you didn’t quite understand, research!"

-Shelley Washington


released April 3, 2019
Composed by Shelley Washington

Performed and Commissioned by Lior Willinger

Video and Audio Post-Production by Four/Ten Media

Audio Engineering by Atticus Hebson and Noah Frank


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Lior Willinger Baltimore, Maryland

Award-winning pianist Lior Willinger is passionately committed to inspiring empathy, understanding, and action through music.

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