It’s that time of year where I always like to reflect on another academic year in the books! This time around I wanted to share my gratitude and appreciation in the form of a letter to my students.
You have done it again. You have figured out a way to pull at my heartstrings and fill me with emotion. Let me first start out by saying I am so proud of the work that you have done and will continue to do. Many of you started out with me when I arrived to VCU in the Summer of 2020, several of you became repeat student in my classes, and to see you walk across the stage with the biggest smiles is truly a proud moment.
This semester much like the previous ones was definitely a roller coaster ride, it just has a new name! I enjoyed coming to both classes with a new mindset and leaving with new energy. For Spring 2022, I got the opportunity to teach a special topics course, AFAM 491: Say Her Name-Humanizing the Black Female Voice in Television. From the onset, I was excited about teaching this course because we would be discussing three televisions shows that were changing the game (HBO Max’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, I May Destroy You, and STARZ’s P-Valley). The format of the course would be different and outside of my normal lecture-discussion style. For this class we would be doing regular deep dives (almost each class period). The excitement that each of you brought was mind-blowing, considering many had never watched the shows or even heard of them. And like most new classes you are never sure how it will play out, but this was definitely a win. The diverse perspectives that each of you brought to the discussions, along with implementing your critical thinking skills really made me wish we could add more time to each class. There was never a day when we did not run over, and in this case that was not a bad thing. Who knew that critical television analysis could be so fun and engaging?!! And then when we had the surprise guest (Cherokee Hall-‘Extra Extra’) from P-Valley come and talk with us you all really lit up! Thank you for doing the work and making it easy for me to come to campus and show-up 110%!!
I also got to teach one of my tried and true favorite courses, AFAM 111: Introduction to Africana Studies. Now this class had a different format as well, it was a one-day a week meeting for 2 hours and 40 mins. And let me tell you, I had no idea where I would even begin with this teaching in this format, but we made it work. Lecture for the first part and a film screening in the latter half. While this posed a challenge, your feedback about the class set-up was much appreciated and well received. Change can be difficult, with solid teamwork the possibilities were endless. With many of the students in this class were freshman and sophomores, my hope is that you got at least a little something that might add, change, reframe, and/or expand your thinking and engagement with the world going forward. Thank you for helping me to be more inclusive, push my creative lens, and nurture my heart, mind and soul.
Now for some of you the next step is graduate school in either a new city or even state. Take all the skills you have gained and build from them, create new memories, show the world whose next up! And others are going straight into the job market, putting that talent into action immediately. As the historian Keisha Blain said, in reference to the Black Nationalist Women fighting for global freedom, “set the world on fire.” “Set the world on fire” with innovative methods of change, “Set the world on fire” with your leadership, “Set the world on fire” with your unapologetic attitude, and “Set the world on fire” with your joy and determination. You got this!!
When people tell me, “I can see the passion that you have and the deep care for your students,” I get all emotional again because that statement is soooo true! I love what I do and would not change it for the world!
While I may not be your professor anymore, just know that I am always here to support in any way that I can. I’m just an email or call away!
Another semester in the books…Another set of grades submitted…Let the summer begin!!
Till we meet again scholars!!