My name is Bria and as you can see by the name of this blog, I am from the city of Grenville in Grenada. Where is Grenada? Well it is at the southern most tip of the Caribbean islands, right before Trinidad. Since we are part of the Lesser Antilles, we are not know as much as you can say …Puerto Rico, Jamaica or Cuba. But no matter how small the island I am proud to be a Grenadian! I currently live in Los Angeles, California…pretty far away from home you might say, but LA or the City of Angels I like to say is like my second home and I also call myself a native Angeleno!
Update currently in Kansas So I may need to change up the name of this blog !
Uh wait I’m in NYC…!
Now as for what this blog will focus on? Well I like to think of it as a way to vent but I got my inspiration from a great novel called ” Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche , the main character, Ifemelu ‘s blog on her experiences as a Non-American Black inspired me so I may through in some perspectives from that. I also hope to get friends to write their blogs and post them here… Hmmm I don’t know what else to add…
Oh Enjoy this beautiful picture of my hometown Grenville or La Baye as it’s known in French.
So y’all, it’s been almost a year since I graduated from Grad School. It has been quite the rollercoaster of emotions, job hunting, mental health struggles, and finding myself. I never had been one to post much about my achievements on Facebook, and for job updates, I never posted anything pertaining to that except for updating my LinkedIn profile and you never saw the updates, you had to go on my profile to see what the hell was going on with me. I preferred it that way, the same way I barely told anyone I was working for MIT (major achievement) and if I did I really trusted or you knew long after I started. People seemed to have issues with black people who gained such recognition or positions rather than they did and I never cared for the attention. I boast in private! 🙂
But what I tend to realize is that my trajectory after Grad school was different than my white peers. They boasted about their jobs, achievements, or whatever! Most importantly, they were always happy to return to our alma mater. Why? I think my experience there was different… was it because I was black? One of two black people in my cohort? I do not see much excitement in returning to such a university to work for them. As a matter of fact, I prefer not to work for them. I needed a new experience. I knew the administration way too much and I was involved in DEI efforts and saw the struggles. I found out also that my mentee that was having a difficult experience like me, lack of support for students of color, especially in Grad programs, is becoming a bit of a concern for me. It is exactly why I got into DEI work with the Speech Pathology students and found my community with them. I am extremely grateful!
Why is it that our trajectory is so different? I feel like I did not like the majority of folks in my cohort, it felt a bit fake towards the end of the year and honestly, I think most were obsessed with not being like the previous cohort, where in fact I LIKE that the previous cohort struggled and was not fake, I had a few friends there, I can’t say the same for these…..
Lastly, that ‘invitation’ my cohort got to attend or join the hooding ceremony was sooooooooo ‘ if you wanna come you can come’ that I even wondered why I was receiving this? I can tell you right now that if I had to consider a Ph.D. program, I would do more vetting and make sure that the faculty was supportive or had more faculty of color to help guide students like me who WANT the best for themselves. I came to hate research after this program and the skills I gained were gained on the job, not even from class.
So although it is graduation season coming up and I am going back to Kansas for that, it also coincides with Mother’s day…..
Not my favorite day to celebrate anything. What’s worst is that my graduation last year also clashed with Mother’s day.
But I personally harbor resentment towards that day. Mostly because I don’t have a mother. But mostly because I don’t know what it is like to enjoy that day with anyone anymore. Any mother figure in my life is far away, not in my life or gone. I find myself searching for this contantly as I feel very lost.
‘Holidays’ like this tend to be all in your face and forget the mere fact that there might be people out there who do not have a mother, who might hide from social media posts dedicated to moms so that they don’t become triggered, or who might not want to ‘wish’ you a Happy Mother’s day. What’s so happy about the day anyways?
With that said, please cherish your parents everyday and not just one day a year!
Spending Easter at home in NY was very unusual for me. I am never at home for Easter, I am usually on campus and doing Easter duty or working or back in California and working. Due to my uncle hurting himself Friday night, we did not celebrate with my Aunt in Canarsie and spend time with the rest of the family.
Every Good Friday, it is TRADITION to eat salt or canned Mackeral and Rice or Green Bananas. Well although I am in Brooklyn, I did not want to venture to find salt mackerel, so canned it was, I had green bananas but I didn’t feel like eating it so, and of all the odd days to try something new, I decided to follow the recipe on the can. I had almost all the ingredients I needed and it was simple enough to follow. I made it will on a call for one of my numerous committees.
The recipe came out surprisingly good and Dad loved it??? I even made round 2 on Easter Sunday Ahah.
Posting the recipe below for it and credits to Grace Foods Jamaica!
Preparation time 20m Cooking time 40m
4 tablespoon(s) Grace Margarine
2 stalk(s) escallion, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sweet pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1 teaspoon(s) scotch bonnet pepper, chopped
3 can(s) Grace Mackerel in Tomato Sauce, 5.5 oz.
1 teaspoon(s) black pepper
2 cup(s) cabbage, shredded
3 1/2 cup(s) boiling water
1 packet(s) Grace Cock Soup Mix
4 cup(s) Grace Rice
Grace Mackerel Seasoned Rice Directions
Heat Grace Hello Margarine in a 3 litre pot and saute, chopped escallion, onion, sweet pepper, tomato and scotch bonnet pepper for about one minute.
Mix in the Grace Mackerel and the black pepper.
Add cabbage, stir well and cook for about two minutes.
Pour in the boiling water, add the Grace Cock Soup Mix and stir well.
Add the Grace Rice, stir for even distribution, then bring to a boil.
Lower flame, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.Method Note: Grace Corned Beef, or any other canned fish or meat can be substituted for the Grace Mackerel.
So my new job is going well……it has its ups and downs like everywhere. But it was incredibly hard to navigate a new institution, it was worst this time but maybe I was used to how MIT onboarded me that the way I started out I had little guidance. I persisted nonetheless and I will do the same here regardless.
I will say that my current supervisor, although he may not look like it, is the most supportive person on this planet. I knew he had a reputation for being smart, adept, and just naturally good at his work but, when people know I work with him…. they fan girl to me about him.. like wow! This guy is the best thing out there right? And don’t get me wrong, besides us having similar first names and same middle initials, he is great to work with. Downsides? He is a workaholic who is so reserved and stoic that he does not show his non-work side or the fact that he has personality. Which is not bad, as he gave reasons for the way he is. My biggest advocate in the office? Our admin assistant. She is so well versed, funny and outspoken, I trust her judgment and knowledge on everything. We were talking in our 1:1 meetings and something came up about our boss and then we came to the realization that we had the same idea and same experiences with him. Like I said he is not bad but he has his faults and if we were both seeing it then…. we need an intervention.
So we planned it, it was a staff meeting, everything went on the agenda. We planned what we would say and how I would interject and back her up on what she said. The main thing we needed was communication; we need to be on the same page especially not being in the office together like they were last semester and us going in less than we used to. The second thing we needed was to be inclusive of our admin assistant and involve her in our office. Previously working with admins was an MIT thing, but they were never involved as much, however, I felt the need to have a different relationship this time. She said she had never had a conduct meeting and I tried as much as I could to get her in meetings to experience it, I want her more involved now, and she is willing to help, I mean she has been at the institution for 11 years…. she knows this place more than us so she can guide us the best way. Lastly, we wanted to help our supervisor and get a chance to see his non-work side and get to know him as a person. According to our admin, I am the most open and she knows me the most I have been there barely 5 months, he’s been here a year and she barely does.
To our surprise, he was remarkably receptive to our suggestions to improve the office, communicate more with us and share more about his life. I find myself genuinely surprised when he opens up about his life, likes, or dislikes. He still has some work to do and we will get him there (hopefully).
In an effort to find more ways to include self-care into my life routine, I found taking care of my nails to be quite the new obsession for me. I had never done acrylic nails before, not even for special occasions. I mostly frowned upon it, especially if very long, due to how it can cause you to be perceived, aka black ghetto woman, etc (but we need to unlearn this and just say fuck it!) but last year I got into press on nails and I loved them, so I thought it was a good segway to get into the real thing .
This year, right before my ASCA conference I was scheduled to present at, I wanted to get a regualr gel manicure, but my nails were breaking, chipping, and not growing, so I did some research on acrylics, found a salon near me that specializes in it (looked through their instagram mostly) and tada….I got nails! I kept these on for two solid months, changing the color and doing a fill-in ever so often. I loved it so much I gave my nails a break and then back I went. Now that summer is coming around, pedicures need to be done (no acrylic pedicures…toe nails are long enough) and I can do the nails ever so often as needed. Take a look at my recent nail designs… I am obsessed!
It has been a while since I have written anything here, life has taken its toll on me but I am adjusting. I started my new job in January and it has been filled with ups and downs, I literally have posts that there waiting to be posted, drafts that need attention.
It is my hope that as I get over a difficult phase in my life that I can return to the joy of writing for this blog.
It’s November 8th and it’s a great day to be a first generation college student. This day is so important for many like me who were the first in our families and generation to earn a college degree. For me this was twice, first to attain a Bachelors degree and first to attain a Masters degree, I am also the first female in my immediate family to have a Masters and only female on my immediate mother’s side to have both degrees. I see myself as setting the way for future generations…and days like this are a big deal to me.
College is hard enough, looking back on my time as a student starting out at Santa Monica College I don’t know how I did it. I had so many road blocks, from being considered an immigrant and non-resident student to fighting to get my transcripts in, to high tuition to working full time and going to school. The highlight of my time there came in 2014 when I was recruited to be part of Phi Theta Kappa, from then my life would forever change as this opened doors for me and provided scholarships and leadership opportunities. Then I got to Stetson and I began to shape my life as a somewhat traditional college student, although I was a non-traditional transfer student, I made opportunities for myself and found the support of those around me, in order to get a footing on campus I got involved : Student Government, Residential Life, APAC, Committees and more. I was well known and well loved and by the time I graduated I had a job lined up and was doing well. The gap year between undergrad and grad was not good. I suffered. I lost jobs, my mental health sucked and I was struggling financially. The highlight of this was the support I got to go through applying to grad school. Honestly till this day I don’t know what I did, but I got into the University of Kansas, got a Grad Assistantship position to work while in the program and left for Kansas leaving everything behind falling apart. My support system became the office of Student Affairs, Conduct and my Equity and Inclusion Workgroup who was ever so proud of me.
My journey as a first generation college student was not easy,but I am proud to make it this far despite it all. To repay all those along the way I went into student affairs/higher education to make those small, confusing steps easier for students like me. My identities are unique in that I am an immigrant, afro-caribbean, cis-gendered woman. As I move through my time here I understand my place in the world and strive to break down barriers for those like me, especially Black women.
So Happy First Generation College Student Day and celebrate in the best possible way!
I can’t stress this enough. Remember my post about microagressions in higher education ? Well it does not stop there for us..
This topic came to mind as I was talking to a friend from my Equity and Inclusion workgroup. I still keep in touch and I am very close to them because honestly…. they made my experience the best that it was while in grad school. It happened that on Indigenous Peoples Day (we don’t say Columbus Day around here), we had a meeting and I went but kinda felt like I could not contribute much, however Karina, the only other black woman in the group, wanted to ask me a question so I was like ‘Yea why not?’
Our conversation went on to go for another hour. Karina thought that as I was another black person who was in Kansas who came from a more diverse area, I would understand her situation. She was having a hard time connecting to the community (coming from Oakland, this was a different scene for me so I get her!). She was exhausted having to explain everything to not only white folks she worked/ interacted with but also non-black POC people that also had anti racist tendancies. She was tired of being the only black person around and tired of doing all the DEI work. She had the support of her husband but she said it has been a hard time adjusting. She’s a first year PhD student in Speech Pathology program and dreading the rest of her time at KU, she wished she thought about moving here a bit more than she did. Thinking how most of us were graduating soon made her feel even sadder. Knowing that I was in a similar position to her made her reach out and just air everything out and I was glad she did.
And the thing is ….I GET HER. I get it all. Had it not been for Samantha finding me that day… grad school would be miserable. And here I was thinking that I wanted to get a PhD/ EdD in Higher Ed… and I hated my experience with a certain professor which turned me off from wanted to be at a PWI. Kimberle Crenshaw and her concept of intersectionality follows me around all the time… I am a black woman.. sometimes I am not taken seriously or listened to. It is frustrating. How can I pursue better if the system constantly puts me at the bottom of the ladder? Would being at a predominantly black institution help correct things? I would never know unless I try. But thinking about where my interests lie, it would be best to search out a very diverse program.
The conversation ended as I started this post… its hard.. being a black woman in academia is hard, I hope to change the narrative and let those behind be navigate higher education easier than I did.
Karina thanked me for listening and the kind words, I told her if she would like me to check in with her often let me know… we need to support each other!