at first it was a pleasant surprise, but last night it warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
growing up in minnesota in the 80s there were not large immigrant populations, not a lot of mixed-race people… really not much of anything but white white everywhere white. for those who think this is a white state now, let me introduce you to mpls 1984. i wasn’t completely alone, but it was nothing like it is now.
in school, all i heard about africa was national geographics with saggy boobied women, naked fromt he waist up with bones through their noses, starving children swarmed in flies, the schoolyard taunt of “african booty snatcher!!!” there was no positivity and reality. that was what struck me when i went to nigeria. i certainly wasn’t expecting to see my childhood teachings, but what struck me most was the ordinariness. just people.
so back to my professor. he has a phd and is a marriage and family therapist and currently works as a specialist with victims of torture. i love his gentle manner, his elegant speaking, the way that he reminds me of the way it feels in africa. as he teaches us, shares his insights, uses african immigrants in examples of the theories we’re learning, integrates cultural food for thought into the western-based theories we’re learning about… as he stands as our expert and teacher, i am touched, overwhelmed, inspired, blown away. for a moment i think of my classmates. i am so thankful for the opportunity they have been given; it may not be as personally meaningful to them, but i am grateful that they get a chance to see an african man this way, too.
because i have gotten over well in white culture having been raised and immersed in it all my life, it is an almost painfully beautiful thing to have an african professor presenting our material in a way that incorporates african culture and values. it’s not “african studies.” he is not dressed in traditional clothing.
he is simply a phd from kenya teaching a systems theory class at adler.
and i am overjoyed!