I will not be the first to say it or prove it because of the legacy I claim. The legacy of black women’s intellect. The legacy to exist as a whole person as I breath this wind no matter how sharp or cold the inhales. A legacy of black women who have been pioneering theory and knowledge creation inside a world of balance and beauty.
In this PhD journey I am becoming more comfortable with the process of framing any claims I am wanting to make with theories. Luckily for me, I knew the sound and feel and of my art being embodied with a language that respected the ground my ancestors toiled and turned. Also lucky for me I studied Africana Women’s Studies at a HBCU and was introduced to a platform of scholarship that affirm the holistic agency of black women. So now that I am back in theatre, I am waltzing with a world that has no problem thickening the boundary of marginalizing me as an artist and budding scholar.
Theatre, you do not exist without drums. Or the quilted curtains that open and close a world designed from black women’s comfort and smiles.
I am in a program with no black people appointed on the faculty. No Professors to offer seminars on their research interests that would most likely be host to discourse on the borders of gender, race or class from a centered perspective. With no one to rally for the social and political interests of black students, the curriculum adheres to hegemony and the unwavering white imagination on blackness. So I have joined the “how do I sift through the compost of oppressive constructs and still have energy to find the same paradigm speaking my language?”
Theatre, you are not monolith. Don’t believe history or the curriculum. Turn off the spotlight until they all are voiced.
I’m almost at the finish line. For my first semester in my PhD program that is! (haha) This process is a bit different from my recent MA program. Here I have an assistantship and I don’t have to work full-time. For anyone considering this journey… GET FUNDING FOR YOUR PH.D!!! All of the study habits I garnered for research papers and my thesis I can apply now in an uninterrupted manner. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is better than that.
My plans for this degree are… my own. I’m not a traditional student, meaning I am coming into this after years of being in the business, traveling, performing and speaking. I am not worried or stressed about what to do afterwards. I will keep my options opens but what is non-negotiable is my happiness. I see and I’ve heard what happens to black women in the “ivory tower” and all I can say is… Nikki has options that she will continue to stay in positive and creative graces with.
As I close out this semester, I am getting closer to identifying my key terms and the broader concepts of my research. Virtual learning has been an interesting struggle and working in theatre remotely is strange as all out. But here is to the future Dr. Nikki in Theatre and Performance Studies! First semester is in the BOOKS!
I honestly hadn’t realized it had been almost a year since I posted on my blog. Life… mercy.
Well, I picked up a Master’s in Africana Women’s Studies and now I am absolutely stupid happy that I am studying theatre again. Last semester I dipped my toe in an acting class to sharpen my chops and immediately fell in love with theatre again. why did I ever leave you? So I am aiming for a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies. It’s necessary. It’s necessary to continue my interdisciplinary approach as well. It’s also necessary to stay creative. While getting my MA it was all work… no play. That’s not healthy for me. I know me.
It’s midterms so I actually need to finish up on some papers due by the end of the week. I promise to be back in touch in less than two weeks.