The books felt stiff to me. Unwelcoming, theoretical in the abstract, difficult to relate to. Maybe I didn’t belong here.
But I’d chosen graduate school because I love books and love ideas – because when I had tried to leave university I desperately missed the company of my friends.
But these books were not my friends. Heidegger. Kant. Weber. Bloch. Even Derrida. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find interesting things within them, it’s that I couldn’t find myself or a world I recognised.
With despair I thought: maybe I’ve made a mistake. Maybe I’m more activist than academic. Maybe a phd, a university, is not the place for me.
But now I know that it wasn’t me who was wrong, it was the books. I’ve found again my Angela Davis and Stuart Hall, my Gloria Anzaldua and Marilyn Frye.
Who we’re taught and who we teach matters, not least of all because it changes who has friends in the classroom and who feels they’re welcome there.