Find Your Way Back: Black Colleagues Return to the Erotic

Main Article Content

Noel Anderson


This paper provides an analysis of the effects anti-Black violence have had on the return of Black colleagues (administrators, faculty, and staff) to higher education after the the 2020 murder of African American citizen George Floyd at the hands of now former Minneapolis police officers. Riffing off of R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s song of return, “Find Your Way Back” and using it as a loose organizational rubric—each section is titled from the song’s lyrics—I ask what answers we might find between return and resignation. The analysis starts with the question of return: How in the hell do Black colleagues return to the university after a collective trauma? The essay centralizes the concerns of Black colleagues in higher education, positioning us between resignation and return. It seeks to consider (pending a return) to what are we returning. To explore this liminal dilemma—resignation or return—the essay will trace the lineage of racism located in higher education to slavery and the violent exclusion of African Americans from gaining access to knowledge. Briefly tracing American education’s lineage to White supremacy, I aim to frame our possible return against an institution that parodies its paternal line. The essay will show that the racism characteristic of American history morphed into an insidious, invisible source of oppression termed microaggressions. To address the consequences of racial microaggressions, I draw on psychotherapeutic clinical research on the effects of racial microaggressions on Black workers. Mirroring clinicians’ approach to addressing the race-based problems of higher education, I call on the Black feminist scholar Audre Lorde’s notion of “the erotic” as a spiritual power source. I look at how Lorde explored Black psychology and trauma within higher education in her poem “Blackstudies.” Mining this and her other triumphant essay “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” I look to establish “the erotic” as a comparable counterpunch to microaggressions in higher education.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Anderson, N. (2021). Find Your Way Back: Black Colleagues Return to the Erotic. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(4).
Pedagogy of the Polarized