Conferencing is Not a Luxury and Neither is the Scholarly Life of Our Future Colleagues

Conferencing is Not a Luxury and Neither is the Scholarly Life of Our Future Colleagues

By Tiffany Willoughby-HeraldUniversity of California, Irvine

This spotlight article uses Audre Lorde’s groundbreaking essay, Poetry Is Not a Luxury (1984), to consider a set of conditions not of my own making but that I survived. Therefore, the argument—funding first-generation, underrepresented minority, undocumented, refugee, Middle Eastern and/or Islamic, Native/ First Nations, and African/Black & African Diaspora/Caribbean students to attend academic conferences as soon and as often as possible—is better described as a testimony— with a poem in the middle—and not as an endorsement of best practices. The genre of best practices suggests somehow a problem solved and not an ongoing, deeply violent dialectic of power. It is the latter with which I am concerned so I leave best practices to readers whose good faith compels them to stand outside of their own individual interests. Moreover, I am concerned with offering testimonial evidence and spurring a forthright conversation about ethical practices and principled necessities. As a testimony that insists on refusing silencing, it is worth exploring this set of conditions of ongoing, deeply violent dialectics of power. These particular groups of students are being enthusiastically recruited to campuses that are not willing to commit to their success in higher education. Departments must prioritize the funding of these particular groups of students with recruitment that supports them and their faculty mentors attending regional and national conferences each year during their graduate training. Period.

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