I am convinced every PhD student has quit at least once, if not once a day…

I started a PhD program around 2018 with the expectation that the world would open up for the young Black brother from the south exploring theological terrains. It was a quest that was far beyond anything that I would have imagined. The fear of being looked upon as being the dummy in the room was a real thing; the fear of your work being rejected; and, the fear of failing. All of these things were normal occurrences as I talked with my colleagues and fellow PhD classmates— “We all had our moments where we felt insufficient.

The obtaining of a PhD is the art of crafting a masterpiece that you have yet to fully grasped its intention.

The obstacles that evolve become opportunities to excavate the archive known as your soul. I am not sure if one obtains or completes a PhD as much as they craft an experience that is symbolized by a degree and a transcript.

I am convinced every PhD student has quit at least once, if not once a day…


The Appointed Need to Learn

It has been three weeks since I started my PhD. program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. In those three weeks I have read about 7 or 8 books, a plethora of essays and had more meaningful conversations than you can imagine. It has given me a new appreciation for those with PhD’s, to say the least. But, one of the books that I am re-reading is The Souls of Black Folk. There is a section in the chapter entitled Of the Black Belt that resonated stridently with me. Du Bois is sitting on the porch after a long hot drive with his routine interlocutor of sorts, and asks whether or not they ever owned land. The “neat matronly preacher’s wife, plump, yellow and intelligent” as Du Bois describes, starts to share that the only land that have is the house. She details how they were cheated out of the land they purchased by the white racist establishment. The husband, then, responds by calling the same man who stole their land a “regular cheater.” He continues to tell how he worked for the man for 37 days and he promised to pay, but reneged on the wages. This started a cycle of events that led to him losing his mule, corn and furniture. Du Bois responds, “Furniture…but furniture is exempted from seizure by law.” The husbands response is what prompted by tensions: “Well he took it just the same…”
I sit daily in a restricted place of privilege where access to education is afforded to me. I can read, write and engage others, as we struggle to identify the systems plotting to destroy our growth. It is a serious endeavor to be a part of a community that recognizes the existential reality that what we are doing here matters. We are not just here to dazzle people with our new words and phrases, but our souls are embedded in the pages of assignment. We search for excellence as an ode to the elders who paved the way. Education is our Black Rage –our creative response to the trauma that has been rendered lawlessly upon our blessed souls.
So, we accept this appointment to learn, with honor, dignity and revolutionary vigor, in order that we may find the necessary words to address to the atrocities when black and brown folks have been cheated. Because we can’t afford too many more, “Well he took it just the same…”