Would You Like An Umbrella? #acui15

umbrella1This past week I was in the city of San Antonio for this year’s ACUI Conference and right off the bat I can say that I had a great time. I was a part of two panel discussions (one about the retention of men of color in our field and the other was #blacklivesmatter in our college unions) that me feel like I’m really giving something back to our community. Of course, with all the hard work and learning comes a slew of social activities because most of us have to enjoy the host city. It’s times like these that I realize that liquor and I aren’t always the best of friends.

I’m not a fan of the margarita. Sure, I enjoy tequila in limited amounts, but huge Texas sized chalices of margarita goodness is not meant for me. First night, I had one I felt like I was drinking ocean water with some flavored alchol. I admit, I’m not a pro but I made the attempt while enjoying the sights of the Riverwalk. However, the next night I discovered a place that had frozen coconut margaritas that completely rocked me and reminded me so much of a pina colada (which honestly is more my speed). From this point, I figured if other places had THIS flavor with less salt then perhaps I can hang.

So the next night a group of us hang out late again (work hard, play hard) and we go to a place that along the Riverwalk. We sit down and l look at the drink menu and all I’m thinking about is how I have to be up at 6 am so I’m really not trying to overdo it. Of course, this place does not serve coconut margaritas. However, I will rock the pina colada because that is what they have! So I’m good.

Waiter shows up and takes all the orders and I just happen to be last one. Please understand my colleagues are pros, they order these colossal sized drinks so I expected to be ribbed about the size of my drink because it will most likely not be in a goblet of goodness. Waiter looks at me as I order the pina colada and replies, “Would you like an umbrella with that sir?”

So let’s pause here. I know the implications of what he’s saying. I understand the language of snark and sarcasm. I’m also that dude that can take a verbal beating as well as dish it So, I know that he’s telling me he thinks this is a girl drink, which by the way, am I not paying for this drink? Doesn’t my tip depend on your customer service? Also, what’s wrong with a woman’s drink?

So I reply, “Yup, I will take the umbrella and make sure it’s pink too” (there is laughter)

I think he was stunned by my response since I’m very confident in my masculinity. He responds, “Sir, that’s a bit of a girlie drink, are you sure you don’t want another drink?”

“Unless you have a coconut margarita…”

“I will put you down for a pina colada.”

By the way, the drink I ordered was exactly what I wanted. To my colleagues who felt the need to tell the waiter to just leave me alone and let me order whatever I want, you are awesome. While, I was not angry, I needed to make the point that I don’t have time for his awful gender bias. A woman drink? Really? Women are awesome. I could’ve gone into a whole explanation of how I work for an all woman college, but what would be the point? He needed to see that I’m perfectly fine drinking what he thinks is a girl drink. I could care less what he thinks of me.

Which ultimately brings me to my point. We spend too much time thinking about what other people may think about us. We spend to much time thinking about how we are viewed by society. We need to just do what feels right because at the end of the day we are the ones who have to look ourselves in the mirror.

Once you realize that, then you can imagine how our students feel when they live their lives outside of what society feels is normal.

By way, they were out of umbrellas…

Where are the Campus Protests?

hr01I went on a mini rant yesterday on Twitter. Which is not usual for me. Every so often I will have something creep up to the surface of my consciousness that will have me unnerved. This was sparked by the fact that one of my former students is in trouble. As upset as I was about that, it became compounded with previous thoughts coming from a conversation I had with family.

One has to understand that the older members of my family come from a generation of protest. The things that most of us take advantage of in colleges is because they protested to get it when they were in college. I’m not just simply talking about the Civil Rights Movement. There were numerous protests about the war in Vietnam and subsequently protests about college curriculum as it pertained to Black and Latino Studies. Most of my family grew up during the time of The Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.

So the question they proposed to me is, “Why don’t college kids care anymore?” I’m not even sure I have an answer for that. What I do know is that the perception of struggle is different and internalized in a different way. Many of these kids lack the ability to see their own privilege. There is also a distinct disconnect to history and community.

Taking a few steps further, one would have to be more than blind to see the shortcomings of this economy and the short falls of government. The price of education rises steadily every year at a rate higher than inflation. There will a point in time when education is just too expensive. What will happen then? When will the youth fight for their right to be educated on their terms? The availability to education will no longer be a race issue, it will be a class issue — an issue of the haves and the have nots.

Gone are the days of sit ins. I can actually say that I was involved in a sit in during my college days. I believe it was freshman or sophomore year, when there was a group of individuals who lead us to sit in (and thus shutting down) the Tolley Administration Building at Syracuse. During that time, it was the office of Chancellor Shaw and we was not happy to see nothing but students of color sitting right out side his door. What were protesting? The rise of tuition, which at that time was almost 20k.

We saw the writing on the wall then. We knew friends that were not coming back the following semester or year because it was just too expensive. Look at things now. I am still paying off my loans and I don’t owe a fraction of what these kids who graduate now will owe. Yet, what is the outcome of apathy? Debt? When does the amount of a student loan outweigh someone’s life time salary? And yet, some of my students (the males, in particular,) get upset with me because I care too much about their grades. Because (according to them) I do not understand the fraternity life they are living. There is nothing to understand. Graduation is the only outcome especially if you are going to owe that much money.