jennifer lisa vest, “what doesn’t kill you”

excerpts from jennifer lisa vest, “what doesn’t kill you: existential luck, postracial racism, and the subtle and not so subtle ways the academy keeps women of color out” in seattle journal of social justice 12.2 (2013). vest was assaulted by campus police at the university where she worked as a professor in 2010.

“‘The University killed me. Don’t let them do this to you.’ – Professor Barbara Christian” (471)

barbara christian (1943-2000)

“What is important about my case is not that I was mistreated, but rather that the macroagression of police violence is part of a continuum of racist homophobic patriarchal violence that all women of color experience on various levels. Women of Color professors experience macroaggressions as serious assaults on their physical safety while also enduring microassaults in the profession. The end result is that women of color often leave the university or are forced out. They experience chronic or life- threatening illnesses, become disabled, and sometimes they die.

My dissertation advisor, Professor Barbara Christian, a Black feminist literary scholar, while on her deathbed, told her mentees, that the University had killed her. She cautioned us not to let it do the same to us. Another one of my professors, Latina Feminist scholar Norma Alarcon, was forced to early retire due to medical disability brought on by stress. Viola Cordova, one of the founders of Academic Native American Philosophy, and an important mentor for me as a Native philosopher, died in her fifties of ischemic stroke after a long stressful career working in untenured positions at numerous universities where she was marginalized. The Academy is killing women of color.” (485)


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