Recently in a class at Pennsylvania State University, the instructor, Ashley Patterson, asked the class of 25 students: How many had ever been into the house of someone of a different race? One raised a hand.
Then: How many ever had a meal with someone of a different race? Two.
When Charlotte D’Evelyn stepped onto the bucolic campus of Mount Holyoke College in 1917, she was surely elated to join the faculty of the oldest institution for women’s higher education in the US. Looking around, maybe the hills of South Hadley, Massachusetts, reminded her of the steeper slopes of her hometown, San Francisco; perhaps the turrets of the Williston Memorial Library recalled the spires of buildings like the Bodleian at Oxford, where she had recently studied.
Rey’s ambiguous head bobbling mirrors my ambivalence toward questions I have about my life in academia.
I should explain that Rey is a bobblehead of a character from Star Wars Episode VII who stands watch over my desk. I acquired her recently at a conference on digital communication technology and college writing. A keynote speaker, Allen Brizee, used Star Wars as the theme of his talk on community engagement. He has led university programs to help community members cross the “digital divide” between those with access to digital tech and those without. At the end of his speech, he had us check under our seats for a coupon for a bobblehead Rey or Finn. To my surprise, I had the coupon for Rey!