Welcome back to Status:Melanated’s blog series, "If only I had known, life would've been different". Here we explore different perspectives of former students, employees, and employers of color in predominantly white communities. This week’s blog post is by Dr. Ikeranda Smith who holds a doctorate in Psychology with a concentration in teaching from Walden University. She also obtained her Master’s degree in Psychology from Walden University and her Bachelors in Business Management from National Louis University.
Dr. Smith is currently evolving into who she desires to be by extending her expertise in environments that are underserved. On a normal day, she can be found quietly moving throughout the atmosphere fulfilling her purpose. Please enjoy this post:
“They say education is the great equalizer...” Donovan Livingston
I went back to school to acquire my education because it was necessary. It was essential because my ancestors had fought so hard for me to be able to obtain as much knowledge as my counterparts. It was crucial because years ago, it was forbidden for people of color to be literary giants. It was necessary because I wanted my two children to see what resilience looks like in the face of adversity. It was required for me to redefine my life on my terms. So I went back to school and finished up my Bachelors, attained my Masters, and Doctorate simultaneously…only to get to the end of the road asking for permission to come in the room.
Who knew that once you obtain your education, you would have to bang on the door to be let into a room that you already purchased the keys for? Then I am reminded of the keeper of the keys… I am reminded that for so many people of color once we secure an education that our portion of the pie is but a mere sliver. I am reminded that for people of color in some spaces we still have to assimilate; that in order for some of us to get into certain industries we need an ally. I am reminded that in order for some us to get in the door we need for more people of color to be in leadership positions so that one may open a window, crack a door, slide a key under a mat, or just let us in.
It never ceases to amaze me that with people of color we fall into 1 of 2 categories; we are either extremely uneducated, or dangerously over-educated. The reality is that in those 2 categories there are only limited positions, but there has to be more people willing to make room. Making room means leveling the playing field by; putting more people of color in leadership roles, discontinuing diversity positions in an effort to hire one person of color, be courageous and change the culture of your organization to fit the world we live in, change the pay rates to give a more equitable salary, and most importantly get rid of the glass ceiling so that everyone can soar.
Despite all of these anomalies, I still believe in education. I believe that readers are leaders, and that I am not over credentialed and underprivileged; there is enough room for everyone. Everyone deserves a seat at the table. I believe that diversity and inclusion is not a position but a culture. All people of color must seek to get into places of visibility and leadership so that other people of color can hold those same positions. America must stop changing the locks, but rather unhinging the doors of disparity by making room for everyone. People of color must major in underrepresented industries to ensure we are represented everywhere. Adding more chairs in the room doesn’t make it overcrowded, rather it elevates the conversations.