Now that I have finished my PhD journey, well almost.  I have not attended my graduation ceremony yet.  I find myself reflecting more and more about my academic journey as well as my career and personal life.  I feel I am at a stage in my life where I feel I can use my personal insights to encourage, empower and support other women like me, who are going through their academic, career and personal life journey.

During my PhD journey, I found my poetic voice and wrote many poems as I tussled with my multiple identities, of being black, woman, and practitioner -researcher, mother, daughter, sister, friend, partner, and more.  As well as listening and recording the many stories of black women like me, who have endured and overcome the trials and tribulations of being black and woman in academia and employment.

I would like to share one of my poems entitled ‘Displacement’ I wrote during my PhD journey.  The stanzas give an insight into the pressure I felt and my drive and desire to achieve success when the odds were stacked against me.

I need to do better,

I need to improve,

I need to work harder,

So, I am better than you.

I am not good enough,

I do not know enough,

How did I become this grade?

What did I do?

I am not worthy to work in this place.

I will attend training,

Gain higher qualifications,

Speak eloquently and excel in my field.

Apply. Apply. Apply!

I will be promoted and lead from the front.

So, I don’t need to look behind me.

I don’t want to see those who are stuck and unable to climb.

For they remind me of who I was.

Who I am. Who I want to forget.

That person, looking through the glass ceiling, disheartened and exhausted.

Has no place here in this place.  My space?

Is it really?

© Dr Marcia Thomas

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