Family, Sugar Beets, And The Academic Industrial Complex

For half of my life, I have been an academic migrant, and for the last seven years, my home has been in the Midwest. During this time, I have relied on my friends to give me a sense of community, culture, and history. I had the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving break with my Michigan family. They took me on a road trip to visit their families in Flint and Caro. Both of them grew up in the thumb of Michigan.

They gave me a very short tour of Caro, especially a stop at the sugar beet factory. The Michigan Sugar Company is connected to the American Beet Sugar Company in Oxnard, California. Both opened in 1899, and they were both built by the Oxnard Construction Company. Maybe one day, I will write a public history on sugar beets industry, betabeleros, and the formation of community in the Midwest. But, it has to be after I finish all of the other projects in my head!

As I re-examine the formation of the community for my manuscript, I reflect on how we build community within the academic industrial complex. And I believe that the majority of us (faculty of color) develop a sense of community by focusing our scholarship and teaching on how to empower our community and students.

But, within the academic industrial complex, I have read, heard, and seen how students, faculty, and administrators disrespect our (faculty of color) sense of community. To empower our community and students, we must challenge white supremacy and white privilege. But, we face students, faculty, and administrators, who refuse to deal with their privilege but, instead they question our fields and credentials!

In the end, no matter the outcome, I understand the importance of empowering our community! Time is now to EDUCATE! And to ORGANIZE!