by Leslye Joy Allen
“Self Portrait” by Copyright © 2015 Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2015 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
I lost a lot and gained a lot in the year 2015. When this happens you reassess what makes sense in your life, and what you need to let go of. So, with that said…
I lost my dissertation advisor Dr. Clifford M. Kuhn, who died of a massive heart attack in November 2015. Yet, I learned that I had the support of the wonderful faculty of the History Department at Georgia State University; and I thank them all. I had to agree to stop teaching for at least a couple of semesters in order to fulfill the requirements of a dissertation fellowship, but that is okay—I won that dissertation fellowship.
I had the love and support of supremely talented actor Margo Moorer—one of many members of my extensive theatre family—who ensured that I witnessed the phenomenal stage play “Uprising.” Margo and that cast were superb in this great play and she generously pressed some money in my hand when I was dead broke. I should also acknowledge that Margo was one of the first members of Atlanta’s theatre community to show up when my Mama passed in 2013. Her fellow actor and co-star LaParee Young said it best, “Margo will be there for you.” LaParee was damn right. THANK YOU MARGO! She also insisted that I meet the author of “Uprising” Gabrielle Fulton, who is a brilliant playwright whose literary and artistic maturity are far beyond her years.
As an only child, I naturally have “adopted” brothers and sisters. I could not let this year go by without thanking my long-time “adopted” brother (and fellow only child) Marc Freeman for covering me, praying for me, and for letting me hear some amazing music that no one else has heard. He is an amazing composer and producer. We have been friends for fifty years and counting. I must thank Wafa who is my “sister from another mother,” and who has covered my behind more times than I can count. I also have to thank my cousins Saundi, Yolanda (Yandi), Lorena, and Cynthia for reminding me that I am loved and for showing up to make sure that I knew it. My cousin Saundi lost her Mom (my Aunt Sara) this year, but I have one of her angel ornaments to remind me of her. I thank Claude and Don, my “adopted” brothers and favorite couple for always making me laugh and for reminding me that only children often inherit loving siblings late in life.
I thank Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado—the Historian in Heels—for “talking me back from the ledge” so to speak, as she understood/understands the stress and frustration that comes with being a doctoral candidate; and I must give a special shout to the GSU History Department’s Business Manager Paula Sorrell for getting all that paperwork handled so that I could get paid on time; and I also must thank Paula for always remaining cool when she is dealing with crazy Ph.D. candidates like myself.
I thank all of my former students who are too numerous to mention by name. They remind me that the future is in good hands. I also thank the young men and women who have chosen me as their mentor. It is an honor to be chosen by such wonderful young people from everywhere around the United States, and from as far away as Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Antigua, and Québec. All of my students, protégés and protégées will change the world.
This year I participated as a historical consultant in the directorial debut of Keith Arthur Bolden, a brilliant actor and artistic director of the phenomenal Spriggs Burroughs Ensemble of Spelman College. I thank Keith for inviting me along on his very special journey. Okay, I give up! Margo, Keith and several other performance artists have called me a dramaturge, and I am finally accepting the label.
I must give super props to my adopted “Baby Sister,” the phenomenally talented actor Nevaina Rhodes (pronounced “Nih-Von-Yah”), who is also a drama coach and founder of Real Actors Workshop (RAW). She also remains the only person I can honestly call a bona fide prayer warrior. Her midday prayers at 12:00 Noon every weekday are a revelation. I know of no one who prays with as much intensity or belief or talent…and she and I have also laughed at some supreme silliness—that is always a blessing!
I met and befriended talented young Black male doctoral scholars like Jerquil “JC” Campbell and Malcom Devoe (his Malcom does not have that second “L”), and talented young doctoral scholars like Jessica Ramadhin, Cinnamon Mittan, and Corrianne Bazemore-James. Cori was my roommate during “The Compact for Faculty Diversity: Institute on Teaching and Mentoring Conference” for SREB Doctoral Scholars held in Washington, DC. Meeting these young dedicated scholars of color is/was always a blessing and inspiration…
I recognize and embrace the fact that I am a fierce and brilliant intellectual who owes so much to so many scholars and artists who invested their time and energy in my intellect and abilities. I am also the daughter of two now-deceased parents who knew that my purpose and destination would exceed the limits of their lifetimes. Therefore, some changes for 2016 are in order so that I might fulfill my ancestral legacy and complete my sacred God-ordained mission.
I am saying, “Sayonara,” “Adios,” “O da abọ,” “Kwaheri,” “Au Revoir” and “Goodbye” to that small group of men who narrowly envision me (and women in general) as someone designated to sit and listen to their plans, their projects, and their problems. If any of these men are reading this and need some kind of advice, I suggest that they call a counselor or their Mamas, but they need not call me. Too many of these same men who dialed my phone for all kinds of help and assistance have also routinely compensated other men for doing what they expected me to do free of charge…Therefore…
I will no longer vet projects and/or consult and/or render my academic expertise without some form of compensation. The wonderful people that I have individually thanked above in this blog deserve me as one who operates at full capacity for myself and for them. Mess over or mistreat or mishandle any one of these phenomenal people and I will take it as a personal insult. I have only one thing, however, to say to those men who think I am some kind of built-in, automatic, academic workhorse meant for their personal use: Delete my phone number until you recognize my value and until you can pay me what I am worth; and we need not speak unless I consider my association with you to be a plus rather than a liability. And please understand that all of the people I care about know who you are, so do not bother calling them either!
To all those friends and colleagues who have encouraged me in some way this year: You are too numerous to name in a single blog, and I am sure I have forgotten someone, but charge it to my head and not my heart. Please know that I appreciate every one of you. Happy New Year! Àṣé!
Copyright © 2015 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
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