Wednesday, April 13, 2005

fecundmellow presents: summer m.'s community outreach program, 'helping make the world a better place'

this, dear friends, is a periodic blog where i list rules of conduct that will help certain things in life run a bit more smoothly. today, i present,

'how to act at an academic conference and not piss me off-- or others for that matter'

for the givers...
  • recognize your own bullshit. seriously, you're an academic, and nobody really gives a fuck about what you're saying. no one read your book accept maybe your mama (she lied and said she read it), the students you assigned the book to in your 'intro to whatever' class (they skimmed the intro), some over-zealous grad students (they ain't understand that shit), and maybe a few other folks who thought your shit my help them talk about their shit--otherwise known as other profs in your discipline. further, does your theory on the color blue in the 20th century american novel mean anything to anybody? no. stop pretending like the answers to all the world's problems are in your book. thus, do not answer a question with, 'well in my book...'. it will not end world hunger; it will not bring about world peace. quit acting like it will.
  • warn us. this is a continuation of the above. generally, it just cracks me up how academics take their bullshit so seriously. being an academic is prolly the most narcissistic vocation ever. therefore, i'd like professors, intellectuals, etc. to say the following before giving their papers or intellectual rambling, 'excuse me for the next 10-15 minutes while i masturbate in front of you.' really, it's simply intellectual masturbation that you're doing in front of us. and frankly, it seems to me that we (the audience) are simply voyeurs hoping we might get off, too.
  • stick to your time. it is generally understood that 10-15 minutes is the standard time for a conference presentation. this means that you will read a 10-page paper. this does not give you time to thank all the departments and offices that brought you here, or to give shoutouts to your undergrad sociology prof in the audience. it also does not give you time--unless it's part of the aforementioned paper--to tell a personal anecdote that only you find funny. which brings me to my next point...
  • use your time wisely. when they say ten minutes, they mean ten minutes. when they say your time is up, that doesn't mean tell us you're about to skip to your 2-page conclusion after you give us a snapshot of what else was in the paper. it means say thank you and sit your black ass down. maybe if you quit giving props or telling us about your trip to europe, you'da finished reading your bullshit-ass conference paper.
  • remember the conference theme. for example, if the conference is on feminism and hip hop, your topic should fit under the umbrella of feminism and hip hop. this really shouldn't be hard, given how large and often vague the themes of so many conferences are. basically, you have to work really hard to not have your shit under the given topics. by the way, make sure you have something to say. don't think your fame as a superstar professor allows you to show slides of your family and talk about yourself in the third person. remember, you're an academic superstar. that's like being captain of your chess team.
  • answer the question. which presupposes you listened to the question. granted, some people ask stupid, often non-sensical shit (which i'll get to later), but you should really try to speak directly to what the inquirer asked, and not go off on your own shit, or the shit you ain't get to in your allotted 15 minutes. it's like this: the audience was kind enough to watch you masturbate, but some folks need a lil extra help sometimes, ok? be considerate.
for the takers...
  • ask a question and then sit yo' ass down. there is no need for you to thank the panel for showing up, and the folks behind the scenes for putting together the conference. recall, these people looooove to hear themselves talk. why thank them for feeding their own egos? that's just silly. more specifically, you need to be working under the 20 second rule. there is no need to set up context for your question. the conference has a context and the panel has an even more specific one. if you need to set your shit up either a) you ain't asking the right question, b) it may be the right question but the wrong panel, or c) you don't what the hell you're talking about; more often than not, it's the latter. your shit needs to be specific and concise. you are also not allowed to make comments. remember this is a question and answer panel. while on it...
  • it ain't about you. there is no need to set up your question with a run-down of your c.v. no one gives a shit about what program you're in, how far along you are, what your project is, or that you made a robot that picked up paper clips for your 4th grade science fair. if they gave a shit, they would have asked you to be on the panel, and you would have told about your science fair project as a 'funny' anecdote to preface your paper.
  • don't work out your shit. no one wants to hear your tragic moolatte story. not black enough for the black kids, not white enough for the white kids. yeah yeah yeah. save it for behind the music or intimate portrait or your therapist. the academy is not a space for you to get all emotional. that's why it's the academy. we all know that black folks in the academy are grappling with their 'authentic blackness' and whatnot. that's why they always bringing up poverty and where they grew up and shit. african american studies departments were not created for poor nigs. it was created so middle class nigs could work out their issues. that's why they get all nuts when activists get in the house. three words: knee. jerk. reactions. it's ok, folks, we won't make you turn in your authentically black cards just yet.
  • don't beef with the panel. look man, it's cool to disagree, but there's a respectful manner in which to do so. for those of you who weren't there, this chick basically called melyssa ford a ho to her face during the hip hop and feminism conference last weekend. now she might be a ho, iono, but that ain't right, yo. the halls of the academy are not the space in which to start beef. got beef? make a dis record. speaking of melyssa ford: that ass!!!! (and according to her bio, she's a scorpio. melyssa, holla at me girl, i'm a pisces!!!)

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison


Blogger Stephanie said...

Hey, we have an ongoing hip hop conference this week. At yours, did you have young white folks like (member our favorite Nella like character class mate)asking how come they weren't being taken seriously? We had a whole line of those.

Mark Anthony Neal of Duke U. said that he wants to change the question from authenticity to sincerity. Yep that was me in the back rolling my eyes, sighing, and saying "what the..." Me personally, I know I'm in the academy playin' catch me if you can. When they ask, "are you black?" I say, "do you want me to be?" :)

14/4/05 04:28  
Blogger Stephanie said...

And you KNOW scorpios are into serial monogamy no matter how much they front! And you KNOW pisces aren't till much much later in life, if ever.

14/4/05 04:31  
Blogger summer m. said...

i didn't know that, steph. i wonder if i can use that as a reason to women if they ever decide to date me ('you know, baby, well, since i'm a pisces i can't fuck with monogamy until i'm like 50...)

i need you to tell me about my zodiac. i'm all curious now.

14/4/05 06:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you had given this post as a presentation at the conference this weekend, it would have been the most concise, solid, and sensible thing presented. I swear, those beyotches (and yes, I am saying this about the participants in the FEMINISM conference) were really on it this weekend. With the exception of Joan Morgan, Rockafella, and Kim Osorio. And Jessica Care Moore, with her ghetto ass.

14/4/05 09:43  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Send me your info again and I promise to send some stuff back to you.. do you want a public announcement? I'm having a difficult time believing that passionate pisces is merely the chicken of the sea. :)

14/4/05 10:29  
Blogger PonderingNegro said...

Read us til we want no more!

14/4/05 14:38  
Blogger MB said...

Intellectual masterbation. . . Dr. Guy-Sheftall has said that too. You are on your way to your own "whorification" comment.

14/4/05 16:23  
Blogger btrfly_locs said...

Ohhhh damn, I wish I would have gone up to Chicago for the conference!

Intellectual masterbation... Oh so true!!! At some point, you want to say to the person, "Wow, you must REALLY believe your own hype!!"

14/4/05 16:42  
Blogger sattva said...

a whole lotta people would benefit from this list for real... i could only take a year of that mess :/

16/4/05 10:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a little late, but this is fucking brilliant. That conference was inspiring on so many levels, but now I know I never want to go to grad school. Ever.


18/4/05 09:02  
Blogger Jdid said...

good post. nice points about the question askers and the persons answering. I find some of the questions i've heard asked are so dumb at these things that i can only conclude that the person just wants to hear what their voice sounds like. And then the answers are so roundabout that its like the panel member decided to use the old baffle them with b.s method. "Well maybe if I throw in an anecdote and rephrase their question taking out the valid parts they will actually forget what they asked in the first place and this will all be over"

18/4/05 13:28  

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