After my successful dissertation defense, I laid up in my apartment and recovered from graduate school by watching Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. I absolutely love it. It is, naturally, a formulaic show with a cast of characters who make a series of seemingly destructive decisions.
I keep waiting for VH1 to develop a reality show about blackademics. Right before my defense, I sorted through my journals and rifled through 8 years of drama. Trust and believe I was not writing to God about postmodernism. Page after page, it was full of dating mishaps, trifling men, friendships that went sideways.
The ivory tower attempts to rub away the rough edges of blackademics but it never quite succeeds. Instead, (if my friends and I are any indication) it churns out sophistiratchet people with larger than normal vocabularies. We become fluent in two languages: we can throw shade in academic lingo just as easily as we can in regular English.
My graduate school encounters were not that different from those on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. As I watched Momma Dee interfere in her son’s relationships, I thought of the two mama’s boys I dated. When Karlie Redd kicked the realtor Yung Joc was messing with, I thought about a yelling match I had with an ex’s new girlfriend–in my department building, no less. When Scrappy and Erica had issues, I thought about fights I had in the middle of the street with trifling men who broke one too many promises.
We all have drama. We all have had public fights, cursed somebody out, thrown objects, have had too-public displays of affection. Love and Hip Hop Atlanta reminds us of the depths of our emotions, the ability we have to be unrestrained in our expression, and the consequences of violent actions.
The dangerous thing about academia–or at least my academic experience–is that it attempts to rub out that passion, those instincts. And as a writer, I need to have access to a full range of emotions, even if I choose not to express them by throwing a candle at a woman who gets on my nerves.
Underneath it all, I’m ratchet. And so are you.