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"She Didn't Look Like the Professors I Thought I Would See"

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"She Didn't Look Like the Professors I Thought I Would See"

Sep 10, 2020

The way someone looks can impact our views of them—but it shouldn't. Someone's words and actions are the things that should matter. In this mentor moment, Harjit remembers a brief but impactful moment that helped her reflect on her own way of viewing the world.

Episode Transcript

So it was my last semester of college and I really wanted to take this Remixing Hip-Hop and Feminism course. It's the first day of class, so I walk in and I'm basically watching our classmates come in one after another and I notice that there are a lot of students there. And 10 minutes past our start time and our professor wasn't there, and I was thinking, "Oh, did the professor not show up? Am I in the wrong room? I wonder if I should go to a different place and see if they're there."

We then notice someone in the middle of the room speak up. She is this petite woman who is wearing mostly black. I think she had black jeans on and a black hoodie on. She had hoop earrings and bright red hair. She started talking and basically was like, "Okay, let's all introduce ourselves. Hi, my name's Cindy Wynn, your professor for Remixing Hip-Hop and Feminism." And I was so surprised.

I had noticed this woman when I first walked into the room, and she looked like any other student. And in that moment, I realized that I have a certain view of what a professor should look like and what professionalism is as a whole. She didn't look like the professors that I thought I would see.

I think what she did that day was very intentional, but it was also very necessary. I learned the lesson that the way she looked impacted my view on her. The way one looks impacts our view on them, but it should not. What they do and what they say and the actions that they have are things that matter.

Since that day, I'm always reminded that we should understand that our views of people impact the way we kind of function in the world. And basically, we are socialized to see certain people look a certain way and do certain things, but in reality, it is about the actions that they have.

Now, whenever I'm in any room, I am reminded that every person, although they might be dressed a certain way or look a certain way, might have something very important to say. And I also give myself that grace. So if I miss wearing a suit to an interview, it doesn't mean that I can't be a good candidate.

A lot of times when we learn something or get mentored from a moment, it can come out of the blue. This moment with Cindy was not a defined moment. I didn't say, "Hey, Cindy, this is you mentoring me." Rather, it is these moments that shape the way we view the world. That is when I know that our actions can influence others and provide mentorship, to know that I am impacting other lives and I should be aware of that.