Featuring Dr. K E Garland

It took little time for me to understand why there was one African American science teacher, one African American middle-school teacher, one African American math teacher, and me, the Black English teacher. Apparently, this school district was slow to desegregate under Brown v Board of Education

About Dr. K E

Dr. K E Garland is native to the West Side of Chicago but has lived in Jacksonville, Florida, for the past twenty years. Her professional background is based in education. She holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Florida, an M.A.T. in English from Jacksonville University and a B.A. in English education from Western Michigan University. Personally, she aims to motivate through writing. For example, her self-published book, Kwoted, includes original and motivational quotes. Her creative nonfiction has also appeared in For Harriet. She can be followed on Twitter @kwotedkegarland and on Wordpress at https://kwoted.wordpress.com.

We had a chance to interview author K E Garland whose essay "You're Hired!" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned...

What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?

Initially, I wrote You’re Hired out of frustration with Southern American hiring practices. I couldn’t believe that I’d been hired not once, but twice in Affirmative Action positions, even though I hold a terminal degree and have a plethora of experience. Eventually, I saw that writing about my experiences was a way to raise my voice about such issues. There are a lot of arguments on either side promoting or denigrating Affirmative Action. I thought sharing my experience would personalize what it feels like for race to overshadow accomplishments such as passion, degrees, and publications.

What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the twenty-first century?

The challenge is always having white privilege thrown in my face. While it’s easy to read about and discuss these concepts in a classroom with students or other professors, it’s quite different to frequently find that there’s an unqualified white man, who didn’t have to work even half as hard as I did to arrive at the same destination. Many times, the men to whom I’m referring don’t even know how to do the job and end up asking me for help. This has happened at least three times in my professional career.

Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.

Nowadays, it seems that women have mobilized and are organized to raise their voices about issues their ancestors have had to endure for centuries. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement began with three women who were outraged about the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case. Their voices have become more than a hashtag; through activism, each has raised awareness for police brutality specifically towards African Americans. Likewise, I’ve noticed women are not simply quieting their voices about sexual violations. As I write this, Harvey Weinstein is undergoing investigation and women are using #MeToo to demonstrate how many of us have endured sexual abuse. Today, the social justice movement doesn’t just belong to a few key women; it belongs to women everywhere.

What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color? 

I’m not quite sure how to answer this question. Over the past decade, I’ve tried to avoid overt leadership roles. I consider myself someone who works behind the scenes of all worthy societal causes, sometimes creating them myself. For example, I recently encouraged people to donate diapers for Family Support Services of North Florida. Through this diaper drive, I collected and delivered over two thousand diapers to the organization. Self-governing projects such as this exemplify how I currently lead. Also, I choose to lead through writing that exposes the types of challenges women face in today’s society. My latest independent book, The Unhappy Wife represents the type of literature I’ve written to raise consciousness about women’s challenges.

What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?

I hope that a collection of varied experiences will open readers’ eyes to the reality of how others live, cope and survive within the systematic oppression of race and gender that America created and continues to perpetuate to this day.