As I write this essay, I’m thinking about Shanice*, a Black woman who joined my course at Cal State University East Bay several years ago.

On the last day of class, Shanice handed me a note. The note said, “I didn’t feel encouraged in this class.”

My first reaction was a defensive one. What is she talking about! I thought to myself. I didn’t intentionally treat Shanice differently than any other student.
That note stung. I put it away for a time and held onto my defensiveness.

But eventually, I picked it up again, looked at it, and thought to myself, what is the truth that this note is holding?