Dr. Renee Hudson, assistant professor of English in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, recently accepted an invitation to attend the Faculty of Color Working Group (FoCWG) 2022 Symposium.

The two-day virtual symposium focused on the theme “Renewal,” building community among faculty of color as they shared creative ideas, solutions, and strategies.

The Voice of Wilkinson sat down with Hudson to discuss her experience further.

Voice of Wilkinson: What does the theme “Renewal” mean to you?

Dr. Renee Hudson: For me, renewal is a refresh, an opportunity to step out of the day-to-day and focus on my body and spirit. More importantly, it means renewing my commitment to implementing systemic change and social justice so that students, faculty, and staff of color can build and imagine a university that is by us and for us.

VoW: Which workshop impacted you the most? 

RH: ​This is a tough one! Dr. Christina Sharpe’s talk powerfully spoke to how we cannot let the language of renewal be co-opted in the same way that self-care has been co-opted and appropriated to mean getting a massage or a pedicure rather than the act of resistance Audre Lorde discusses. She called on us to remember how self-care for Lorde is an act of political warfare, which simply cannot happen at a spa. Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans echoed Sharpe’s comments by elaborating on the wellness methods Black women have used historically to not only stay in the struggle, but lead the fight.

VoW: Were you able to connect with other faculty of color in attendance?

RH: ​I was able to reconnect with Dr. Irene Mata, who is a professor at Wellesley College. We met when I was at UMass Boston and she’s someone I admire deeply. Her first question to me was, ‘Are you happy?’ and it was wonderful to be reminded there are people out there invested in my well-being, not just my academic success (and the answer is yes).

VoW: How do you plan to implement what you learned in your professional career and personal life?

RH: ​Melody C. Barnes talked about how to use the university’s resources to support the local community, so I’m going to think about how to implement similar work at Chapman.

VoW: Overall, how would you describe your experience during the FoCWG 2022 Symposium? 

RH: It was a wonderful way to end the semester! During the semester, I’m focused on helping and supporting my students to make sure they can succeed. It was a nice way to shift to the summer and how I can center my own needs – always, of course, in the service of helping others. As faculty of color all know, you have to constantly lift as you climb and sometimes we have to take a break so we can continue to lift.