February 10, 2022

My Story, My Voice: Yolanda Brown-Spidell, Sociology Professor

Black History Month

Yolanda Brown-Spidell, Sociology Professor

Yolanda Brown-Spidell is a recent hire at Schoolcraft College in the department of sociology (2021). She is an educator with over 20 years of teaching and educational leadership in both Detroit and metro Detroit.

To help celebrate Black History Month, we’re pleased to share “My Story, My Voice,” a series of essays written by Schoolcraft College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Please go to schoolcraft.edu/BHM to read the complete collection.

Yolanda Brown-Spidell

By Yolanda Brown-Spidell, Sociology Professor

How does a little Black girl who grew up in Detroit and did not get serious about school until she was a 29-year-old unhappily married mother of two who returned to school at a community college in San Diego end up teaching sociology in Livonia, which is historically known as a sundown town? Only in America.

How does a divorced mother of five find herself as caregiver to both her mother and her father until they died and she had the honor of eulogizing them both? Only by the grace of God.

How does a girl who was raised by two Black parents that graduated from a “colored” high school in Mobile, Alabama, be the mother of a daughter who is on the cusp of graduating from Harvard? Only in America and by the grace of God.

I am my ancestors’ dream, but there are days when the dream can feel like a nightmare. As a sociologist, I have the language and the cultural awareness to acknowledge, understand and interpret what it means to be “Black in America.” I am acutely aware of my minority status in a majority reality. I wear my badge of “Professor Yolanda” with an interesting mixture of pride, humility, and fear. Pride, because this is a personal life goal that has been achieved. Humble, because I recognize that I don’t stand in this space on my own. I stand here because of the blood, tears and lives that were given for me to have the right to acquire the education that gave me the key to unlock this door. Fearful, because the message I teach will be as vinegar to the soul of some and honey to the soul of others.

So I stand as professor, but the little Black girl from Detroit is always present with me.

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