Circling the Wagons

I am a woman of color, full professor, so I don’t know if this had more to do with being a woman or not being white.

I was invited to give a paper at a conference.  The panel was made up of all white males, except for myself.  I gave the paper and it went very, very well.  The paper was very well attended and the audience was excited about my work.  Later on many graduate students, several from Ivy League programs, came to speak with me; they were very exited about my work.  The other men (Professors) on the panel were very uncomfortable with this, somehow drew these graduate students away from me and towards them, and made a circle from which I was completely excluded.  They were letting them know that it was definitely not ok to talk to the brown woman.  Later on I received an e-mail from one of the white men panel participants, which was sent out to everyone.  It noted just how wonderful everyone’s paper was, except mine.  It noted that mine was a disgrace.  

I was mortified, and since then I have not attended another conference.  No one came to my defense.  The person who put the conference together asked me if I had a response, that was all.  As I hate to send out mass e-mails and clutter people’s inboxes, I really did not want to do so, but I reluctantly sent out a defense that was as professional as possible, sticking only to the philosophical issues at hand.  I’d like to say that this was the only time something like this has happened at conferences, but unfortunately I cannot.  Bad things like this have happened before, but I am just getting older and more tired.  What is the point, if this is what to expect?  (The paper, by the way, was accepted for publication at the most prestigious journal in this area.)

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