As some of you may already know, I recently launched my web-series, “Tales from the Kraka Tower” which satirizes diversity in higher education. I released my first episode earlier in March and it has been received well so far. The show follows my character Lakisha Wisniewski, a vegan biracial woman, as she begins her journey in the Diversity graduate department at Kraka University. In the first episode, Lakisha meets her temporary adviser, Dr. Akintola who basically tells her that as a black person, she should “just be a bag of black skin.”
My show satirizes the ways in which diversity operates in higher education. All too often, we want to shove brown bodies and disabled bodies into classrooms so that it looks diverse, but we don’t follow up and find out what the conditions are like for those bodies in these predominantly white, able-bodied departments. Our experiences are often silenced and pushed aside so that a forced, sanitized, post-racial narrative about diversity can be advertised.
An image with Lakisha [me] and Sam [played by Kyle Romano] in the elevator during ep. 1
The show has already been featured on Slate magazine, Ebony.com, and Clutch magazine which has been extremely exciting and surprising. I have to note that NO ONE IN THE CAST IS A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR: WE ARE ALL GRADUATE STUDENTS. Every person in the video takes classes, teaches, and is super broke. We have no budget because we have no money so if you’re expecting Hollywood quality, then this isn’t it. [We hope to make a kickstarter soon!]. This is merely a grassroots series of videos that detail some of my experiences, as well as some of my friends’ experiences, with the exclusionary politics of academia.
Dr. Kimball [the major professor of Kraka University] feeling Lakisha’s hair/CC BY
I have already received many messages of support from academics who love the show and who can relate to some of Lakisha’s experiences. Though many of the depictions are exaggerated [because remember folks, this is a satire!], they are all based on real events. I detail some of my experiences in several interviews.
Rebecca Schumann, a writer for Slate magazine states:
Kocieda—who just defended her MA in communication with a thesis about race, gender, and the “Slutwalk” phenomenon—worked with no budget and cast her grad-student friends in the series, which she created to stimulate discussion about exclusion in academia, an industry we often think of—erroneously—as a “politically correct” fortress of progressivism. Instead, Kocieda explains, many academics—such as scholars of color, or scholars with disabilities—discover that “the academy disciplines you in a way where you can be political as long as you stay within the lines,” lines created by a mainstream that is often far from inclusive.
Episode 1 tracks Lakisha’s first few days at Kraka University where she meets several characters who make her question her decision about coming to the school, and episode 2 follows Lakisha as she takes her first PhD class in diversity. Trust me, it is definitely worth the watch.
Dr. Kimball attempting to give Lakisha [a vegan] some chicken in episode 2/CC BY
Please check out the show and if you like it, share it widely. There’s also a facebook page for the show. Episode 3 will be out soon.
I think it’s important that we support artistic and creative works done by young women of color who are actively engaging with critiques of patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, and other exclusionary systems of domination.