Upon Becoming a Post-Graduate Negro


Hello to all you members of the Uppity Negro Network!!

I’d like to invite the Network on a journey into the trials and tribulations of a third-year grad student who’s at his wits ends about graduating.

Honestly, if anyone who reads this has some heads up on some opportunities PLEASE, OH PLEASE feel free to drop a note in the comment box, or if its confidential just send me an email at uppitynegronetwork at gmail.com and I’ll be more than happy to capitalize on said opportunity.

So, last Friday I went to talk to one of my professors about what my post-graduate plans are and this is what I know and learned:

1.  I will have to do another masters degree.  RIGHT!  Great big UGH!  I kind of got over the idea of being a black man with a Ph.D. before my 30th birthday sometime back in January when my Greek professor gave me a D+ after not giving back ONE single, solitary homework assignment or quiz.  But, that aside, most Ph.D. programs in my field aren’t accepting students with just a Masters of Divinity, which means that most are now obtaining what’s known as the Masters of Theology or an M.Th. degree.  It’s a degree that prepares one for the concentrated work of a doctorate program, and acts as a better bellwether over the M.Div. as to whether an individual is capable of doing doctorate work and subsequent research.

So, right now, I’m looking into M.Th. programs

But, here’s where I’m asking for help from the Network.

With my average daily readership, I’m sure that there’s someone out there who can help with this:

Schools look for “stand out people” for their doctorate problems.  Just like the kid in the movie “21” with Kevin Spacey, he was able to tell a story and he got the scholarship.  There’s nothing that pops about having a 4.0 GPA anymore these days, or having high GRE scores, those are just a given, but what about the individual stands out.  Now, the M.Th. program is nice, but my professor recommended me to look into graduate programs that focused on rhetoric.  So, of course in the communication field, but specifically a degree in rhetoric.

Well why rhetoric Mr. Uppity Negro?

7744_african_american_businessman_giving_a_speech_at_a_podium1My current concentration is homiletics and worship, so of course when I get to the doctorate level much of what I’d be researching would be heavily tied into the art and the study of communication, speech and rhetoric.  Actually, now that I think about it, that’s probably one of my wheelhouses because I took an AP English Language class in high school and killed the course with an A because our weekly essays and in-class essays were all about the rhetorical devices used in the sample writings to get the writer’s point across.

So if anyone has a heads up on English or Communication departments at various schools that offer Master’s degrees in the field of rhetoric specifically, perhaps communication and speech secondarily, please let me know, because the Google searches I did were a hot mess.

2.  I need to start a bibliography.  For any Ph.D.’s out there or those who have entered the process, what various tips would you have as to how you went about this process because this one seemed a bit overwhelming to me because I already have a stack of books on my desk that are required reading, and right now my summer reading list is at about 10 books.  My prof recommended that I read as much as possible and keep a summary list of each book I’ve read about a page and half long just for my own file’s sake so that when the time comes I don’t end up looking like a dumb Negro.

3.  I need to take a class over Emory because their professors have better traction in the field as opposed to him, because he’s a Hebrew Bible scholar, not a homiletician per se.

Well, I looked at the fall schedule, and there’s one class that’s not an Intro class being taught Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2:20 and I KNOW out of those two days I’m going to have to be taking a class here at my own school, so just pray that that works out for me.

4.  I need to take my modern day language of either French or German.  Now he said this needs to be just a reading class, meaning I don’t have to learn to speak it nor listen to it. 

Well isn’t that nice.

PROBLEM NUMBER ONE with that is I’m supposed to be taking Hebrew next year (and hopefully that goes better than Greek did for me this past year) and just the idea of taking two languages, even though I’m quite familiar with French, is a bit much for me.  And I know a few programs, Princeton Theological Seminary for one, offers French or German during the summer prior to you beginning your comp classes in the Fall.  And my prof has been adamant about taking the languages early.  So I guess it’s up to me to inquire over at Clark-Atlanta to see what possibilities of cross-registering?


I can’t take those two at the same time, I’m just going to have to suck it up and take it in one of those summer joints, because I’m about to kill myself.

5.  Have you thought about pastoring?  I literally tremble at the thought of pastoring.  As if all of the aforementioned points weren’t burdensome enough, I was willing to attempt to try, and give it my best, but dammit, I fell apart when he mentioned pastoring.  I went into my story about how I felt my church had kind of left me, especially as a young cat, out on the lam to fend for myself without any hands-on direction.  Apparently my church has the attitude that they only help those who know how to ask for help rather than helping those that need help, but don’t know how to ask for it  <—– LIKE ME!!

So, my current dilemma is that I play for a church at their 11 o’clock service and of course just like most churches in America, their main service is either between 9:30 or 12 noon when they start.  

Well, what’s the big deal, just leave that church and go to another one, one may ask.

hammond-organHA!  I wish it were that simple.  On this part, the white church denominations have this part right:  the process of becoming a pastor or being on a church staff is much more heavily based on what you know.  It’s merit based.  It’s generally an open process that follows some sort of…well….process!  That is NOT the case with many black churches in black denominations, it’s heavily based on who you know–and if you can preach.  And even then, these bastards don’t want to pay you.  They love getting free stuff out of young people like me.  A free musician here, a free youth pastor there….it’s a mess.

So if I were to be hired by you typical black Baptist church here in Atlanta there stands a very good chance that I wouldn’t get paid for it.  To be an associate or an assistant pastor does NOT mean a stipend and a salary, HA, that’s not going to happen.  Those cases only occur at the big name churches where the associates may actually get a stipend or be salaried to some extent.  And then these black Baptist preachers are such a mess, they’ll smile in your face and tell you what you want to hear and meanwhile shit on you in the back room and not think twice about not hiring you.

Why couldn’t they just say no in your face rather than string you along for a whole school year?

Ooops….sorry, am I venting?

All that said, the catch 22 for me is that my means of income is tied to my playing at my current church at an 11:00 service.  So, for any of my Atlanta members of the Uppity Negro Network, if you know of a church that wouldn’t mind having me on to kind of walk side-by-side with the pastor and just learn the lay of the land of what it means to be a pastor, send me an email and let me know what’s the deal and maybe I can hook up with you.  Not to mention I also play the organ and piano.

But then my professor said that he had a bible study group that was looking possibly “to go to the next level.”

HA!  Could you imagine me as part of a start-up church team?!?!?

Well, Sarah laughed at God when she was supposed to get pregnant.

6.  Oh yeah…I still haven’t taken the GRE yet.

  • ********************************

And all of this that I really need to get started on now (these aren’t issues that can be done overnight) combined with the fact that I’m still in school until May.  That means I still have final research papers (still ain’t made it to the library yet), and final exams that need to be studied for and taken, and ultimately passed the best way I know how.

I need another job because this check, while I’m MORE than thankful for it, and it covers my expenses from week to week, I have ZERO cushion in case something happens that needs to be paid for, and I’m a bit tired of having to watch my money so tightly, I understand that budgeting is part of life and blah blah blah….I know that, but just the simple fact that having another gig would give me a bit more independence if you know what I mean.

So, yeah, this uppity Negro is hustling for a job.

Again, if any of my Atlanta readers know of some job openings you think that I would be interested in, or jobs that can work around my fool crazy FULL TIME school schedule, let me know and drop me an email at uppitynegronetwork at gmail.com and I’ll be more than happy to do what I need to do.

And it’s almost 2 o’clock in the morning as I write this.

UGH!  Pray I make it y’all.

Seriously, I’m kinda begging for some feedback on this one y’all.  You know I try not to be a comment hog on this site, but on this one I’d CHERISH some feedback because I feel I’m about to hit burnout–seven years of straight schooling and staring down the barrel of possible another 5-7 years isn’t exactly a happy prospect.  I swear ‘fore Jesus Christ, if and when I finish my Ph.D., I’m going to a desert isle, and burn my cell phone and just go into hiding for about a month and just vacation my ass off! LOL  But seriously, any Ph.D. tips, church ministry leads and/or job leads, I’d really appreciate you’re comments or emails.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

10 thoughts on “Upon Becoming a Post-Graduate Negro

  1. I STRONGLY recommend you pursuing an advanced degree in rhetoric. I wonder if you have any interest in science? Perhaps in the intersection between scientific/technical advances and theology? There are differences between rhetoric programs housed in English departments and those housed in science department–the difference being that, IMO, there are more opportunities for folks coming out of the science departments. With your writing skills, you’d be a natural for intelligent writing about this very important interface that will become even more important in years to come.

    Full disclosure–none of my advanced degrees are in rhetoric. But looking back, I wish I would have more seriously considered that option when it was presented to me.

    Please feel free to drop me a line if you’re interested in my following up on these points.

    Best of luck!

    1. @ppscribe

      Nope, my concentration isn’t in science. Not even remotely interested in it, lol. But thanks for the advice.

  2. In my armchair assessment I think you would have more luck searching for a degree in Communications or English with an emphasis or concentration on Rhetoric (religious or other). Rhetoric really isn’t a discipline as much as research area under or in conjunction with the discipline of English/communication these days.

    Anyhow, Northwestern University has a great program http://www.communication.northwestern.edu/programs/ma_phd_performance_studies/main.php that’s centered on performance studies which might be an interesting angle to approach the study of religious rhetoric.

    But what’s probably most beneficial is the website http://www.somethingrhetorical.com/canon5/academic.htm which lists just about all the decent graduate programs in rhetoric in the country. I hope this helps. Best of luck, we need more true and dedicated scholars in the field of homiletics and preaching.

  3. Here’s a website with most of the credible places to do graduate work in communications/rhetoric.

    Also, Northwestern has a good program in their communications dept. in performance studies that is well respected as well.

    I hope this helps.

  4. You really need to get in touch with Rev. Dr. Charles Gilmer in Fl. Pres. of The Impact Movement google their website.

  5. I’m a PhD candidate in English, and when I think “strong Rhetoric program” the first programs that come to mind are: definitely Penn State, and maybe Pittsburgh. My own department is very strong in Rhet/Comp, too, (though for some strange reason we are not on that list?) but I think we lean more towards composition than pure rhetoric.

  6. @miss kate

    Yeah, I remember seeing Penn State on the list. I was able to get in contact with a professor at Iowa State and I got some decent feedback, I’d have to really articulate what I really want to do, and find specific programs that would address what I want to do. I’m not done searching yet. What school are you attending?

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