The podcast began as a collaborative project among several like-minded faculty in Connecticut.  However, due to the many demands and various responsibilities, many of my colleagues could not continue to participate.  So, after being awarded a small grant from the Hartford Consortium of Higher Education, Gabe Herman, Sneha Jayaraj and I launched the first episode.  Today, the team consists of Sneha Jayaraj, who co-produces the podcast episodes, and I.

The content in the podcast is an extension of my classroom and my op-ed essays published in the Hartford Courant.  The podcast is a space to engage in conversations that I wouldn’t normally have in the classroom because there isn’t enough time or the curriculum doesn’t allow for them.  The podcast is also an opportunity to create something new and forward-thinking that can be transferred into my classroom, while creating a space for dialogue with faculty, students, parents and the community at large.  Most of all, it is a vehicle to educate, raise awareness and build community while bridging the gap between academia and its surrounding and supporting communities.  This podcast allows me to center people of color and other marginalized groups in a way that rarely happens in American spaces, including academia.

While I don’t recall exactly how we arrived at the name, Inside Out/Outside In, I feel it is very befitting of who I am.  As an immigrant, I often feel like an outsider in the United States even after living here for over forty years.  However, since I migrated here from the Caribbean as a teenager, I don’t feel quite at home when I visit there either.  As a Black woman, I am continuously given messages that communicate I don’t belong or am not welcomed in many of the spaces I navigate, yet I show up and make these spaces my own.

In line with the theory of insider-outsider (Lindbeck and Snower, 1984), I have and continue to enter the very spaces that are normally limited to people of great privilege.  My academic achievements and employment record are testaments to that.  Yet, as a Black, immigrant woman, I often feel restricted, marginalized and at times invisible in these settings.  Yet, I continue to leverage my position to create space for myself and hold space for others like me.

I hope the joy and gratification I get from listening to the stories of people of color and marginalized groups, while creating spaces where they are centered, serves to amplify them and their experiences and minimize their invisibility and the erasure of their accomplishments, pain and resilience.

To learn more about my work and written publications, visit my personal website.

Christiana Best