Peggy Odom-Reed, M.S. ’97, Ph.D. ’07, senior lecturer in the School of Hotel Administration, shares her story in the latest episode in the Inclusive Excellence podcast series, “Blackness at Cornell,” presented by the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity.
The special series features Black faculty and staff discussing how they define Blackness and Black identity.
In Part III of the “Blackness at Cornell” series, Odom-Reed starts by recounting an incident in elementary school in which a teacher attempted to hold her back because the teacher claimed she’d failed an achievement test. She proved her capabilities when she was retested, but the discriminatory act remains a vivid memory in her lived experience.
“That experience was devastating to me,” Odom-Reed said. “It changed my perception of people in our world.”
Odom-Reed said the experience also inspired her “to want to go to college and not question whether I could, because I’m the first in my family to be a college graduate.”
Despite her academic achievements, her struggle against systemic racism has not ended, she said. Blackness, to Odom-Reed, “means strength – unity in being connected to an understanding and supportive community who share similar experiences and help each other to survive in a majority white country.”
Each episode of the special series – hosted by diversity and inclusion specialists Anthony Sis and Toral Patel – aims to recognize the voices and elevate the experiences of Black faculty and staff at Cornell.
– Tom Fleischman