when tenure isn’t enough

external validation doesn’t matter when my internal voice says otherwise

LaToya Baldwin Clark
5 min readApr 30, 2023
Image of three different colored overlapping rectangles with “tenure” in the middle

I don’t know if I ever really believed that I might be denied tenure. I knew denial was possible, but I’d done the things I was supposed to do to get tenure. What I’d done was enough. There were weaknesses in my file, so perhaps, a few votes against me. But not most of the votes.

Also, I had an army of Black folks who pledged to burn this mothaf — -r down if I didn’t get tenure. I got peoples.

I called my mom first. Mostly everyone else got a text. Then Facebook and Twitter. I watched as hundreds of friends liked the post. My dad posted it on his page and another hundred people wrote congratulatory words.

My “I got tenure” tweet got retweeted by people I didn’t know and suddenly thousands of people were also saying congrats. Together with my flesh-in-blood friends and family, it felt nice.

Tweet that reads “Guys. Ya girl done gone and got tenure.”

It felt nice for a while. Then nice wore off. I fell down back to where I was the day before the vote, the day before that and the umpteenth days of my life before that. I feel deeply unsure. Not if I’d done enough. But if I was…



LaToya Baldwin Clark

Law professor. Living with Bipolar. Teach and write about the law of educational inequality, property and the family. Mom of 3. All opinions my own.