What does it mean to be a critical, community-engaged scholar as a full-time academic? In the process of developing mutual and subversive community-engaged scholarship, what dilemmas and difficulties does an early-career academic deal with? This paper taps into these questions by reflecting on my experience of developing a community program and colonial logics embedded in prevalent narratives around community engagement and research. I joined academia with the purpose and hope of making an impact on social inequity beyond the boundary of the academy by engaging with local communities, particularly working-class immigrant communities. During my transition from a K–12 teacher to academia, I learned how community practices are distinctly shaped and defined in relation to research and service in the academic discourses. With predominant research practices and community service that re-inscribe colonial relations and maintain the status quo, becoming a community-engaged scholar does not simply mean a scholar who works with or for communities. It entails a strong intention to subvert the hierarchical relationship between the academy and community, challenge the colonial politics of knowledge production, and re-define the academy as a platform for social change and activism.

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