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#blackoncampus:Why Its Both A Blessing And A Curse

When I committed to attending an ivy league university for four years, it was with the understanding that I would be the minority. A quick google search told me that black students make up about 5% of the Cornell population, but in my mind 5% of 14,000 undergraduate students had to be enough for us to have decent representation on campus.

Never did I think that throwing myself into this situation would be both a blessing and a curse. 

I attended a high school where the black population was almost equal to that of the white population on campus. Despite this fact, I always found myself being the only person of color in my honors and AP classes. Back then, there were times when I felt out of place, but it was never something that lingered on my mind too much and after a while, it was simply something that I learned to expect.

College ended up being a whole new world that I knew existed but didn’t want to acknowledge. No longer was I the only black person in a classroom of thirty kids. I was now one of twenty black people in a lecture hall of 400 students.

Nothing could have prepared me for this. 

This was really the first time where my color became something that I had to be aware of pretty much 24/7. Many people at this school have never really spent extended periods of time with black people, so you learn to expect that many will judge you based on our portrayals in media.  This comes with an enormous burden, because as a black female it now becomes my responsibility to be a positive representative for people who look like me. 

It wasn’t until I came to Cornell that I first heard the term “microaggressions”. When it was finally explained to me, I had a moment of self reflection and realized that I had been experiencing these since high school but didn’t exactly know what they were or how to process them. Looking back, I wish that I had recognized what was in my face the whole time.

I am no different from my white peers so why am I treated as such?

Just the other day, my roommate, who is a black female that happens to wear braids, came home outraged because of a question her professor had posed during class. According to her, each student was doing their individual work when this professor asked her in front of everyone whether or not her hair was real.

Instances such as these make it hard for us to fit in on this campus. Black women are not the only ones who wear extensions or wigs so why is it that we are the only ones who get asked about the authenticity of the hair on our head?

In these situations, we are faced with a few options:

1: Confront the person and ask why they think its okay to ask such a question, especially in front of so many people.

2: Lie and say that it is your hair

3: Tell the truth and explain that they are just extensions

Many times we are tempted to go with the first option but then we fulfill the stereotype of being loud and aggressive. Being black on a white campus is a burden, because we can’t even stand up for ourselves without gaining some kind of label.

Over the past few weeks alone, there have been protests on college campuses that call for equal opportunities for people of color. I was saddened when I logged into Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app, and read the opinions of my peers at Cornell. The worst comment that I saw said that they were glad a real tragedy (the bombings in Paris) had happened so now the people at Mizzou and Yale “can stfu.”

When will our struggles as black people be recognized?

Personally, although it has been hard, I do feel like having this type of college experience was necessary for me to grow as person. I am no longer ignorant to events going on in the world that don’t directly affect me. If I was the same person I was two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought to look into the issues going on at Mizzou, Yale, Dartmouth, etc.

This was also the first time in my life that I have had so many friends that are black. In hindsight I realize that we gravitated towards each other as a way to combat the feelings of alienation and loneliness that comes with being a minority.

Truthfully, I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a long while but I always find myself being overwhelmed with emotions whether its sadness, anger, or disappointment.

I live everyday hoping for a change I might never even see in my lifetime and this thought alone is scary.

Until next time,

Bianca.

Hit me up on social media!

Twitter: @BiancaSaysJump_

Instagram: bcousin13

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4 thoughts on “#blackoncampus:Why Its Both A Blessing And A Curse

  1. Great post! I second what you are saying. Where I come from being smart and getting good grades your looked at as a pariah. For all the money people are spending on there education we shouldn’t have to face that on college campuses but we do. My favorite saying is Never step aside, Always step up. Make your voice be heard. Wow I can’t believe someone wrote that like really. 120 people lost there lived and your glad it happened. What a got damn jerk face(I really wanted to curse, but didn’t want to disrespect your post like that). As for the hair comment. Own it, school that professor who thinks it’s okay to ask personal questions like that in front of hundreds of people. I am natural and have been for sometime now and people always ask me if I cut my hair or did something to it( shrinkage is real). I like to use the term educate, that’s what I do educate them on my hair. You said out of 400 hundred in a lecture hall only 20 might be black then maybe the professor didn’t know about braids but how they asked was incentive to your roommate.

    Like

    1. Thanks so much for your comments! I’m glad that there are others out here who understand the struggle. My friends and I always have debates on the proper way to educate people about our culture and ways of life. Its difficult but hopefully things will get easier as we move forward!

      Liked by 2 people

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