I remember my wonder years as a college student. Whenever I told someone I went to Penn State I would get the same response. Ohhh…Ahhh…Wooha! It made me feel good, like I was doing something great with my life. It made me feel validated even…But then after 4-years, I graduated.
As soon as I graduated, I knew things would change and it did. Now the Wooha’s were replaced with “So what now?” It was a frightening reality that my degree was just that, a degree, a piece of paper, and nothing I did in college mattered remotely to the giant machine we all know as the real world.
Eventually, the wooha’s came back when I landed my first job on Wall Street. I was working for a financial tech company which made it seem like everything I was doing was super important. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for my job was lackluster at best and the wooha’s began to diminish again. People could see that although my job was great it didn’t align with who I was or what I should be doing.
Chasing the wooha’s led me to do many other things that did not align with who I was. It led me to apply to law school when I knew deep down inside I didn’t love the idea of being a lawyer. It led me to apply to business school when deep down inside I knew I didn’t like the business culture that much. It led me to chase after goals that seemed pretty on paper and socially acceptable but just wasn’t for me. It led me to deny a bit of myself in the pursuit of acceptance.
Now, I am at the point in my life where the wooha’s cannot define my journey anymore. Yes, it would be great to be praised for how successful I am, but society defines success in very rigid and traditional ways and that’s just not my trajectory. I want to be true to myself, not the wooha’s. I want to be happy with what I am doing and I plan on doing just that.
Sam White is a bi-racial student activist who has a radio show called Dear White People. She’s working hard to implement change at Winchester University (a predeominately white institution (PWI)), starting with her appointment to Head of the all-black dorms Armstrong/Parker. A huge racial divide is brewing between the whites and the blacks at the school.
The movie simultaneously follows the lives of three other black students attending the university, including Coco, who comes off as an Uncle Tom, Troy Fairbanks who is the son of the school’s dean, and Lionel Higgins, who is the nerd, stereotyped and bullied mostly because of his sexuality. Sam and Lionel along with a group of other racially diverse students ultimately work together to ignite the biggest race war in their school’s history as a result of a racist Halloween party thrown by a popular student magazine.
This movie hit home for me in more ways than one. If you went to a PWI, then you know what it means to be an “other.” I spent the majority of my college career, but specifically my last two years feeling like an outsider. I just didn’t feel like I was in an environment that understood me. When I saw this movie, I felt like I wasn’t alone. Someone had to feel the same way to create such a real and culturally poignant movie for my generation. I say my generation; because this movie deals with the individual and institutional racism we encounter at the most prominent universities in America today. It also channels a modern-day Spike Lee Joint. This movie isn’t an attack on White people but illustrates the experience of what it means to be black in America or in a smaller scope what it means to be black in a university where the majority is non-black.
I encourage you to watch for yourself. I found the movie on Hulu
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The below excerpt is my first attempt at writing about the issue of Colorism, during my sophomore year in college. I’ll share with you the first three pages of this 20-page research paper. This essay along with a few others eventually helped me win the Excellence in Communication Award at Penn State. If you decide you would like to read more about Colorism, please read the book The Color Complex, it’s one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read regarding this issue:
If you’re black get back/if you’re brown stick around/ if your light you’re all right.
Being Black or being White has historically separated people in America and around the world but what many people fail to realize or even acknowledge is a gap has been bridged within the black race as a result of the differentiation and discrimination based on skin tones. Colorism is the coined word to describe the dirty little secret that our community perpetuates through its idealizations of Eurocentric beauty standards and denouncement of Afrocentric standards of beauty. Skin complexion, hair type, and body image have always been conscious issues for African American’s but it is the root of self-loathing and low self-esteem as well. This form of intra-racism has proved to be psychologically detrimental to African Americans’ sense of self. Colorism is immoral, unethical, and undeniably one of the reasons why black people do not feel accepted within their own race. It promotes insecurity and inequality because people are no longer being judged by their intelligence or capabilities; they are being judged by the lightness or darkness of their skin. If we are going to successfully progress into a bright future we need to learn and understand our history. If more African Americans took the time to understand their troubled past they would understand that colorism is essentially a construct and does not dictate the type of person you are, nor does it dictate your self-worth. Understanding the dark history behind colorism is one of the first steps towards progress. The next step toward progress is acceptance. The internalized self-hate one feels towards oneself because other members in society deem them inferior is one of the reasons why we may never advance towards a society that does not judge people based on the color of their skin. Accepting that being black is not necessarily a dilemma but an armor you should wear with pride is foremost. Continue reading “Colorism”
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. -Luke 15:1-7
Lost sheep. I was the lost sheep that Jesus talks about in the parable. I remember the very day when I wanted to be redeemed. I’ll have to save some of the details for when I eventually write my book (total plug), but I was in my bed at Penn State University. My “boy-friend” at the time just left after a weekend of total sin. He wasn’t really my boyfriend but we were together for two years. He strung me along and claimed he wasn’t ready for a relationship. In all actuality he was ready for a relationship, he just wasn’t ready for one with me. My soul was spent. I felt dirty. I felt like I was sleeping with a demon. I felt low, unworthy, soiled, and disgusting. I can’t describe the feeling but I had the weight of sin all over me. I cried from day to night. I felt so alone in that empty room in Pennsylvania. The feeling was indescribable. I called on God. Help me, lord. Get me out of this situation. Get the pain that I am feeling in my heart and chest out. Make me whole again. Nothing changed, I felt the same. I eventually went in the shower to try and wash off all remnants of him. I was with a man who wouldn’t even give me a title, yet I just spent the weekend giving him all of me. I would do anything for him. I was like the girl in Coming to America, who barked on Prince Zamunda’s command. If I noticed he was going to the strip club too often, I turned into the stripper. When he demeaned me, I tried to change myself so I could be more acceptable in his eyes. Every day that we spent not in a relationship but doing relationship things weighed on my confidence. I knew I deserved someone to respect me enough to claim me but I couldn’t break the shackles of this soul tie. It was a strong soul tie indeed. Continue reading “Lost Sheep”
A couple months ago I wrote a blog about Relationship Weight and how much I’ve gained after getting too comfortable. Well, I am finally taking my own advice and doing something about it. On April 1st I applied for Weight Watchers. I signed up for the $44 a month plan, which consists of meetings, 24/7 counseling, and online support. There are also other price points more or less than what I chose. I will consider the $19.95 a month plan once I get some control over my weight. The pictures of me in Dubai was a reality check; I looked at least 15-pounds overweight. I haven’t checked my weight but I can always tell when I’ve gained some. I get rolls in my neck and back. My face also looks fuller than it already is. I believe I am probably around 150 and I would like to get back down to 135. I feel like I am in college again when I gained the freshman 15 during my junior year. I already know what you’re thinking, junior year? but that year I decided to stay on campus in the dorms after 2-years of having my own apartment. With dorm living, comes the meal plan, where you can eat all day, every day and only God knows what they put in that food to make you fat.
I was surprised by how much fun Weight Watchers actually is. Each day I track the food I am eating and sometimes to meet certain goals I’ll eat fruit or more veggies which I would’ve never done had I not signed up for the program. I get 26 points daily that I try not to go over. The first couple of days I was going over these points. My love for baked mac and cheese cannot be replaced, but it was taking a majority of my daily points(10 pts) and this week alone I had it 3-4 times. I feel like as I get more involved and invested in the program things will change and I will begin to take my weight loss journey more seriously. Excited to share this new journey with you. I am so stubborn when it comes to my food and don’t like to exercise, but I am going to try to make this fun.