In August, I started my first semester at the university. Like many freshmen, I was nervous and didn’t know if I would make friends or be happy at the place that I chose. As a female attending a university especially in the male-dominated major of film, I already find myself intimidated of what is to come. Being an African-American female at a predominately white institution (PWI) puts you in a different category.
When it was decided earlier in the year that I was attending a PWI, I was instantly questioned about my decision. I found myself constantly explaining to others my reasons behind my choice. I was belittled by my family members and peers alike, which made me feel I personally made the wrong choice. Subconsciously, I was already fighting this battle in my brain but outside sources made it seem even worse. I became mentally exhausted as I found myself putting my foot down and declaring that it was what I wanted to do whether they like it or not various times.
When I actually began my academic semester, I became truly aware of how being an African American in a non-diversity setting is like. Coming from a majority black high school, it was a total culture shock to me. I found myself constantly being looked at in places like I was a new species to some people. In classes, I found myself scanning the room to find someone that looked similar to me. Hoping that I would find at least one other minority to feel that you mentally have a connection with. It is those things that made me realize the truth behind the pictures on my university’s website.
I’m blessed to say that I haven’t had any major (or really minor) racial situations happen to me during my first semester. Though there were moments where I have checked people on things they have said and to them became the sole judge of what’s racist and what’s not. It seems that many don’t understand that the words “I’m not racist but…” always follows with a racist or stereotypical comment or question.
Suddenly becoming a token black person is not something that people are prepared for. I found myself within the first few weeks having an inner battle with myself every time I chose to speak out or for my race. But over time, I learned to love my culture even more. I found people that I can surround myself with when I need to be reminded of that. Learning how to love myself and where I come from has helped me both survive and enjoy my university. I’m now eager and confident to speak out against stereotypes and prejudice that comes my way. I’m breaking one boundary at a time and I can’t wait to see what the next 3 1/2 years do for me.