Imagine you're walking down the street, and you see African vendors, selling trinkets, shea butter and incenses. You see the bodegas/corner stores semi packed with school kids, as you walk past apartment buildings to get to school.
This is just a little imagery of my surroundings when I went to school. I was in a place that was culturally diverse, The shops are owned by people of color, and the area all around was mostly people of color as well.
To the world I’m classified as a minority, but growing up with people who look like me and related to my struggles, I never felt out of place or as though I was alone.
Growing up simultaneously in Harlem and the Bronx, I was always surrounded by people of color. Harlem is essentially the black part of Manhattan (it’s being gentrified now, but I digress), and it’s where I spent most of my time and went to school.
Everyone around me, had similar hair struggles, understood “black culture,” and we, for the most part, had the same upbringing.
Now imagine leaving a place you’ve been for your whole life. Changing your daily routine, and surrounded by a whole new environment. As you look around, you barely see people who look like you or remind you of home.
Coming to Emerson was that. A huge culture shock. I was used to being in the majority, but now I just feel out of place. Everyone is so different, and more expressive, in there hair and clothing styles. There’s a lot of theatre singing, and talks of films I’ve never heard of.
As for my classes, well they’re great so far, but this is the first time in my whole school experience where I’ve eagerly looked around to see if any one was like me. Obviously everyone is new in the class, but they all have something that I don’t, which is having more privilege in their pinky, than I have in my whole body.
I know that I’m going to a liberal arts school, but that doesn’t mean that there won't be times were people will be out of line. I will have to deal with microaggressions. Some of biggest worries are of course being in the face of racism, but also being seen as a default. By that I mean when it comes to issues about black people, and people of color, others automatically looking to me to speak on it. I can’t speak for a whole race, let alone a whole group of people.
With that being said everything isn’t too bad, we’re in a city with a nice park, a movie theater near by, and Chinatown where there’s good food. Along with that my suitemates and I get along great, we have movie nights, and gossip. And one of my closest friends goes to school at Northeastern not to far from here, so she reminds me a lot of home, and we explore Boston together.
Joining groups centered on people of color is how I’m surviving. One of the groups being Flawless Brown, where we get to speak our truths as women of color on campus while, creating our passions. Another group being EBONI where black students get together and talk about things on campus along with pop cultural and our own culture.
Coming here to Emerson and Boston was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because it was my first time being alone. Although with the new friends I’m meeting, and the groups that I’ve joined life feels more manageable. It’s definitely hard dealing with new experiences, but as long, I can confined in the community I’m building for myself, I feel like I can do anything.