This past semester was my hardest semester at Princeton thus far. As a junior, I was confronted with taking five classes for the first time, having to think about my independent research, producing independent research, attending to a more rigorous work schedule, the thought of actual post-graduation plans, familial tensions, maintaining entire relationships and, of course, Continue reading
Like most grandmas, mine liked to tell stories. She was made for it. She was short and wide, with a billion wrinkles folded into one another, like elaborate human origami. Her skin was the color of peanut butter and she always smelled like her daily cocoa butter routine. We children used to say she was carved out of candy. But her glory was in her voice. Her voice was bull strong and sugar sweet and had the power to make every word into a jewel.
The first time I woke up and remembered I was black, I couldn’t breathe.
In 2012, a study examined the correlation between TV watching and self esteem in children, and came up with some not-so-surprising results: white boys who watched television had higher self esteem, while white girls, black girls, and black boys who watched television had lower self esteem. Both lack of representation and associations with undesirable behavior contributed to the low esteem outcomes, while, on the other hand, white male characters were far more often associated with strength, logic, and accomplishment, as well as a more varied set of character traits.
At every protest I’ve participated in or been to—whether it’s been in Ferguson, which is only twenty minutes away from my home in St. Louis, or on Princeton’s campus—the signs held up by most protestors have boasted the names of slain Black men. At those same protests in which activists, young and old, highlight the deaths of Black men, I always notice one lone and audacious woman holding up a sign with the names of murdered Black girls and women penned on it.
After my first semester at Princeton University, I was excited to return home to Guam for winter break. However, instead of being happy to be back in what most people deem as a “tropical paradise,” I was reminded of something sobering: I am poor. Compared to the comforts provided at Princeton, the living conditions of my family seemed dismal. While some students complain about their dorm beds being too lumpy or the water pressure in the restrooms being too low, I was grateful for these things after having to sleep on the couch and floor for my entire life and to use a bucket to flush the toilets at home.
Imagine being in seventh grade. Your despotic math teacher, unable to distinguish between the voices that were speaking during class, has held your entire class after for detention. About fifteen or twenty minutes in, you hear the secretary in the office call your name over the intercom. As she tries to explain that you have to leave, you hear your father’s booming voice in the background:
“SHE CAN’T STAY FOR DETENTION! WE ARE JEWS! WE HAVE TO OBSERVE THE SABBATH!!”
There exists a global indifference to black suffering. While we proclaim that all lives matter, our society tends to discuss black lives in a reductive manner. Time and time again, we are reminded that black bodies were conditioned at birth for suffering. Continue reading