To the Population of White Liberals at Princeton,
I call your name to ask you what time it is because my phone is dead. You don’t respond. I call your name the second time, remembering who you are despite having first met you less than 20 minutes ago. I know you’ll never remember mine until I repeat it to you for the 12th time, until I show you my prox and help you sound it out. There is something about societal invisibility that makes me observant of all that is around me. Continue reading
The bass comes in – high and bright. The steady, slow knock of the snare. Simple, clean, groovy. In true R&B fashion, this tempo makes you want to move your head and snap your fingers keeping your hips still. The bass dips quickly, bringing the mood down. The tone is a bit solemn now, but still groovy. In the background Solange Knowles sings passively the words, “One for us.” The keys enter with a fresh, simple progression and, just as they simultaneously, Solange simultaneously inhales in anticipation of delivering the thirteenth heartfelt message from her newest album A Seat at the Table. Continue reading
This past summer the University of Connecticut made headlines when it announced that it would establish a separate housing section particularly for black male students. Immediately, this decision sparked outrage and criticism, with detractors accusing the administration of encouraging a separatist atmosphere. The magazine The National Review went so far as to say that the new policy encouraged “racial isolation and stereotyping, along with a sense of grievance and a victim mentality”. It reopened a larger conversation about the role that race-specific spaces play on college campuses; the term “self-segregation” began to fly around. Certain sources like the NPR and Fox News paralleled Uconn’s new project with the racist policies of the 1960s. “Self-segregation” almost always has a certain ‘tsk-tsk’ connotation, as if minorities were doing themselves a disservice by primarily associating with those that belong to the same race and/or culture as them. Continue reading
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
In her response to President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared that “fix[ing] our broken immigration system . . . means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Continue reading
This essay was written three years ago on Martin Luther King Day in Oxford, UK.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday: January 15th, 2015.
I woke up at noon and scrambled to make myself presentable enough to eat in the dining hall. I lingered in front of the mirror, contemplating what to do with my hair. I hadn’t braided it last night, resulting in increased volume and loose, wild curls. My grandma, a Southern woman born and bred, would’ve called it “bushy.”
The first time I woke up and remembered I was black, I couldn’t breathe.
Last winter, an incident shook the quiet college-town of Charlottesville, Virginia, and brought dormant tensions over race relations bubbling to the forefront of local media. Having just returned home for winter break, I sat at my kitchen table and opened a local newspaper to the headline “Knockout: Victims of brutal Downtown Mall assault want arrests, and answers from police.”
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.
As Black History month progresses, and we take a moment to honor and celebrate our tremendous history and the great strides we have made in the last fifty or so years, I cannot help but think about the ways in which our story has been one of both triumph and disappointment.
It has been more than two months since the news came out that Darren Wilson, the White officer who gunned down eighteen-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, would not be indicted for Brown’s death. Continue reading