I’m black and I’m a student at the University of Florida, that should make me a part of Black UF, right?
Seemingly, yes. However, we all know that differing social hierarchies, political structures, and cliques of friends make it easy for some students to get lost in the midst of what’s supposed to be your home.
For a while, I was one of those students. During my first semester at UF, I wasn’t selected to participate in the opportunities that I thought would get me involved in the black community. I didn’t realize how deeply it hurt me until now. I cared so much about my people, and I felt like others didn’t feel the same way about me. So, I decided I’d be active in other ways. I started my initial blog to help black college women navigate through their own spaces, followed scholars and activists on Twitter to gain more insight on the depth of the issues we face, and made an effort to apply to diversity programs and events outside of the University of Florida—my most recent being at Twitter’s NYC offices last week.
While I gained so much from all of these experiences, I didn’t realize the growing animosity I had towards the sociopolitical culture that is Black UF. I started making an active effort to separate myself from the events and people that lead the organizations I felt rejected by. I thrust myself into my business involvement because it was the only place I felt like I had a say in what was going on. Later I’d come to understand that I’d spent all this time professionally developing when I hadn’t spent enough time knowing myself first.
I didn’t realize how hurt I felt by my personal experiences, so I spent my time being mad at “the system.” To be completely honest, there is a system here. If you get involved with the right people and are in the right places freshman year, you will create invaluable connections that will lead you to bigger and better things, but part of that is just simple human nature. And from the outside looking in, its easy to think that everyone who has what you thought you wanted got it handed to them.
I was bitter. But over time, it occurred to me that everyone is their own unique person and it’s okay to have varying values and approaches to problem-solving. It doesn’t mean that anyone is better than anyone else, we’re all just different.
I say all this to say that now is the time to let the past hurt go, because shit is getting real on this campus. It’s hard enough to discern what non-black people you can trust, I can’t look at my brothers and sisters (and non-binary black people) and have to wonder what their intentions are.
Make an active effort to reach out to your fellow black person and start and open dialogue about the issues we both face. We’re all confused. We’re all hurt by what’s occurring on campus right now. We all want change.
So, let’s not let the past get in the way of that. The only way we can fight the cross-campus injustice is through unity, first and foremost. I started last night. I’ll continue over time. It’s not easy and mistakes will be made, but it needs to be done right now.
Also, I suggest coming out to this community meeting so we can start demanding our desires together.
Hope to see you there.