The analogy that hit too close to home.
I was sitting in my AP English class my junior year of high school. The desks were in a wide circular formation, meaning that it was going to be a deep discussion today. I remember sitting in my desk and watched as my white professor was introducing the theme of class by listing all the authors we had been researching: James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sojourner Truth, etc. Those were all big red flags to me that today was going to be a racism discussion.
I went to a white high school mind you.
There were two black people out of a class of twenty-something…and this included me.
So I’m sitting in a desk next to the other black girl in my class, both of us shifting uncomfortably in our desks. Our professor was preaching about all the prejudice and hardships that these authors went through when they wrote their books and essays, intriguing the woke and putting the ignorant to sleep. The lecture was going so well, until my professor makes eye contact with me.
“Delina, tell us how you’ve experienced racism and oppression throughout your life?”
My professor asked me those exact words to me from across the rooms, and every brown, blue, green, and grey pair of eyes were shifted towards my direction. Now I like attention as much as the next extravert, but I was not prepared to share my sob story in front of a group of students who would just feel sorry and go along with their day fifty minutes later without a care in the world.
This unit lasted an entire damn week, and every time my professor needed a real life example, there I was, ready to be picked on but no where to hide.
And I know what you’re wondering: what about the other sista that was in my class?
If you wanted to be technical, she was mixed with Syrian and black; basically not black enough for our professor (plus they low key had beef but we ain’t about to talk about that). But it was during one of these lectures I would whisper to my friend during class and randomly tell her, “I feel like a chocolate chip cookie that was accidentally dropped in a sugar cookie.”
And from that day on, that phrase has stuck close to me.
I don’t know why the analogy had involved cookies. Probably because it was the class before lunch and I was starving. But either way, it was still a pretty damn memorable quote of mine that I mentally recall from day to day.
Going from a majorly white high school to a majorly white university has made me realize how much I crave for understanding–how I long to be around other people who could relate what I go through ever day mentally and emotionally. In high school, I had no one to turn to when having this kind of desire. In high school, I faced the emotionally excruciating task of constantly proving to my white peers that I was even black: from the way I walked, to the way I talked, to the way I behaved. But proving was draining me. Proving what I obviously was was a tiring task that I never wanted to partake in, but was roped into. I could have a brightly lit up name tag that read “Hello, I’m Black” written in bold black letters and would still have to constantly prove myself to others. I went through this daily, yet did not have that solidifying circle that could assure me of my identity.
College: the cancer and the cure
I’m not gonna lie; Gonzaga has a lot of white people. Way more than I thought. Every time I walked throughout campus I felt like I was seeing similar faces everywhere I turned. Whenever I saw a person of color from a distance, a large part of me would fill up with excitement and comfort.
College made me realize that no matter how nice or amazing people are, there was still a layer of ignorance that I could not look away from.
At college, I didn’t just feel like a random chocolate chip in a sugar cookie; I felt like a random chocolate chip in a batch of a dozen sugar cookies. I felt even more isolated. I felt like a number, a percentage, rather than an actual human being.
One day I was in a leadership class. There were four black kids in that class including myself, and there happened to be a day where all four of us happened to be leaving class early for an event called “Diversity Monologues,” an event were a whole bunch of minorities expressed their day to day struggles through the art of poetry. As we all left the class, our professor said something that startled not only us, but everyone in the class.
“There goes Diversity Monologues, taking away our diversity.”
Taking away your diversity?
If we didn’t feel like statistics before, we sure did after that not-so subtle comment.
After that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. Her playful tone echoed in my mind like a woodpecker pecking for wood: constantly, unabruptly, and annoyingly. When I voiced my annoyance to others, some didn’t get it. Others were outraged and thought I should have voiced my opinion to the director. But what could I do alone? I am a small percentage, a statistic.
Thankfully though, I found people: people who related to me emotionally and mentally. A group of people who understood what reality was truly like. People who were a part of the small statistic, but could make my small voice louder and influential.
I honestly don’t know if I could survive college without that group honestly.
I’m only one year down, and so much has already happened to me. Honestly, college made me realize I ain’t shit. I still have so much growing to do as a woman. You think that graduating high school and turning eighteen makes you the biggest macho-adult ever, but once I was alone at school, I realized I still have so much to learn and to grow.
A part of me doesn’t feel ready for the many years up ahead for me, but another part of me is also frighteningly excited what lies ahead for me in the coming years.