It’s been a while since I’ve written here, but with everything that has been happening with Black people, it feels so important to let my voice/words be heard. We cannot change the past, but we can shed light on it, so it may not be repeated in the future.
“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” – Zora Neale Hurston
I have many painful memories of growing up Black, here is one of them. It is important for us as Black people to tell our stories. There are White people or others who will know us for years and not know about our traumas, because we’ve buried them so deep. For that reason some people feel we are all living equally and having the same experiences. We are not.
High School dance.
When I was in high school I was a good student, academically, I averaged B to A- grades. Except for math. I was barely passing that and I dropped it as soon as I could. I believe that was before grade 10.
I would say that, I was a pretty good person in general. I didn’t get into trouble, or cause any. To be honest, most of my graduating class probably have no idea who I am, because I was so under the radar.
I was pretty active in my school community, and was chosen as a peer mediator. The goal was to help kids who got into fights resolve their issues peacefully. I was part of the drama club. I also co-founded our ONLY ever Black History committee, Afrocentric. We organized assemblies and highlighted Black activists, pioneers and leaders during the morning announcements. This was an effort to educate our school community and ourselves on Black people, past and present. We went on television a few times, including MuchMusic (Americans, that’s the Canadian version of MTV). We got to discuss what we were working on with this committee and how it could help expand our community. We wrote our own short skit and performed at a local theatre. I played Rosa Parks, and was featured in the local newspaper. Outside of school I worked a part time job. Took voice lessons, and danced with an African-Caribbean dance group around Toronto. I was working my ass off.
One day after class, in my senior year, one of my teachers asked to talk to me. He said to me, you shouldn’t bother applying to any universities, because you probably won’t get in.
I was confused.
I was shocked.
I was hurt.
I felt broken, but only temporarily.
I went on to apply to my 4 universities of choice and I got into every single one. I was so excited. With encouragement from home, I marched into this teacher’s classroom and I showed him all 4 acceptance letters. His response, oh that’s nice.
Even then, my gut knew what was happening. This White man was telling me, I’m not good enough and I’ll never be good enough so don’t even bother trying. As Black people we are taught that we have to work twice as hard just to get half and even then there are people who will try to take that from us. This is just ONE of my stories and I know most, if not every Black person has something similar and painful in their memory bank.
A change has to come.