When you look around, it’s only you. You are alone. You are the only black kid in class.
So let’s get into it.
There are a swarm of emotions you feel when you realize you’re the only person of color in your class: annoyed, bothered, isolated. And rightly so. There’s so much that comes with being the sole black kid in a room dominated by white students.
When the discussion in class has anything remotely to do with black people, heads immediately turn to you. Sometimes it even feels like it's done in slow motion. 20 pairs of eyes glare you down, reminding you—again—that you’re the only one.
Yes...Can I help you?
The constant stares basically tell us that all you see when you look at us is our skin color.
What about our black skin lets you think it’s okay to suddenly turn our way when the discussion is about racism, slavery, the Civil Rights, or the BLM movements?
People have decided being black means we’re “experts” on all of these topics, but that doesn’t mean you have to look and place all that pressure on us. Now, as the only black kid, we feel uncomfortable because you can’t keep your eyes forward. And to make matters worse, it’s not only the students. Teachers always pick on us, too.
If you’re turning to us during these conversations, make sure you’re looking at us for every conversation. Your awareness about your reactions and actions will avoid a lot of the discomfort we as black people have to feel everyday in class.
Why does everyone expect us to be the woke ones?
Just because we’re black doesn't mean we have all the answers.
Just because we’re black doesn't mean we’re obligated to give you insight.
It’s not our job to educate you on matters of race or history. There’s a teacher for a reason. Our personal experience shouldn’t be dissected or demanded as though it’s part of the syllabus.
Educate yourself. Don’t be shy to ask questions. ASK. If you don’t understand something, the teacher can elaborate on basic topics. This can help you understand so maybe you won’t keep expecting black people to teach you how to be woke.
We’re always the outcast, friendships be damned
You feel ALONE.
That's what you feel in that moment. And it fucking sucks.
There could be other friends in the class who are sensitive to the issues we experience but they also will never have to encounter those same issues.
They don’t understand what it’s like to sit in a room where no one looks like you.
They don’t understand what it’s like to be hyper-aware of every move you make.
We drown in our thoughts, questioning our every action and response throughout the class. Are we acting “too black?” Do we sound ghetto? Do we sound angry? And if we’re women, are they hearing our words or do they just think I’m angry? Too many questions run through our mind just by being in a classroom, and to be honest, it’s exhausting.
Imagine contemplating everything for a whole hour just to make sure we look like the “respectable” black kid.
You feel targeted. Pressured. Insecure.
What sucks is this feeling transcends school. It happens at work, in friends groups, on tv
and it makes us feel even more alone.
There’s no escape from the isolation regardless of friendly faces. There’s no changing the irking discomfort that comes from being the only black kid in the room. They're expecting you to respond for the whole community, but I can’t speak for the whole community. Every black person has their own story, their own journey, and their own struggle.
Granted, the problems we face systematically are very similar, but putting the burden of advocacy completely on our shoulders, hurts in ways it’s hard to articulate.
So watch your circles, be better allies, ‘cause winning this fight is gonna take all of us.
The only way we will all move forward is by diversifying our environment. Broaden your friend group and the people you talk to. Most college campuses will have many This will allow you to gain different perspectives when it comes to prejudice and discrimination. A one track mind hinders progress.
Look at the news, educate yourself on issues of race, smile at the black kid in class, and maybe try to be friends. Respect us if we open up about our experience, value our opinions when we speak, care about our responses both as a student and as people of color in general.
You might not understand what it is that we go through, but the best thing you can offer us is pledging that, while you will never know what it’s like to be us, you do know you’re part of a solution.