“My summer at HU had already laid the foundation for more progressive thoughts,” wrote Kandice Guice in her piece called “How My HBCU Experience Taught Me To Be Unapologetically Black.” Guice said that she was impressed with some students who attended Howard University while interacting with them during a congressional internship in the nation’s capital. She was in her senior year of undergraduate at a PWI and ultimately decided to enroll at an HBCU for her masters following the encounter.
As I headed into my senior year of college, I took a congressional internship in D.C.
It was the beginning of a shift in perspective about what it meant to be young, intelligent, and black.
My roommates were three beauties from Howard University. Two were finishing up in Finance and Accounting, while one was on the road to law school. They took me in, introducing me to the mecca of HBCU culture.
I sat in on deep analytical discussions regarding politics and social issues – falling in love with their confidence to speak their thoughts firmly from a black perspective. These women were not intimidated by the stark perceptions that might formulate from their confidence. Nor did they bother to worry about fitting into the small box I was squirming within. They stood tall in their glory and even seemed to flourish in it.
I watched as afros, melanin, and magic erupted into a special type of synergy I’d never knew I longed for. I saw much of the same as I hung out with other HU students who used their perspective to create the type of opportunities for themselves that we all dream of.
Mass communication majors discussed their ideas of unique niches geared toward people of color. Up and coming fashion designers hosted impeccable shows thoughtfully choreographed and marketed for Black audiences. Models planned New York Fashion Week takeovers that would dip the city in brown hues. Students from different regions and socioeconomic backgrounds formed connections with thought leaders who were on the cusp of greatness.
These students won a national network of folks who’d forever be connected to them through a shared HBCU experience. It was priceless.
I watched all of this, a little envious of their ability to walk upright in the coexistence of their ambitions and their culture. Although impressed, I still wasn’t fully confident in my ability to do the same.
I went back to my own school, wanting to disappear as everyone waited on my response to cultural conversations or politically charged issues affecting minorities. There was still this thought that I’d be miscategorized based on some action that was foreign to those in my work and social circles – thus I was silent in instances when I had something of value to say.
I was still struggling through how to lean into my confidence as an intelligent black woman. In my mind, one wrong move would label me a stupid misfit and set the entire culture back five decades.
Somehow, I held on to this eerie feeling that the work I did in this world would never amount to anything if I couldn’t get people who didn’t look like me to feel comfortable with my blackness. And so I shrunk myself – until I enrolled at Southern University for my Masters and Law Degree.
Head over to XONecole.com to read.