The Greatest Culture Shock of All Time

For the majority of my academic career, I went to predominantly white private schools.

Starting from 4th grade until I graduated from high school, I was the minority in my school. Typically, I was outnumbered by my white peers, or I was the only black person in my classroom. There were always those awkward conversations in class about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement where the teacher would specifically ask me my opinion, or there were those weird comments where my white friends would tell me that I was pretty “for a black girl.” In corporate America, it is common for black people, especially black women, to be given a harder time by their white colleagues. However, it is difficult to accept that innocent, young black girls are faced with the same adversities in school. Yes, they are faced with these adversities in places that, in many cases, serve as a safe haven for some youth and have been specifically made for educating them.

Towards my eighth grade year of middle school, I began to realize that in order to fit in at my white school, I may have to conform to their lifestyle in some ways. I found myself changing things slightly. First, I began to change my clothes to keep myself from standing out. As most young black girls were exploring fashion that appealed to the black culture by wearing neon outfits and feather earrings, I was begging my parents for Patagonia and Columbia. I looked like I was about to go hunting, and that was not me at all! Then, I realized that my hair was not as long as my white friends’ hair. With that being said, you guessed it, I begged my parents to let me get weave in my hair. I was not always happy with my new look. However, I was fitting in and that was all that mattered at the time.

By the time I reached my senior year of high school, I had experienced enough racism from my schools. I decided that I was tired of being the minority and that enough was enough. I realized that I had my entire life to be the minority, and I would continue my education at a Historically Black College or University. Not only did I decide to attend an HBCU, I decided to attend the Illustrious Clark Atlanta University! On move-in day, I knew that I made the right decision. There was music playing and people dancing. Everywhere I looked, there were people that looked like me. I was in somewhat of a shock to see that these were not the black people that the world depicted us to be. These were people of black excellence, and I was glad to call myself a part of it. Not too long after being at Clark Atlanta University, I began to feel confident in my skin. I wanted people to know that I had curly hair and loved to dress up in more than just t-shirts and shorts. I also wanted to be a part of the change that the students of the Atlanta University Center would make in the world. Coming to Clark Atlanta University was definitely a culture shock, but it shocked me into knowing that I am a part of a culture that produces black excellence!