What It Feels Like To Be The Only Black Person In A Class

On the first day of classes I’m usually running through the maze of Old Main trying to find my classroom. Headphones blasting, I'm on a mission. Once I find the room with about 3 minutes to spare I locate the perfect seat available. It’s usually somewhere in the front but on the far end on the row. When I'm finally seated I scan the room. I look at every face searching and hoping to hit a pair of deep brown eyes with a shade of melanin that resembles my own. Calmly scanning for another Black person and if I find one a feeling of comfort washes over me. I’d probably never utter a word to them for the entire semester but knowing that they’re there comforts me.

I attend a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) and because of that I’m not always successful in my search. If I can’t find a reflection of me in class I think that all eyes are on me. I imagine a rainbow of irises glaring in my direction and questioning my presence at the university. In turn I get nervous to answer questions, fearing that people are judging my answers. Please forbid that politics or race become the topic of discussion because in that moment I feel like I have to be the spokesperson for all Black people, and if I don’t speak up then I’m doing an injustice.

It’s complicated and as much as I don't regret coming to Kutztown University-- I've met some of my best friends here-- I just wonder how life would be if I didn't have to scan the classroom. If I didn't have to worry if someone was judging my intelligence based off my skin.

I would love to end this article with a way for this feeling to go away, but as of right now I don't have one. However, I wanted to voice this just in case anyone reading this can empathize.Though I do go through these things internally I never let it show. I push all that down and I don’t let it stop me from getting what I paid for or discourage my performance in class. I try as hard as I can, speak out when I feel the need to and consume as much knowledge as possible.