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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

A PWI is a predominantly white institution, meaning that a majority of the student body at said college/university are white. As a Black woman at a PWI, I’ve had a mixture of good and bad experiences in both social and academic settings. Yet, from these encounters, I’ve learned how to advocate not only more for myself but others. Although I’ve made a close-knit community with other Black and POC students on campus, there were still prejudices that I faced throughout my college career.

I think one common experience that all Black students attending a PWI can share is the slew of microaggressions (and even macroaggressions) that they’ve faced throughout their academic career and social lives. According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary,  a microaggression is  “a comment or action that subtly and sometimes unconsciously expresses a prejudiced attitude towards a marginalized group, such as a racial minority.”

During my freshman year, I remember participating in a discussion about race and women of color in a predominantly white class. Even though my peers quickly dominated the conversation, I shared my thoughts and my own experience as a Black woman in America. What I thought would be an insightful addition to the conversation, quickly turned into my thoughts being tone checked. It was implied that I was angry, or coming off as hostile during the discourse. 

This is a common and exhausting experience as a Black woman attending a PWI. When speaking against racism or sexism and expressing disagreement towards something, I can too often be labeled as aggressive. My knowledge and passion shouldn’t be misconstrued as anger, as it reduces me to the “angry Black woman” stereotype.

With being active in different organizations and clubs, I’ve been able to bond with other students of color and I’m thankful for the community that I’ve cultivated for myself as a safe space.

However, I still face the hardship of being a Black woman and having to educate others through my experiences. It can be mentally and emotionally draining to engage in discourse surrounding your race and culture, especially when you’re often the only representative in the room. 

Although it is important that these topics are being brought up and discussed, the conversations can often feel imbalanced. I respect and encourage allyship, as there are other students who want to learn and make changes to the institution too. Yet, it is still draining for the oppressed to be put in positions where we’re expected to accommodate our white counterparts when they are reforming themselves. 

Being a Black woman at a PWI can be a rollercoaster of emotions, but through this journey, I’ve learned how to handle these situations and they’ve made me stronger and smarter. To combat the negative incidents, I created friendships and bonds with other Black students and students of color. When regrouping with them, it’s relieving to know that others have gone through what I’ve gone through, and I don’t have to provide any rationale when sharing my experiences. I know that there will always be ignorance in my path, but through advocacy and finding my voice, I’ve become more equipped to manage these issues.

HCXO, Taylor

Taylor Green

Millersville '23

Hi, my name is Taylor Green. I'm class of 2023 at Millersville and I'm a Digital Journalism Major and a Strategic Public Relations Minor. I enjoy shopping and listening to music and anything from the early 2000s.
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