Concerned Student 1950 (opted to stay anonymous)
I’m sick and tired of professors trying to shut me up. Who the hell do you think you are? You want me to choke on my freedom of speech? You want to seize my right to life? Where they have me on my back, begging with my very last breath. I don’t need your permission to live, though. Times have changed. We are no longer your slaves, we are your teachers. Here to educate you on things your light blue eyes refuse to teach us. Might as well get comfortable.
You won’t be dismissed until freedom rings. Now sit. Let’s talk about how you have the nerve to teach me about civility when you barely believe in my right to civil liberties. You make me sick, the kind those doctorate degrees never taught you how to fix. But I have no fear.
Today I am your professor and I will be heard with actions louder than words. I profess my oppression. I profess your privilege. Shine light on your sins, make you beg for forgiveness, but even Jesus sees the horns on your heart. November 9th, 2015, Supreme Court says “shoot first, think later.”
You spent decades excusing yourself from indecent conversation, as if my desire to live disgusts you. Today you will listen. So long as my heart beats, and my blood is red, I have the right to life that the Ku Klux Klan will never take from me without a fight. Because of you, my grandmother is scared shitless all from concern for my wellbeing and praying to god that I make it home for christmas. All because I have a love for fitness. I like to exercise my constitutional rights. If your constitution will not protect me, my bare arms will. And if you think you’re going to shoot first, go on and write your will.
Rosie Brown – junior journalism major
How Superman taught me to fear the dark.
Do you remember the see-saw across from your house? How it always used to go up down up down up down? Do you remember how it felt to sit on that see-saw, with your long, spindly, no longer a boy, but still not a man, legs, anchored to the ground, so I wouldn’t fly away when you pushed up down up down up down up down? Me, just a tantalizing few weeks away from the big one oh, double digits. A whole decade on the planet, and the baby teeth and the scraped up knees to show for it. Me, the prodigal child come home, the blood of the Americas mixed with grim and grit of home, I didn’t know.
I met superman that summer, flying the streets. You were the wind at my back. You were the forgotten, the lost, the one who couldn’t get out, dreaming of beat up Cadillacs and.. to ignore the fact that poverty was average. Maybe that’s why that night happened. Why that night, you became the sodom hand of God, and I, Icarus. I flew too high. I was too small to push it off. I let it happen, because superman would never hurt little slaves, right? You bled my blood. You, my hero, violator, instigator, liar. You, you, you up down. Up down. Up down.
I still think of you whenever a cadillac drives by, or when a 50 Cent song plays.
Your mother sold that house years ago, and Facebook says you’re doing okay. But whenever I remember that night, superman’s cape like a burial shroud, my mind will always go up down up down up down up down
Javon Goard – video gaming research student
- The following poem was inspired by Roger Bonair’s “How The Ghetto Loves Us Back.”
This is how college loves us back.
He is 6-foot-1 with a shaped up afro, top of his class, not allowing his environment to hold him back. Back on the ground if you do not dodge that stray bullet. He walks out of the gym, as now his T-shirt is a second skin, sweat glistening down his body with voices screaming “are those abs real?” Working out men stare along with a beastly hunger, no longer a student of color, but a bronze Adonis. Brains and intelligence are still cherished, just as long as that 6 pack comes with it, and this is how college loves us back.
Next is a young woman who strives for excellence. Excellence within her own academic space, though her body tells a different story. Her body endowed with curves that others deem “unkindly.” Unkindly for her waist is that of a plastic barbie doll. A doll who’s identity is shaped by male egoism and capitalism. She looks into a mirror, suppresses her anger, she looks in the mirror of self-ridicule, of hate and shame, though she knows she can’t cry. Her crying brings an echolocation for more ridicule from her so-called friends, and this is how college loves us back.
And across campus, walks a student, drenched in their own privilege, only wondering where they should shop next: louis vuitton, or coach? Only wondering where they should eat next: Ramsey’s, or Wolfgangs? But, for them, they’re only wondering why they have no friends of color. For them, it only means italian, asian restaurants are being built across the street. Their own privilege suppresses what they believe, where “ALL lives matter” is the number one answer and survey says, oooh, one point. O’ Malley must have been part of the survey. Contemplating their existence in the grand scheme of it all. Contemplating why other lives are harder than theirs, and wondering if they are part of the problem?
But now, we go back to the brother, who has several potential baby momma’s, gazing with lustful eyes. But he is quite used to it. He just wants the madness to stop. Tired of the poking and prodding of his hair, instead of the reinforcement of knowledge. No matter the grief or accomplishments, there is always work to be done. Work in building self-esteem and self-confidence is cast aside for skinny waistlines, thigh gaps, and struggle. America features and struggle. Beauty and struggle. Love thyself and struggle. Wondering if they will ever love me, if I do not change this about myself, and struggle? And struggle, and struggle, and struggle, and struggle. But this is how it goes here in academic spaces, now that we know the system twists our sensibilities. This is how it feels, this is how it smells, this is how it tastes. This is how college loves us back.
Trey – sophomore
I wish I was white.
I wish I was white so I could comb my hair every morning that I wake. I wish I was white so I could grab my bagged lunch as I ran for the school bus every morning. I wish I was white so that my only problem in school would be being bullied by a freckle-faced kid. I wish I was white so that I could tell my father “I want to be like you when I grow up.”
I wish I was white so I could have a father. I wish, I wish, I wish I was white so that sweat wouldn’t smudge the ink on my pages as I wrote on 90 degree days. I wish I was white so my reality would be the fantasies that I wrote, and my current reality would be the fantasy. I wish I was white so I could get credit for what I’ve done, or what I will do. I wish I was white so I could protest and not be called a savage. I wish I was white so the TSA didn’t have to double check my baggage.
I wish I was white so that I could wear hoodies and not be considered a suspect. I wish I was white so holding a weapon to the neighbor across from me would be to protect and not to murder. I wish I was white so once again, I would get credit for what I’ve done and what I will do. But, I’m happy that wishes don’t come true because if they did, I would be 12 feet tall with rockets in my shoes and apricot skin and eyes bright blue. And then I would ask myself, who are you? Because no stories would be told in my apricot skin and in my eyes bright blue.
No memories would swim with them and my burns wouldn’t be shown through straight blond hair and my narrow shoulders wouldn’t show the struggle that I bear. I am the darkness that soothes a baby to sleep. I am the coal from which diamonds are made. I am the fertile soil from which all life begins. I am what you see 15,360 times a day when you blink. I am the ink that brings a paper to life. I am steel, melted by the african sun, molded by slavery and forged by oppression. I am black.
Featured Photo Credit: Javon Goard, a video gaming research student. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Julia Lerner is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.