Dear Black Women at SMU,
Repressed memories came up as I read the racist sentiments of some of the women at your institution, which in essence stated that Black women weren’t: smart, rich, or pretty enough to be in white sororities. For readers who are unaware of this sorority scandal, you can read the full story here. As I scrolled through the hateful comments, I thought about my own undergraduate experience at a predominately all-white women’s college. As a black woman coming from a severely low-income background, I wasn’t prepared to feel so utterly isolated. Although I was accepted under a merit-based scholarship, I felt like I was an intruder, like the institution had thrown me a bone by accepting me. I was surrounded by women in pearls and polo shirts, who played lacrosse, equestrian, and participated in weekly afternoon teas. I was a stranger in a strange land.
Never before had I needed black sisterhood more than in my college years. There were racial lines that didn’t need to be verbalized. I saw them when I looked at the overwhelming number of young black women who served food in the dining rooms for their work study assignments. I saw them when I felt invisible in the dining hall on an unlucky day when I couldn’t find a welcoming face of color. I saw them when my classmates dressed in blackface on Halloween. I inherently knew to be wary and watchful of my social interactions with my white counterparts because there were lines; silent, yet screaming. I had a choice to make: Surrender my proud black identity, assimilate into white, mainstream culture and silence my voice, or find other women navigating this hostile terrain and build sisterhood. I chose the latter. Without black sisterhood, I don’t think I would have made it. My self-destructive thoughts of wondering if I was intelligent or deserving enough was exhausting and I needed people who understood.
To the black women at Southern Methodist University, I and many others are with you. Find sisterhood among yourselves, you will save each other. Don’t second guess your intelligence; you are entitled to be at the table, sitting proudly and serving no one. Don’t second guess your beauty; you are radiant. Don’t spend your time bending yourselves finding white sisterhood, find strength and solace in your own.
Featured Image: Photo Credit Joel G Mwakasege Jr. /CC