More than a label, More than a month

I could have sworn that this quarter just began a week ago, let alone Black History Month, yet somehow there are three weeks left before these classes are over. This is my final post on the black history month subject.

But that’s the thing, it isn’t simply a subject to me— just because tycho-atsma-181053.jpgwe spend a month celebrating black heritage doesn’t mean that I am not reminded of who we all are every single day, 365 days a year. I walk around this campus not only underrepresented by the color of my skin, but overwhelmed by this life I hold.

Every day, I am reminded that no matter our race and the history behind our heritage, we are all still human.

Yesterday, I spent my typical Thursday night working on chemistry and studying with Nick in the common room of my dorm. Even after everyone left, we hung out for a while just talking and somehow, we ended up on the broad spectrum of life.

Why do we live our lives the way we do?

Is it always going to be simply one step to the next?

After 12 years of education to get into college, do we work through college to get a job, before working that job to pay the bills and finally, raising our own children until it’s their turn?

Are we going to look back one day and realize that we forgot to live?

anders-jilden-87205.jpgEven more than representing Cal Poly, more than what people see in the color of our skin, it seems that what we get out of this life comes down to how we want to live it— how we live it, and for what. We all have a certain amount of control on how things turn out for us, just take a look at my blog post last week… I could be an English major, Kinesiology major, or something else entirely. The future is a story yet to be written.

So why does it feel like some of us already know what’s coming?

I’ve been told that the problem with our generation, universally across each of us, is that we are always rushing from one thing to the next that we never take a moment to breathe it all in. This is life isn’t it? I have to admit, amidst the midterms and the planning, it takes me a minute to remember that we only have so much time in the day to appreciate the fact that I saw the sun rise in the morning. This is a beautiful life; one the we just might let slip through our fingers if we’re not careful.

Have you ever looked at a friend or a family member for a quick second and found yourself caught in a moment of appreciation for who they are to you? I know I’ve found myself doing that a lot more lately, like seeing my parents this last weekend or even just hanging out with Nick last night. Even though this campus is primarily white, somehow my closest group of friends is one of the most diverse groups of people I have ever consistently been around. Some days I catch myself looking from one of them to the next and wondering, what does it mean to be who you are?

wil-stewart-7771Though I may be so much more than my skin tone, it is still something that will define me and every single one of us for the rest of our lives. The month of February represents a large part of who I am, but that does not mean that this is the only time of year our heritage is recognized. It’s like a birthday or even Valentine’s Day— just because there is separate day of the year to celebrate something does not mean that you show any less love to those people for the other 364 days of the year.

A person’s pigmentation is more than a label or a stereotype.

Heritage celebration is so much more than a single month of remembering the Martin Luther King’s or the Harriet Tubman’s of our past.

Who we are and the lives that we strive for come down to what is in our hearts and what we do with the intelligence we hold to make this world into something better.

Life is about improvement, accomplishment… The little victories I know we can all achieve.  

Take a look in the mirror for me, look past the colors you see or the texture of your hair. Tell me one thing: did you find a way to live this life today? I don’t mean going to work, or to class, or simply getting out of bed this morning… Did you live this life today?anja-137284

Because with everything else that you see in yourself or what others see in my generation, I would like to believe in something more. I would like to believe that things can change, the pace of this world can be something worth living in every day, and that color of my skin can be something more than a visual representation of everything I know I can be.

P.S. To the Class of 2017, I’ve got another post for you next week so be on the lookout for a little advice on college, graduation, and everything in between!

Time for Change

Think of the words black excellence and what comes to mind? Maybe it makes you think about my blog post last week or the poem I posted on Monday. Or at Howard University, it not only defines the pride of the student body, but also the truth of how excellent each and every student there is, from their academics to their talents. But what does it mean here at Cal Poly?

What does it mean for me?mountain beauty.jpg

Here at Cal Poly, as 1/240, the words black excellence mean representation. Sitting in my cultural Kinesiology class on Monday, we did an exercise on privilege throughout the classes demographic. The rules were simple: Take a look at the list in front of you, from not hearing racial slurs towards you to living as a majority, and add one for each that fits, subtract one for each that does not. As my class went outside and demonstrated out numbers by stepping off of a line together, the gap in our equality was unmistakable.

I took 15 steps back. The one person that far back with me? The only other African American in my class.

This is what I don’t think we emphasize enough here at Cal Poly. We are told to celebrate our similarities in that we are all here and getting a good education, but what about our differences? What about the things that make each and every one of us unique? This campus claims to be diverse, but I only see that in the sexuality of its student body. We are still a majority white campus, not to say this campus isn’t full of brilliant minds, but it’s hard to look around and know that I can count the number of black people from all of my classes this year on one hand.perilice road.jpg

There is something missing.

I believe in the beauty of diversity, of all different people from different backgrounds and different cultures striving to come together and create a better future in this world. There is something so different about a group of people who all think differently or have experienced a seperate lifestyle from one another— the ideas that can come out of a group like that, it just might change the world.

Yet I don’t know when that kind of change will happen, not when there are only 240 of us here to attempt that change at such a well reputable University. We can’t do this on our own, nevertheless it seems that nothing is changing. What about the rest of the brilliant minds who never got the chance to go to college? Or those caught up in the trials of life, too busy taking care of families and getting food on the table to even consider going back to school? We all come from different walks of life, different cultures, ethnicities, and opportunities. In a school where we take pride in our “diversity” and a world where it seems we will become the change that generations have been waiting for, I have to wonder what kind of difference we can possibly make when everyone is on the same page only because the majority is writing the book.

There has to be more than this.

In a world where tomorrow seems like it is in our hands, yet so far away at the same time, this idea leaves me restless in wondering what is to come. I can only hope it will be a brighter future than any one of us could imagine. In a quote by Maya Angelsplitshire-7553ou, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” This world is one of beauty, from both the people in it to the capabilities we all hold. Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to change this world we live in. Maybe if we’re lucky, if we can play our cards right, the words black excellence can mean more than a minority here at Cal Poly.