Each Sunday, I’m working my way through my experiences with race. I’ll share stories and memories from throughout my life. I know I’ll encounter moments of growth that I wish I could relive. I’ll also have to think back on choices that I wish I could remake. Come join me each week. It’s also day 28 of the Slice of Life challenge.
If you’ve ever worked with high school kids, you’d know that it’s a time of profound drama, often bordering on melodrama. The years are steeped in a quest for self and identity. To a high schooler, it feels isolating and alone – like no other could possibly understand what they are going through.
Adults in the lives of high schoolers know it’s something that EVERYONE goes through.
This is the quirk of high school. It’s also the charm, if you happen to like kids that age.
I was no different. My big quest for individuality had all the major pieces to it: tension with friends, a longing for any semblance of a dating life, pressure to succeed. I was discovering myself, mostly through writing, musical expression, and just plain being a floppy old goof.
And, like absolutely nobody and everybody, I saw college as a fresh start.
It was my time to consider and craft who I wanted to be in this world, and what I wanted to be for myself and for others.
That included my attitude and actions with regard to race. I was hot on the heels of discovering that injustice and inequality was still a problem despite my early learning to the contrary. My high school’s newspaper article on Black English seemed like such a small thing, but it sparked such intense controversy that I knew there had to be more. I just didn’t know what.
So, when I packed my bags for my time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I set my resolve to “unpack” my current belief system where it came to race and identity. I set out for school with the mission to better understand our world and the people in it.
I’m still not there. I think the “there” of understanding is a moving target, just like any ideal should be. But setting off to college with this intention held a key part in shaping who I am now.
I’ll dig in a little deeper next week. See you then.