Look Down

The truth is, I never felt like I belonged at the University of Arkansas...

As I sit here writing, I am remembering how I spent years walking across campus looking at my feet. I didn't feel like I belonged. I could walk from one side of the campus to the other and not see anyone that looked like me. I felt alone. Then I would be expected to come to class and contribute like everyone else, but the truth is that walking to class was traumatic. Every day having to pass by hundreds of faces that started to look alike, I was worn down. It was so often that passing people would not courteously give me room on the sidewalk, that I just learned to step off of the side to let them pass. While the campus can become quite populated, the times that really hurt the most were when it was maybe 2 or 3 people, usually white girls, that would take up the entire sidewalk and act like I wasn't even there.

Anyone who knows the university, knows that greek life is abnormally present on campus. Our campus now has some of the largest fraternity and sorority "houses" (they are really mansions, manors...) in COUNTRY. Give it a google search. Two of the top five largest houses are right on this campus. While I would love to go through the long history of the U.S. that give these houses the same grandeur of plantation houses...that is not why I am here. I remember my freshman year, I had to walk either right next to the SAE house and possibly see a group of them playing basketball within talking distance, or I could walk down fraternity row and see all of them...and also have a longer walk to make it to my room. Every time that I walked by the SAE house, I would tense up. It felt like I was intruding and I would actually become frightened. It was around this time that another chapter of SAE at University of Oklahoma had the infamous "never let a nigger in SAE" chant video go viral on the internet.

In order to cope with having to leave my room and be a "normal" college student, I would listen to music. Before I left my room, my headphones were in and my music was planned for the journey. I think I have listened to Beyoncé's 4 and Self-titled hundreds of times. I knew those albums forward and backward because they were what helped me endure the trauma of being BLACK and QUEER on a WHITE CISHET campus.

Look down and say 'Hey, Ms. Carter."


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