Being Black Is Where It’s At
By: Skyler Rowe
As we wrap up the spring semester, turn in our final assignments, try on
our caps and gowns and send in our job applications, let us take the time to
reflect over this semester and the last 4 years of our college experience.
For some, you’re the first in your family to graduate college. For others,
you’re continuing the legacy of bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees.
Entering college as a freshman is an experience that channels mixed
emotions. You’re anxious to meet your new roommate, make new friends,
network, and most of all be free from your parents. You enjoy the thrill of
not having a curfew and sneaking your friends into your same-sex dorm room.
The idea of making your own decisions and relying on yourself makes you
feel grown. You sit in your first class thinking that you have plenty of
time and these next four years are going to drag by. Then suddenly you’re a
senior, who’s goals have changed, mentality has grown and wouldn’t even
recognize the person you were 4 years ago if they bumped into you in the
For most, you’ve just finished college and you’re thinking, now what? After
all the late night studying, cramming for exams, being at a parties thinking
“damn, that assignment was due tonight”, and making memories with the
people you’ll never forget. Now that it is all said and done, what next?
Pursue another degree? Take a break to figure things out? Or enter
immediately into your career? Sometimes the anxiety of not having a
government job or immediately finding your “dream career” can get the best
of you. Something I remind myself daily of, is that I don’t have to have all of
the answers right now and my accomplishments thus far are already
Attending an HBCU has taught me to always acknowledge my accomplishments no
matter the quantity and to embrace and celebrate my culture. The
experience’s I’ve encountered at my HBCU (The University of Maryland
Eastern Shore) I would have never been able to experience at a PWI. There’s
something about attending a school where everybody looks like you that just
inspires you to want to succeed. From having strong Black teachers and
mentors who want you to succeed even after you graduate, to celebrating our
culture at house parties and “swag surfing” at showcases, to watching my
prideful black peers stroll and step with their fellow Greeks. Walking
amongst black students who have started business at a young age, who aren’t
afraid to promote their brand throughout the campus and have the courage to
put themselves out there for the world to embrace gives me the motivation
to work hard and perfect my craft. I don’t look at them as my competitors
but more so as my teammates. As Black people, we have to instill in ourselves
that we are all running the same race. In order to succeed and receive
blessings, we have to support our peers.
For the past two semesters, I have sang with the gospel choir at my school.
This is one of my best experiences at UMES. For the first time in my
college experience, I felt as if I could truly be myself. I wasn’t afraid
to cry when I felt the spirit or scream “Halleluiah” when my heart was
heavy. The gospel choir helped me to stay spiritually connected while in
school. I was allowed to embrace my culture through song and dance
unapologetically and without judgement. Watching the audience sing and
praise with us as we performed at concerts united us a whole. Attending a
school that allows you to freely be who you are, also helps to mold you
into the person you can be. My HBCU has taught me to be a strong, God
fearing, independent women. Witnessing black men and women walk the stage
to receive their masters and doctorate degree was one of the most
inspirational things ever. I say that not only out of pride, but out of
assurance that, that could be me in a few years.
Despite the negative connotations of us through the media and social
networks, being Black is where its at! We’re presidents of colleges,
entrepreneurs, frats and sorrors, producers, authors and bloggers. We
overcome adversities and set our own boundaries. According to society, we
aren’t suppose to make it, yet everyday we surpass adversity. Black
excellence is a term that goes far beyond academics. It a way of life. Its
daring to step out of your comfort zone to pursue your dreams, its pushing
yourself to achieve goals you thought were unobtainable, its being able to
build yourself up without brining others down and its doing your own thing
unapologetically and without validation for others. Young people, don’t
aspire to work for that government job, create your own. Although school
teaches you to solve linear equations and depict lines from your textbook.
It also teaches you to be inspired by your peers and find the motivation to
want to make something of yourself. You may not know the answers right at
this moment but you are on the right path. Graduating college is only the
first step, never limit yourself or your abilities. From now, your path
depends on you.