Being A Millennial Black College Student Is Hard Enough Without The Labels

Being A Millennial Black College Student Is Hard Enough Without The Labels

The damaging portrayal of black students doesn't make it easy for us.

As my senior year of high school rolled around, I became more and more afraid of what was to come. I didn’t have parents pressuring me to apply to an HBCU and I also didn’t have any prohibiting me from that. The decision was entirely up to me and that scared me. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself if and when it all went wrong.

My unsureness about my identity was the main culprit.

I’ve never considered myself anything other than black and never doubted it until I started high school. Since middle school, my darker complexion was always the butt of everyone’s jokes but never had I questioned my blackness before.

It was in high school that I started hearing “you speak white,” “you listen to white people music” and “oreo” when used to refer to me. After being told by my own that I didn’t fit in with them in much harsher words than how I’ve put it, I started to believe it.

So, when it came time to apply to colleges, an HBCU didn’t even feel like an option for me. The image of HBCUs that we always expected was that of the students of Hillman College in “A Different World.” Though all the students had different personalities and majors, they were all still “black enough.”

The portrayal of black students at HBCUs in the media today show them as students that work hard and get 4.0s by day and still manage to party and get lit like no one else by night while handling their upcoming businesses on the side. This image is a lie and a harmful one at that. It damages how black HBCU students are viewed and is harmful to young black students (like me) trying to find where they fit.

There are students that struggle in college regardless of getting into one of the top, there are those who are not for the party life, there are those who listened to music other than old school and 90s r&b and trap all day despite popular belief.

There are students like me.

In fact, there are students like everyone. We are not all the same and the media has lumped us all together for so long that we actually started to believe we couldn’t be anything other than what they told us and everyone else we had to be.

Race is only one part of identity, and yet, it is the one that matters most to the media, and that cannot continue.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.


"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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14 Honest College Things The Class Of 2023 Needs To Know ~Before~ Fall Semester

Sit down, be humble.


To The Class of 2023,

Before you start your college career, please know:

1. Nobody...and I mean nobody gives a shit about your AP Calculus scores.


" I got a 5 in Calc AB AND BC, a 5 in AP Literature, awh but I only got a 4 in AP Chem"

2. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUR SAT/ACT SCORES + nobody will know what you're talking about because they changed the test like 10 times since.


3. College 8 AMs are not the same as your 0 period orchestra class in 12th grade.


4. You're going to get rejected from a lot of clubs and that does not make you a failure.


5. If you do get into your clubs, make sure not to overwhelm or overcommit yourself.

visual representation of what it looks like when you join too many clubs


6. It's OK to realize that you don't want to be pre-med or you want to change majors.


7. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you at something but that doesn't mean you're behind.


8. "I'm a freshman but sophomore standin-" No, you don't have to clarify that, you'll sound like an asshole.


9. You may get your first ever B-, C+ or even D OR EVEN A W in your life. College is meant to teach you how to cope with failure.


10. Go beyond your comfort zone. Join a theatre club if you're afraid of public speaking. Join an animal rescue club if you're afraid of animals. College is learning more about yourself.


11. Scholarships do exist. APPLY APPLY APPLY.


12. Don't try to brag about all the stuff you did in high school, you'll just sound like a weenie hut jr. scout


13. Understand and be sensitive to the fact that everybody around you has a different experience and story of getting to university.


14. You're going to be exposed to people with different opinions and views, don't fight them. Instead, try to explain your perspective and listen to their reasoning as well.


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