I am proud of me. I sit back and see all that has come from the last four years of college, and I want to take a moment to congratulate me. In the following haiku I will write for me, I will likely be vague, speak in grandiose and soothing metaphors, but I will understand me – and that is enough.
In the likes of uncle snoop, I want to thank me
You did that, held it together when everything in your being
Said fuck it
You loved me when all you wanted to do was forget and go to sleep
Even at this moment, as you type this much deserved declaration of love
You have butterflies in your belly you are doing your best to mask for cold shivers
You are nervous, anxious like you used to get before meets
You were never good at track, but you kept going back because you did not want to quit
Know your limits, you know your limits, test your limits
When you fail, because that is possible, learn from it
When I was a senior in high school and my classmates were buzzing with excitement about the universities they were applying to and the college life they wanted to experience, I was simply content knowing I was going to go to college. I did not care too much for the school decision process itself. Honestly, I wanted someone to tell me the best school they thought I should apply for, and that would be it.
As a college senior – two weeks out from graduation – I feel happy in saying my nonchalant decision to attend my specific university turned out for the best. While I do not condemn my younger self for the way in which I went about planning my post-high school life, I fear I am repeating my old habits of self-containment.
Self-containment, as in, limiting my own possibilities and potential through self-sabotaging behavior. At the root of it, it has to do with insecurity. I do not want to be denied, rejected, deferred, fired, expelled, mocked, ostracized, second-placed, shamed, humiliated, forgotten.
But when I am focused, when I am studying, or busily typing away at my computer, there is nothing like that feeling. I know I am great, because I put in the work.
It is in this vain of putting in the work, that this Spring 2019 semester I have been working on a archival project entitled Resisting Black Erasure, for a Communications 491 Individual Study (IS), advised by Ms. Martha Burtis of the Digital Knowledge Center.
I chose to title the IS Resisting Black Erasure, because my semester long work is an exploration of the ways in which the presence and lived experience of Black people is erased. It is also an active attempt to resist this erasure by creating content that accounts for and celebrates Blackness. Specifically, I have been capturing the narratives of Black people at the University through several mediums: photography, podcast, video, and articles. In addition to this profile of myself, I profiled Dr. Simpkins, and created a website for the UMW Social Justice and Leadership Summit.
My particular interest in this project comes from the fact that I am a Black University of Mary Washington student who wants to see myself photographed around campus, and wants my very particular narrative to be recorded and archived. However, with this desire comes the hesitation that I will be a tokenized figure for an institution whose lack of diversity in its student body and faculty demographics I do not support. It is with this passion in mind, my background in race theory, and my familiarity with digital tools that I decided to take the initiative and be the archivist.
This project has been a very fulfilling one. It took a lot of time and creativity to do, but once it was done, I knew the content was worth the hard work.
I guess part of why I am writing this very long thank you note, is so that I don’t forget that practice is part of creating perfection. I want to continue to enjoy the process of challenging myself, even when it feels like completion is too far away. It is never too far way. And even if it’s far, very, very far away, GET IT DONE.
I thank me for my role as a student leader on campus, I thank me for being a mentor, I thank me for keeping our memories as Black people at the University of Mary Washington alive.