When the Visible are (somehow) still Invisible: Intersectionality, feminism and identity on an HBCU Campus

I will rep my HBCU ’til I die. Even through the surly old ladies in every damn department, and ubiquitous #HBCUExperience of swag surfing in the gym/cafe/quad/everywhere, my HBCU will always be my HBCU.

My HBCU was the place I settled into my third phase of blackness: unapologetic, without explanation and comfort. Four years of not having to explain a god damn thing about my hair, skin, culture or daily food eats. T’was a feeling as beautiful as freshly fried chicken being gingerly placed on top of a crisp waffle, or the sound of Henny being poured (down a drain, where it belongs).

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Me, all 4 years.

Yet, as I continue to rep my HBCU from the lens of an alumna, my HBCU did not always feel like my HBCU. As a campus that was 87% women when I enrolled in the Fall of 2011 (current figure is at 73% women, so shoutout to my strong brothas for enrolling), my HBCU was still very mired in the gaze, politics and decisions of men. Even when literally surrounded by women of the same skin, fresh-faced ideals, and vision, I quickly realized that my HBCU wasn’t really mine. How can my HBCU be “my HBCU” when the core of my identity was not addressed?

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When #TravelingWhileBlack meets #AmericanPrivilege: addressing privilege as the historically under-privileged + disenfranchised

For decades, international travel has been thought as not being filled with many black faces: it is based in the idea that we (e.g. us Negros) just don’t travel. Of course, we can all pull out our passports, airline points and cheesy vacation photos to call bullshit on such a dated, microaggression-level stereotype. Alas, a stereotype would not be a stereotype if it did not contain a kernel of truth that amasses into a larger, more complex popcorn analogy thing.

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Obviously, I suck at analogies and shiet. Stick with me, this is going somewhere.

The privilege of international travel has been largely associated with wealth, luxury, accessibility and privilege. These buzzwords are associated with Western, “developed” nations, where the denizens of these countries tend to have the socioeconomic and freedom to travel abroad. But again, this is dependent on access: expendable wealth (disposable income), freedoms and privileges will morph together to form an avenue for one to access this phenomenon called international travel.

In terms of us traveling, we’ve condensed statements such as “Black people don’t travel” from a melange of socio-cultural factors that dictate when, where and if travel can even take place. Past national and regional studies confirm that factors, such as poverty, income, and fear of discrimination can impact travel efforts, which may continue to effect the amounts of Black travelers in comparison to our NBPOC and White peers.

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#RihannaCarnivalVibes : A very American guide to playing mas in St. Croix

Yeah, so for the record, this experience is almost an anomaly. Usually, I go on vacation to be on my non-basic tip: soak and actually learn about the culture, be one with the people and just relax. This trip was like, the opposite, because I spent almost every day somewhere on the Drunk Creolepatra™ spectrum. 

In my defense, this was a “girl’s trip”, where our purpose was singular and simple: fête, turn up, and drink away our feelings about returning for another semester of grad school. Whomp whomp whomppp.

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Well, the official purpose was participating in St. Croix’s annual carnival, better known as the Crucian Christmas Carnival. My best friend’s roommate is a native of St. Croix, and convinced us American gyals to participate in the parade. Although I questioned how if this would be percieved as cultural appropriation, I was informed and educated on carnival. Living in New Orleans, I had a fair idea about carnival through Mardi Gras. 

Carnival is the synecretism of West African and Catholic religious beliefs, the miscegenation of the beliefs and traditions our West African and Indigenous American ancestors subverted and blended when forced to subscribe to the dominant European religious values. Deriving from an old tradition of celebrating the “twelve days of Christmas”, the carnival lasts like all throughout the month of December and leads up to January 7th, or Epiphany, the last day of Christmas season. Courtesy of St. Croix’s tourism page, here’s a better description:

 The Carnival parades are the highlight of Crucian Christmas Carnival, and the last official events of the Carnival festivities. A beautiful display of Crucian culture, the parades feature troupes dancing through the streets all day long wearing beautifully hand crafted, vibrant, feathery costumes. From majorettes to moko jumbies, steel pan bands to fire dancers, the parades offer a unique chance for spectators to experience the magic, traditions, and cultural heritage of St. Croix.

Long story short, I came to this beautiful ol’ island to participate in the Adult Parade, which was on the very last day. Everything else was just kinda #gowiththeflow #vibes, because there were 10 of us in the group, and we all just wanted to chill. But whether you come to participate in the festivities, or just watch ’em, St. Croix is a gorgeous destination.

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The ish they don’t tell you about traveling while poor & in school: some tips, realities + rants

“How do I travel as a broke betch student?” is probably one of the most Google’d questions, probably ranked somewhere between “Beyoncé twin baby pics” and “Fever cough…am I dying?”. And there are plenty of resources with amazing tips and travel hacks. I mean, some are awesome suggestions for young folks, but I think many of them aren’t…plausible. Many of them are along the lines of the “get up and go” fantasy that so many people try to perpetuate about traveling: sometimes it is not as easy as dropping everything you worked hard for to work and travel in a different country. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with participating in the peace corps, joining the military, teaching English abroad or taking a job offer abroad, do realize that these options may no be for everyone. To me, they are inexpensive, ‘easy’ options, but require freedom and the right opportunity. E.g. things not everyone has access to right at this moment.

And lettuce be honest: what black parent that you know is gonna be gung-ho about their fresh out of high-school child going off to be an au-pair in some foreign country? I know my mom had a quick mental montage of scenes from Taken 2 when I brought it up as a potential summer plan that one faithful summer.

parenting on 100*cries in child of strict black mother*


Anyway, I have a few thoughts, general tips and rants about #brokegirlprobs that get easily glossed over when we talk about travel. People believe travel is just as easy as 1-2-3-Go Quit Your Job & Backpack through Europe. However, for some people, it is not as easy as that. These are some things I learned the hard way about traveling, specifically dealing with finances.

help me i'm poor

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