When I walked onto the college campus, the burden of race fell from my shoulders. It was a palpable sensation. I had not realized the burden I had borne every day; the weight I carried every waking moment – until I stepped onto a black college campus, and the burden of race was suddenly gone. At that moment, I realized I was home. I was safe from outside world of slurs, questions and sideways looks that said, “You don’t belong here.” I was safe from the hate.
I realized that day that hatred was more than a concept. It was an idea made manifest. Hatred is fear, fury and, in many ways, madness made manifest.
But when I was on that campus, I was safe. There, I was allowed to grow. To not just be a black girl, but a young woman growing into herself. On that campus, I blossomed into the woman I was learning to become. On that campus, I could be a person with no labels. For the first time in my life, I was free simply to be me.
Those who have always had the gift of safety, of belonging, may not realize the treasure such kinship truly is. It is not a gift all of us have been granted.
Within the last few weeks, more than 10 Black university and college campuses have been terrorized with bomb threats. These acts are designed to frighten and intimidate students, faculty and staff. Parents are terrified about their children’s safety. Students are forced to interrupt the important work of learning and growing to deal with this hideous invasion of a space where they felt safe. For a people who have been continually hunted – in our homes, our churches, our schools, our sacred places – these threats are not a surprise, but a sickening expression of terrorism that cannot be overlooked.
And yet, in the continual face of intimidation, we are still here. Still, we stand. And still… we stand.