What it means to be black at Creek

PRIDE+IN+YOURSELF%3A+For+some+being+a+minority+in+Creek+can+be+challenging.+Of+course+no+two+experiences+are+the+same.+The+above+painting+is+one+in+a+series+by+senior+Mahkeda+Kalayu+in+which+she+celebrates+the+individuality+of+black+youth.+
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What it means to be black at Creek

PRIDE IN YOURSELF: For some being a minority in Creek can be challenging. Of course no two experiences are the same. The above painting is one in a series by senior Mahkeda Kalayu in which she celebrates the individuality of black youth.

PRIDE IN YOURSELF: For some being a minority in Creek can be challenging. Of course no two experiences are the same. The above painting is one in a series by senior Mahkeda Kalayu in which she celebrates the individuality of black youth.

PRIDE IN YOURSELF: For some being a minority in Creek can be challenging. Of course no two experiences are the same. The above painting is one in a series by senior Mahkeda Kalayu in which she celebrates the individuality of black youth.

PRIDE IN YOURSELF: For some being a minority in Creek can be challenging. Of course no two experiences are the same. The above painting is one in a series by senior Mahkeda Kalayu in which she celebrates the individuality of black youth.

Da’nazjah Dorsey and Sara Abbey

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Smile, but not too big or they’ll think you’re a joke

Talk, but not with your slang or they’ll think you’re uneducated

Take classes that’ll make your head hurt and your eyes droop, but they’ll never have a chance to doubt your intelligence.

Being black at Creek means no room for errors when there are only three of you out of twenty-five in a classroom.

Being black at creek means going to a school where the person who sits to your right is the son of lawyers and to the left of you is the daughter of doctors. 

Me? My dad drives a taxi and my mom is a caretaker. I’m not embarrassed. It just goes to show how hard-working of a family I have. But sitting next to those kids who already have one foot in the door to get to Harvard, it makes me feel as if I had a late start to the race. 

And being black at Creek means that you can’t be yourself: a stereotype that everyone is far too familiar with.

Loud mouthed, rude, ignorant, trouble making kid who’ll start a fight at the drop of a hat. I’m constantly tiptoeing around other students, worried that just my appearance itself has already given me a name.

It’s always been a struggle but, being black at Creek has its benefits. For the few of us who are Ethiopian/Eritrean, we become a close knit community where we can speak our language and become comfortable in our own skin. 

It’s the small things like Black Student Union that make you feel a bit more whole when you’re surrounded by people that resemble you just a little bit more. You come into the club and a weight is lifted off your shoulders. No more hiding and fake smiles to others who’ll understand me just a little bit more. We have roles outside of that club, to individually keep up our reputations that we have spent too much time perfecting. 

It does become disappointing though when you walk by each other the next day without a hello. 

Creek has its ups and downs, its expectations and reputations, and definitely its powerful facade to the outside world that we are an inclusive, diverse, and wholesome community but that is unfortunately not the reality. 

We go to a school where conformity is the norm and differences become the outcasts. But I can’t really say much.  

I’m just like everyone else.

 

Growing up I only went to majority white schools until the age of 11. I thought I knew what to expect when I came to Creek from Southaven, Mississippi: a bunch of sissy prissy white people that I would have to change my personality with in order to not seem so “black.”

There are aspects of my upbringing that are what most poeple I talk to consider relative to the black experience, like fighting. 

I was always told, whether you started the fight or not, you better win or when you get home you will be in even more trouble.

This obviously never aligned to what I was taught in school. 

Being split into both these worlds usually would take a toll on me as a child, but not so much now.

 As someone of color who wasn’t thrown into a black environment, I knew exactly how to deal with white people: make some jokes, be myself and over-exaggerate my knowledge on the black culture and I would fit in. 

As for fitting in with the black population, that has not been as easy. While I have noticed the black population at Creek, I haven’t really met or talked to a lot of them. I’m not saying “them” to single out the population, but I’m saying “them” as in a lot seem to hangout and relate to each other and their own experiences.

Most of the time I am too white for the black students and too black for the white students.   

The balance of my identities and my negative and positive experiences in both communities makes it even harder for me to fully identify with my culture. 

It’s the lack of a sense of community that really gets to me. Take that as you may, but a lot of  reek students don’t really like or care for other students and that’s how it is in Creek as a whole. 

I would really enjoy seeing the black community at Creek be more inclusive and caring for one another.

I’d like to see more unity rather than hanging out with their cliques at lunch and avoiding or ignoring any other black kid because they aren’t the same.

Look, only 3% of the Creek population is black, and we’re not all the same. Some of us have unique backgrounds, I came from Mississippi. Some grew up in mostly white schools. Some came from mostly black schools. 

But we should be able to share our experiences with each other and grow together. 

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