I grew up in Trenton, New Jersey where about 50 percent of the population is Black. For all I knew it was just Black. Not Haitian, Jamaican, etc.…just Black. The other 50 percent were Hispanic. Not Puerto Rican, Dominican. etc.…just Hispanic. In Trenton there is only ONE high school. It’s the same high school my mom went to; my aunts went to, etc. The population of Blacks and Hispanics were about the same in the high school as the city and even divide of families living well below the poverty line and some fortunate enough to just make it over. This was my whole life. Growing up in Trenton, NJ from little black kids in elementary school to middle school to high school I was just Black. Trenton was Black. So naturally by the time I got to my senior year in high school all of my teachers and some guidance counselors who were Black and Greek pressed for me to go to a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). So I applied. I applied to Howard University, Shaw University and Elizabeth City State University, but none of them were where I really wanted to go because honestly with my mindset at that time I was tired of being surrounded by Black people all the time. My rationale was that I wanted more diversity in my life. I wanted to experience other cultures like some of the stories I’ve heard. You know the stories where high school alumni come back and speak to the graduating seniors and share stories of how spent their spring break overseas in someplace like India or China with a roommate’s family. I decided I wasn’t going to go to an HBCU. My parents didn’t really care since neither of them went to college. They just wanted me to go to college, didn’t matter which one as long as we could afford it. Aside from the fact that so many people were advocating for me to attend an HBCU, I found it ironic that I got the most money in financial aid from PWI’s.
So in August of 2007 I packed my bags and travelled about 60 miles to Rutgers University…in Newark, New Jersey. It was there where I developed Black pride. It was at this PWI University where I learned how to appreciate the different threads of blackness, the different threads of being Hispanic, the different threads of being Asian. I learned that people were more than just Black or Hispanic or Asian. There were some serious levels to this shit called diversity. There was a Haitian Student Association, A West Indian Student Association, A Black Student Organization, Organization of African Students, Filipino Student Association and South Asian Student Group, the list went on! I was so in love with the amount of race, nationality, and religion pride taking place that I wanted to be a part of it so bad. I wanted to learn more about being Black and all its intricacies. I wanted to learn about the Africans, the Haitians, and my people! There was a sense of pride and unity that developed amongst the black students and I was a part of CREATING and NURTURING that culture on my campus. I loved attending Rutgers and I learned so much about myself culturally and others that I don’t believe I would have gotten at an HBCU, but that’s just my perspective. Furthermore, a good population of my graduating class that went off to HBCUs found themselves back at state college or community college after their first year due to their inability to afford high tuition.