I really thought I was in the twilight zone. On top of being broke, with no plan for paying my rent beyond month one, I was expected to pay for printing on campus, pay my way to present at conferences, pay to breathe HBCU air, and pay to die if I decided this was all too overwhelming.
Yet somehow this school full of my so-called brethren is completely okay with this.
I’ve always dreamed of pursuing graduate education at an HBCU,
When my time at my PWI in undergrad started to drive me crazy, I spent my senior year at an HBCU as part of a National Exchange program, so I could escape the campus. From then I knew for sure that an HBCU for graduate school would be my goal… until it was time to find one that fit my interests and I couldn’t find a Black Studies program within HBCU walls. I continued at my undergraduate institution for my MA, for reasons including finances and familiarity. Skipping a dramatic series of events that was the PhD application process, I now find myself at an HBCU, one that is offering me the opportunity to study what I’ve been wanting to.
Moved everything to Atlanta, blew my last of a pot of savings to secure a place to live, broke as all fuck with no job and no prospects. (Seriously, Macy’s out here wouldn’t hire me. Wanted me to have open availability for a 20hr/week position.) Lastly, I was miserable. I hated Atlanta in comparison to NYC. Didn’t get what I expected. Moreover, I was too broke to try and enjoy it anyway, since there’s almost nothing to do that won’t cost you money. I thought I’d experienced depression before, but I literally had seen nothing yet.
My job at Sears lasted 3 weeks. That lady looked me in my face during the interview and said $8.50, and I knew it was about to be some shit. Worst job I’ve had to date. On Day 2 they wanted to know why I didn’t collect enough email addresses. Then woe unto me when my store manager saw my copy of Still Brave next to me at the register.
This is what I mean by Boujee
I’m going to interject something really ridiculous here. I was mad could no longer afford brunch. Yea, so I totally understand how this makes me sound. But seriously, I’m sitting in the land of black people who brunch at every opportunity and I couldn’t even join in on the festivities (Atl has GREAT brunch spots). Good ole fried up chicken and red velvet waffles with 2 hours of mimosas just rejuvenates the spirit. Yet, here I was watching the pics from lit brunches on Instagram salivating and sober.
But to get back to the point: Something really gnawed at me about this whole experience. We, black students, were starving and penniless and no one seemed to care. I can tell you that I’m not the only one who has experienced this at this school. It seemed as if faculty and staff had gotten so used to “no we can’t help you”, they enjoyed it. Out here living below the poverty line trying to pay rent, eat, and have a fuck left to give about Black feminist frameworks.
SURELY, my HBCU couldn’t really be wanting to see me fail. Surely, these people with PhDs could not seriously expect me to write a dissertation hungry, homeless, and crazy. In short, a lack of support is why I’m leaving this HBCU…
Part 2: “All the Blacks are men”