No shock? No sweat? No rapid heartbeat?
Standing in the sand dunes (now grass) of Paddyfote with my life packed in cardboard boxes, I was only one among so many other freshmen. One among so many other recent high school grads. As well as one among so many other-black people?
Boy was I color struck.
Yet, not in the traditional sense of preferring one brown skin complexion over the other, but in wonder of the many surrounding me.
Far from the “Oreo-Syndrome” in grade school, I was a young sister carrying a super-sized “black bag.” In elementary school, my mom called me her little Barbara Jordan. By the time I hit high school, my aunt had dubbed me Sista Souljah while I was beginning to familiarize myself with Cheikh Anta Diop.
But in spite of all that, I never had any tangible ties to the black community.
Like a lot of students at FAMU, I lived in a predominately Southern white community, and therefore, was the product of a mostly white public school district. In those instances, you’re either comfortable with blending in or used to wearing your blackness like a badge. This meant only one thing. I had never been surrounded by throngs of folks who looked just like me.
So until the fall semester of 2000, I was sure that my ability to adjust from that extreme to this would be a tough one. As ironic as it sounds, it would suffice to say that I expected to go through some sort of culture shock.
I was amazingly wrong.
My first few weeks in Tallahassee were more surreal than difficult when compared to life back home. Although it took some getting used to no longer being the only black person in a classroom, organization or competition, I was at ease. Everyone was here to speak for themselves. And they did.
Moreover, my name was no longer synonymous with “the-black-girl.”
So when asked by an obviously lost freshman looking for the Grand Ballroom earlier this semester, “What did you think of FAMU when you first got here?”
I simply told him the truth.
“I felt like I was at home for the first time.”
Monica Harden is a senior magazine production student from Hockley, Texas She is the deputy opinions editor for The Famuan. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.