I’m a black woman who attends a PWI and I find it very difficult to get through the day. Knowing more about the system and reading recent stories in headlines left me exhausted. White classmates are delusional to their surroundings. Black classmates (most, not all) are coons and uncle toms, they want to integrate more into the system. I came here to ask for your thoughts on what I’m going through and on the actions I should be taking to avoid and/or eradicate my depressive state. Thank you.

I can relate Sis, somewhat, cuz I know being a Black woman in such a situation has many overlaps with a Black man in that situation, but then there’s the extra burden of Sexism.

I came up in an all Black environment from kindergarten to Jr. High, when I got to high school there were some White kids there, but it was still predominately Black.  My neighborhood was all Black, my Church was all Black, except for that one deacon who had a White wife, where I shopped and socialized was all Black, I took that shit for granted until I was no longer in an all Black or predominately Black environment.

I moved to NYC after high school, and I attended a predominantly White/Jewish school, I was not prepared for that shit; many of the Black people there had came up being the “Only Black,” in their communicates, schools, and social circles.  I had a lot of trouble adjusting.  I, for the first time in my life was grateful for growing up poor, in a housing project cuz when I was finally around Black folks who had enough money to submerge themselves in Whiteness, I saw how damaging it was to Black people. 

I would got to classes and they would say some of the most Racist and inaccurate shit about Black people and the other Black students would just nod in agreement. Then I’d go to the Student Center where I worked the front desk and hear the other student say the most Racist and offensive shit.  That shit blew my mind.  Here I am in NYC, the most liberal and progressive state in the Union, and I’m hearing more Racist shit in one week than I hear my entire childhood growing up in Missouri, I’m listening to immigrants from Eastern Europe, Jewish students, Dominicans, and other groups who just got or who were barley holding on to their White Cards talk shit about Black people, that shit was crazy.  I wasted so much time and energy debating and challenging their Racism and ignorance. 

Thankfully, I was in a city with a vibrant Black culture, I didn’t know anyone when I first moved there so I began to hang out a the Black bookstores and the local cafes owed by Black people.  I went to all the cultural events, the drummer circles, and lectures around town;  I found where the Black community was in my area and got embedded into, I didn’t depend on my school.  “Schools can provide us training and skills, but not eduction, education must come from our community.” – Dr. Bobby E. Wright

So, that’s what I suggest; that you find and embed yourself into the Black culture in your area.  If you are in some far off rural area, you’ll have to create that culture.  Organize an independent Black study group, or an African movie night, or a Haiti Solidarity committee, or a Natural Hair Support Group, etc.  Put your feelers out, I’m sure there are other Brothers and Sisters who feel the same as you, and feel like they are the only ones, just like you; you have to create opportunities for yall to come together, to find each other and build with each other.  This is so necessary, for our mental health.  

I also suggest that you approach this time in your life as an opportunity to study, not just your formal academic work, but also the institution, the people around your, the social relationships, how they are forged and sustained.  If we are going change things, or successfully exit and dismantle these systems and social relations, we need to have a deeper understanding of how they are formed and sustained.  We need to do more than resent Uncle Toms, we need to counter them, we need to do more than hate Racist, we need to subvert them, defeat them.  So, while you are “behind enemy lines,” use this opportunity to gain insights that otherwise you wouldn’t have.  Do like Dick Gregory and Paul Mooney suggest and “study White folk.”