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I walk alone through the darkened campus, the moon lighting the gothic architecture, the classroom windows reflecting tree branches and shadows and loneliness. I am trying to clear my head, to feel the environment, to be, to be and think and plan and find my courage. In the chilling autumn breeze, the voices of my ancestors whisper their praise, their encouragement, advice tripping at my back
Look, she’ll live in a castle for four years! Can you see the ivy? Isn’t there supposed to be ivy? Study hard, little one, and think of all the things you will learn. Ah, mi’ja, don’t forget to spice your rice with cumin and garlic, just so, when you feel homesick. And toast the rice, toast it properly. Keep your head up high, butterfly, and look them in the eyes. You are worthy. You earned this. We are so proud. I am so proud. Feel the strength of us. We are here, hear us, listen, like this… do this, be that … make us proud. And prouder still. Here, hear, here, hear. Here.
All these voices around me, but all I really hear, on repeat, is the voice of that white boy, with the eyes of turquoise, questioning me, before class: “woman? first generation at an ivy? wants to study science? brown skin? check, check, check, check. holy shit, how many checks can one person have on that affirmative action checklist?”
So tell me. Whose voice should I hear the loudest? Those who are long ago and distant and full of whispers of potential? Or the louder voice right in front of me, who questions my entire being in this whitely and closely guarded world?
please, tell me what to hear.