To the Black Girls Heading to PWIs
or Instructions to Myself as a Freshwoman
When a white girl begs you to “talk black” for her, don’t.
When you’re a dozen people’s “first black friend,” try to survive it.
When people want to touch your hair, kindly refuse them.
When the middle and upper class girls talk about how poor they are as college students, just leave.
When you’re the only black person in class, show up and take it.
When you need to see black people, go to a black church.
When a professor asks you if you’re “from somewhere else,” tell her you were born in Indianapolis.
When a professor asks you if you’re from Africa or the Bahamas, tell her you were born in Indianapolis.
When people keep calling you the other black girls’ names, tell them your name one more time, and then go talk about it with the other black girls.
Meet all the other black girls.
When you run out of hair products, improvise.
When you do your hair, do it at night. There aren’t as many people around asking questions.
When someone picks up on a “new slang word” that’s been floating around the black community for a decade, sigh, and let them use it.
When a professor calls out your blackness in class, don’t stand for it.
When your professor only assigns books by white males, call him out on it.
When the crusty white man comes in to talk about humor writing, and his crusty white man humor is dry, don’t give him a pity laugh.
Actually, stop laughing at things that aren’t funny to you. Period.
When the professor only teaches you how to draw and shade white people, draw a black person anyway.
When you’re at a table full of white girls eating salad, eat the taco you want to eat.
Sit with the other black kids in the dining commons. Start doing it as soon as you can.
Don’t let people use you as a token.
Don’t be afraid to write about black people, just because everyone else is writing like race doesn’t exist.
Don’t be ashamed to wear your doo-rag to bed.
Arrange more soul food nights with your black friends and watch black comedians with them and have hair nights and watch Friday.
Actually, do everything you can with your black friends.
Know your history, because other people don’t.
Celebrate your body whenever you can.