Jordan Moore, Staff Writer

“Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.”

My life has been a cycle of constantly having to rise. Rise above hatred, rise to expectations and rise to my own personal standards. I have always been the odd one out. There has never been a moment in my life where I felt like one of many. That used to be all I wanted. I look back now and realize being one of many is not a good thing. My first school was a Spanish immersion school. I was the only black girl, and not only that, but I am a dark skin black girl making the obvious even more obvious. I was different. I would get called the n word everyday. The lights would turn off for a movie and everybody would ask where I went. Classmates would compare their skin to mine and say, “God imagine if I was that dark?”  I spent a lot of my middle school experience crying and confused. I would curse God for not giving me light skin and light eyes with long straight black hair. I would curse the world for not making me what it wanted me to be. (It was not until much later I came across what I was experiencing at school: “colorism.” Even though it now had a name it made no difference. I wanted relief.) I would research skin bleachers and colored eye contacts, and I convinced myself that if I could obtain those things I could be one of many.  When my mother would not let me do those things I strived for, I applied to all the private schools I could thinking that would be my way out and my token. And then I got into one. I can not tell you the relief I experienced. I thought my environment was the problem. However my troubles were still not over. I came into my new school severely compensating. Compensating for the lack of confidence I had in the past and the loneliness I had experienced. In other words I came in too hot, and flames tend to burn out. My flame dimmed with a series of events that one can only call disheartening. I compensated with an overload of confidence, and realized I was being a horrible friend. Realizing that my need to fit in had resulted in me losing of at least feeling like I had lost  all my friends. My grades fell dramatically as social pressure escalated. I felt lost in such an intense academic environment because it was nothing like I was used to. Freshman and Sophomore year was truly the hardest year of my life even harder than middle school because I had let my insecurities ruin relationships with other people. 

I have learned so much. From all my experiences I have become the best version of myself even if those experiences were the worst. Because I have been through so much, I am so much more than even I thought I would be. I am a dark skin, curly hair black girl that is artistic, athletic, fluent in Spanish, politically active, and most importantly, balanced. Balanced in my responses to hatred, balanced in my academic classes, and balanced in my confidences and insecurities. With every challenge I face it with an aura of balance and because of that I can continue to rise. And of course I still flinch when the lights turn off or when a song with the n word starts playing. I go to a school of predominantly white students, ignorance is ripe in my schools halls, but I make it my mission everyday to come to school and try to lessen that ignorance just a little for the next insecure black girl who comes in on a quest to find herself. I will never be one of many and I thank god for that because I am so proud to be uniquely me and I realize that my experiences and my growth has been priceless. It is so strange how something you want for so long can become the exact thing you end up running away from. I wrote a poem towards the end of my sophomore year that truly opened my eyes. The following stanza in particular was what it took for me to realize my value. The value in being myself. 

“I wish I could ask you what do see looking up at me talking to you 

I wish people would understand there is more than blackness that defines you 

All these things I can be 


No one has seen these things because it’s disguised by my blackness   

My ancestors black hands

The hands that built this country and at last 

I’m still to dark 

For you to see

My ancestors weren’t dark enough it seems 

When white man came by way of sea 

And captured the essence of the meaning and made it not proud to be 


But I cannot begin to explain how proud I am.

Beauty and culture flows from these hands 

Making me what I am 

And i shall not hide or concede 

I will effortlessly be what my ancestors paved for me. 

I want to end with this. I believe you must believe in yourself and believe in your worth before anyone else has to.”