Black Women in the Ivy League Share Their Experiences (Part 2)

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April 16, 2014 • Inspiration

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Is it still illegal to be Black and educated in America?

As a good journalist would, I shared my original Madame Noire article to several Linkedin Groups that I am part of.( Note, this is a great way to get others to read your work and offer feedback.)

I received this in response from a fellow group member, Chriscinthia Blount, in the Black Enterprise Group. While reading the post, felt tears come to my eyes. Not only did Chriscinthia’s words resonate with me, they made me think so much about the underlying premise of education in America and who was first deemed worthy enough to get education. I felt the power in each word as I read it. The experiences shared in my original article really struck a chord with Chriscinthia. This is the part of writing that I love. I love being able to inspire people to share their truths.

Here is the comment in its entirety. Again, I ask you to respect Chriscinthia’s words. This is what being a woman of color in the Ivy League means to her. This is what SHE has experienced. Her thoughts are hers to share. While I do not agree with every point 100%, I think there is much to be learned by allowing people to open up and share their story.

Here is her comment in its entirety:

Cm

Thank you so much for being brave enough to write such an article. The myth that Black women in the Ivy League can “write their own ticket” is enough to silence us about the problems we face even as graduates. To be honest, I felt the article just scratched the surface. I knew from day one that it was going to be a long four years for this girl who was born in the South Bronx.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best and most indelible memories I have were created at Cornell University. I graduated in 1985 and there was still a strong sense of community when I attended. Never before was I in close proximity to such literary greats as Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Sonia Sanchez. I still remember Sonia Sanchez going into a trance while reciting “A Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King.” She started chanting toward the end of the poem. You could hear a pin drop in the crowd. Who could forget the wonderful social life, the many parties and step shows hosted by the Black fraternities and sororities, the Black professors who had no problem giving you a reality check if you had the audacity to hand in an assignment below their standards, the many times you sat up with a typewriter and watched the sunrise because you were dumb enough to wait until the last minute to finish that paper. And let’s not forget when campuses across the U.S. exploded with the chant “Free, free Mandela!”

No, I wasn’t lonely, but I was tired of feeling like I had to justify my presence. After all, a girl from the South Bronx couldn’t possibly be smart enough to attend such a prestigious institution. I attended schools that were predominately Black and Latino and I was not prepared for the type of ignorance I would encounter at Cornell. I was tired of people staring at me like I had three heads. And “No, b–tch, you can’t touch my hair!” And no, I didn’t think it was “just a joke” when students wore KKK outfits on Halloween and paraded around campus. Of course, I was just being an angry Black woman who took things too seriously. I was even tired of some of the “brothers” who were down with the revolution, but not down with respecting the women in their own community.

The article didn’t talk about the hell we catch after graduating. Contrary to popular belief, an Ivy League graduate actually has a harder time in the job market. For example, when Chriscinthia from Cornell shows up at a job interview, there is ALWAYS shock on the face of interviewer. One person had the nerve to look me up and down like I was dirty and say “MY son wanted to go to Cornell.” Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. As quiet as it is kept, it is still illegal to be Black and educated in this country. It’s even worse if you graduated from an Ivy League institution. Even if you get the job, your co-workers will go out of their way to set you up for failure. Unfortunately, the ones that look like you are the main culprits!

The worse part of being an Ivy League graduate is the way you are treated by the people in your own community. Black people assume that you are conceited and aloof. They assume that you are disconnected from your community. They assume that you can “write your own ticket”, that you are conservative, that it is easy for you in the job market. They even assume that you come from a rich family. Not! People also assume that Ivy League Institutions make you intelligent. Let me set the record straight. I was intelligent BEFORE I went to Cornell. I was intelligent at PS 161 Ponce De Leon Elementary School in the Bronx, I was intelligent at JHS 125 Henry Hudson in the Bronx, and I was intelligent at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx! Please don’t get it twisted.

I still have a hard time as an Ivy League graduate because, at this point in my life, I refuse to dumb down for people be they friends, family, or co-workers. I have finally accepted what God made and it is a sin to hide it.

– Chriscinthia Blout, Class of 1985, Cornell University

What do you all think about what she shared?  Did you agree or disagree with everything said? Please share your thoughts or experiences below in the COMMENTS section.

If you’d like to contribute your experiences, please send me an email at rainshineluv@gmail.com with the SUBJECT LINE: WOC  Submission. Please include your name, class year, and university.

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  • Thanks for writing on this subject, Rana & thanks for sharing Ms. Blount’s words on the topic, which I think are truthful and powerful.