Written By: Kyley Jameison
Dear Other Student,
First I would like to congratulate you on making it into college. I’m writing this letter to you in hopes that you get a better understanding of who I am as a young African American woman. I’ve already had my share of experiences at this university, both good and not so good. While I’m sure you are extremely excited to start the school year, there are some things that I would like for you to know about me. This isn’t a threat but an open letter that I hope will clarify some of the things that have constantly come up in my college career thus far.
1. I am part of the most educated groups in terms of gender and race. So when you see me walking around campus with my head held high, know that it is because I have a standard to uphold.
2. There are many young women who look like me. We are not the same person. We are not all related. We do not all know each other.
3. My hair is not a toy. I know that it fascinates you and is absolutely beautiful, but it’s not meant for you to touch. It doesn’t matter whether I’m wearing my hair naturally in curls, have straight hair, weave or no weave; you’re not entitled to touch my hair. Your hand should not be anywhere near the top of my head. No really means no.
4. When a question comes up about African American people, there’s a good chance that I’m not going to know that correct answer. I am one of many and my opinion is my own. If you’re looking to hear my perspective on an issue, I’m more than happy to give you that. I am not, however, ambassadors for all African American people that you see on campus.
5. Twerking is not hereditary. If you happen to see me at a party, do not expect me to start a class on how to dance to the beat. Anyone is capable of doing so if they wish to. I also may not know the words to every song. Heck, this may be the first time I’ve even heard the lyrics. I’m not always in the know when it comes to music you think I’m listening to daily.
6. No, the black jokes are not funny. They don’t break the ice; in fact, they only make things more uncomfortable. Regular, non-stereotypical jokes are just fine.
7. You may meet a couple of people of color who don’t mind you using the N-word. Do not let this one person’s approval represent how everyone feels about you using the word. A majority of us find it to be very disrespectful and would appreciate it if you do not use the term at all.
8. Take the time to go to an event, forum or meeting from your black student organization or coalition. Not being African American does not mean that you aren’t allowed to know about our history, culture or what we’re doing on campus.
9. I never want to hear you say, “I’m blacker than you!” No amount of knowledge or experience will surpass the fact that I’m actually black and you aren’t.
10. African American men are beautiful, intelligent, and strong human beings. I completely understand why you would want to be in a relationship with a black man… but know this: Dating a black man is not something to brag about. Bashing the African American women who are not in a relationship with your man is not okay. If your significant other is okay with that, you need to rethink who you are with.
11. Yes, I am upset about the other shooting of an unarmed African American that I saw on television today. Unfortunately I’m not surprised anymore by these killings and my pain towards it is becoming numb. I’m used to watching footage on the news that is “very disturbing”. I’m used to other people’s comments on black on black crime and how it isn’t a cop problem. I’m willing to talk about it with you, but for some reason I’m taking it as a personal loss, so be careful with what you say about anyone being killed.
12. I expect you to keep me in check as well. I want to respect your culture and ways of living just as much as I want you to respect mine. Let me know what offends you, what makes you uncomfortable, or flat out makes you angry. The only way we can better our community and our college experience together is if we take the time to learn more about each other.
I hope that this has cleared some things up. I look forward to spending the next year with you and growing at this wonderful university!