Career Advice, Now + Beyond

My school branded me the “big, angry Black girl” and stripped me of my scholarship – just for doing this

I can work five times harder, but it still won’t matter. I’ll still be the Black girl who gets pushed out of the spotlight to make room for Billy and Becky.

I never got the recognition I should’ve gotten while being a part of my school newspaper’s editorial staff because I wasn’t enough to my adviser or to my fellow staff members. 

Being the overachieving, hard-working, helpful leader wasn’t enough. 

Being the one who used her free mornings, always started the class, and pushed writers to reach their best still wasn’t enough. 

Being the peacemaker, a huge contributor during brainstorming ideas and just overall dedicated to having great articles wasn’t enough either. 

Call me bitter all you want, but if you were me, you would be bitter, too.

I used to find myself making a circle back to good old self-blame when I reflected on my time on the paper. I thought I didn’t do enough, I wasn’t much of a leader, or that the whole “big angry Black girl” thing shadowed over all my more likable qualities.

The paper is usually led by white students who obviously don’t extend the conversation outside their perspective. I used the opportunity to write stories that affected me and more than half the school. I was tired of seeing the paper highlighting another common story like about the “newest star athlete.” Why did we have to be hesitant on discussing issues that matter?

I wasn’t afraid to bring something new to the (white) table. While they brought up the newest trend, I was one of the writers who mentioned the most recent events. However, the majority of the white students and the proud members of the “Best Friends of Whites Club” didn’t love that I didn’t focus on insignificant school news.

They didn’t support me when I wrote about why people needed to respect my natural hair. I felt judgment for discussing how Black women’s mental health wasn’t taken seriously. And last year my friend and I got huge backlash when we wrote about how mixed-baby fetishes exist and how disgusting they are. 

My topics ranged from why Black Lives Matter to how much of a joke white feminism is.

The only “negative” outcome from all of this is that it made me become this “loud, big, angry Black girl” to my fellow editors.

During heated discussions on topics like politics, the conversation either died when I opened my mouth or I was told to calm down. Let me point out the fact that I wasn’t one of the 8 AM-screaming editors who loved to waste precious time and allow everything to get stressful. I was either interrupted, ignored, censored, or pressured to sugarcoat what I was writing. 

Yet, I still fought for this paper to be the best. Others don’t understand why and most likely you don’t either.

My reason?  

As much as it wasn’t a safe space for me I knew that at least someone had to create a tiny space for others to freely express themselves until the whole space was for everyone. I did that through my role as the Opinions Section Director, my main responsibility as an editor. Especially for the girls of color in the paper, I opened my doors wide open for whatever they needed to say. 

Just because I didn’t get a chance to write without racist and sexist criticism, didn’t mean someone else had to lose that chance, too.

At the end of the day, knowing that I provided that means a lot more to me than my fellow editors and former advisor kissing my feet. It even means a lot more over the $200 scholarship I received, a scholarship meant for two editors only.

Ever since the first advisor left years ago, he started a scholarship fund and awarded two editors for their hard work. My advisor is the one to nominate two students to receive it. I wouldn’t be the first Black girl editor to receive it, but I knew I had a chance. When the time came, my advisor was supposed to choose only two editors. 

He instead split the money among all five editors because he “couldn’t just choose two” and that”we’re all amazing.”

Oh really?

That’s not what he said when he filled up the second head editor spot with the other rich white girl who only thought of herself.

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“Couldn’t just choose,” my ass –  you knew exactly what you were doing!

I gave my all and as much as I want to state every single person who tore me down in some way, I know that’s not going to change anything.

Being white and mediocre gets you places and gives you opportunities a lot sooner than for people of color. I can work five times harder, but it still won’t matter. 

I’ll still be the Black girl who gets pushed out of the spotlight to make room for Billy and Becky.