Growing up, in black middle class America as an first generation American; my parents were very social. I went to private school and camp every summer. I was sheltered and as much as I wanted to go out into the world I was terrified by it. I was soft spoken and introverted. My father would always say to me be who you are. It’s not you, you just have to find other black kids who share your interest. I’d obsessed over making good grades so that I could go to college and meet all of these great black people who could appreciate a good shoe without being materialistic. And who were cultured without wanting to be “white”. But, came to find it wasn’t as easy as showing up, introducing yourself, and extending good intent. It was stares, eye rolls, and other jealous behavior. Where was all of this hostility coming from? I was so excited to have made it to college and see other black faces. But, instead I got distrustful looks and standoffish demeanors. It wasn’t long before I started to lose that excitement. I found myself joining black clubs because I felt I was suppose to. And I often wondered how the very same people who were rude or indifferent expected me to come out to their events to show my support. I felt bamboozled. Even more so when parents picked up the bill.
Even so, I still came out to events to show my support. So, when my schools NAACP chapter were having a fashion show to raise money to build a school in Uganda; I wasn’t ecstatic to have another event to go to. The president approached me and asked if I could help design the stage props and reach out to any black celebs’ who might be interested in hosting the event. Honestly, I already felt overwhelmed with a full load, work, and my own personal life. And when I’d go to the NAACP office to have lunch with the vp who I was friends with; I’d see how overwhelmed they were and always ended up making phone calls and faxing for them anyway. I found myself making runs with the NAACP chairs from kinkos to home depot. And found myself buying supplies. I went to Home Depot and bought industrial Styrofoam to make Barbie doll boxes for the models to come out of and Michael’s for paint. For weeks my dorm looked like a utility closet housing props and supplies. Everyone loved the Barbie boxes and we were all glad that they were functional. I thought great my job here is done and now I can get back to my term papers. Then on the night of the event, the sistah who was suppose to be collecting the donations at the entrance decided that she didn’t want to be in the club anymore and would rather watch her friends who were in the show. I thought oh, heck no I have to get back to my dorm and only wanted to wish everyone a good show. My friend begged me and I told her only for an hour. That hour turned into 2 and instead of being greeted by brothas and sistahs excited to be apart of an event that would better our current situation; I was I bombarded with attitudes and insults by people who didn’t care to donate. They took offense when I told them there was a $10 cover fee and the money was going to be used to help build a school for children in Uganda. Some of the attendees gladly handed over their donation as if to pat themselves on the back for aiding the cause. But, most became combative and needed to know why showing up wasn’t enough. Mainly people felt that because they knew someone who was in the show they were suppose to be excused. I found myself in the dark and light drizzle getting cursed out after I told a group of brothas that in order to go in they had to donate $10 each. They refused. One of the brothas started yelling obscenities and then lastly he said “B____I don’t have to pay, I’m fly”. I was taken aback like this isn’t even my event. This is supposed to be a black event and this is how we act? I was embarrassed. The very same people who showed up in designer clothing yet didn’t want to pay were black students in Noah. The Noah program was created to ensure that there was a black student body present at my school. It was for blacks who wouldn’t have been able to get in otherwise. To be in Noah you had to have one of those sob stereotypically black stories about no father being present and a mother who worked 2 jobs to support you and your multiple siblings. Something along those lines. Generic. I tried to explain to them that rich white alumni felt sorry for blacks here who couldn’t afford to go to school we need to feel sorry for the kids in Africa who can’t afford to go to school. But, there was no getting through them and I was so turned off I wanted to leave. I wanted to say you know what **** them kids in Africa I have term papers due. But, I couldn’t. I stood my ground and tried my best to ignore the insults as I felt my own tantrum of tears coming on. I sounded like a broken record telling people $10 and trying to convince them to fund their own cause. But, in the end I handed over $350 to the president when the show was over and received a $200 donation from a professor after telling her about my experience with the event. So, it all worked out in the end. But, at what point do you throw the towel in? To answer my own question the answer is never. But, I got so hyped up thinking that college would be magical places where all black are on the same page. And while no one should have to deal with abuse even if it’s for charity; I couldn’t let fools deter me from doing my part. I never helped with any of their other events. And still didn’t jump for joy at the mentioning of any black events. But, I always found myself present coming out to support even if it were just long enough to show my face and leave. At what point do we stop having to feel each other’s wrath to get anything done?