Just. Ask.

Categories: Student Life, Uncategorized, Vermont

The question: “What does she look like?” is a normal question one would ask when trying to identify another human being. However at Middlebury I have learned it can turn into a game of 21 questions.

Is she short? Kinda

How long is her hair? Um shoulder length…

What is her style? I dunno, depends on the day

Does she play a sport? No…

Does she hang out with any athletes? I’ve seen her at a few games…

Does she do any clubs? Yeah, I think she is in Riddim and does other orgs too…

What  is her major: I think she is in the sciences

Well what does she look like!? Um she is kinda short, black hair, brown eyes…

Oh, is she black? (Long Pause.) She’s African American, I believe…

The topic of race is one that many like to approach with deliberate ambiguity. I could tell you that Middlebury has 22% U.S. students of color, but what does that mean? What does that truly tell you about our institution?

I have realized in the past 4-years that Admissions counselors have one of the best jobs on campus. Not only are they able to meet prospective students, but their job provides them the medium to truly gain a more holistic view of each student. They have the luxury of looking at a student’s academic history in relation to their character. In the fast-paced academic bubble of Middlebury we rarely make the time to learn about each other outside of the classroom. Based on our majors, friends and personal assumptions we sometimes create artificial boundaries and stick to them for our four years. I thought I would take the time in this blog entry to shed light on a touchy subject.

Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m proud! (Did you say it?) Probably not, and simply reading it I know it made some people uncomfortable and wary of reading further. But bear with me as I flesh this out. I bring the race topic to the table with humor because I feel it is one of the few ways to address the issues without causing conniptions or heart palpitations. Let’s start with a basic fact.  We all have varying levels of melanin that cause our skin color to be different shades. So to all those folks who like to say they are “color-blind”…Please leave that to the folks who really have that genetic condition. You see me, and surprise, I am black.

The whole topic of race is something subjective, so I will leave that for each person to individually define. But I can speak for myself…and I shall. Ethnicity-wise my parents are Grenadian. Grenada (pronounced GREN – NAY – DUH) is an island in the West Indies (not to be confused with Granada, the city in Spain.) The national language is English (as we used to be a British colony) and one of our major exports before Hurricane Ivan was nutmeg. If you ever have a chance to visit, you will experience views such as these everyday.->

The Spice Island

 

Now, just who is Mona? (I’m getting there…)

I was born in Suffolk, England. (Gasp, What?  And she has no accent?) Sadly, no, I was teased and the Queen’s tongue left me faster than you can say PIPPA.  I am a military brat and it is a title I hold near and dear to my heart. I am an American and I am very proud of my parent’s dedication and service to this country. That being said, I also identify heavily with my Grenadian and British roots. My house is always filled with Cream Crackers, Marks and Spencer’s products and nutmeg. To throw another hook in there, I also identify as a southerner as I lived in Sumter, South Carolina for 8 years. And Before Midd I lived in Brooklyn, New York for 10 years. My life is a mezcla of Urban, Southern West Indian cool with a hint of English austerity. I go through all this to prove a simple point. Get to know me. Don’t assume by my clothing, my surroundings or my skin color that you know all there is to know about. In the words of the artist Mateo, Just get to know, I’m here… Till May, that is  :-)

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