Why I’m not attending Black Christmas.
*an HBCU homecoming.
I was 18 years old when I came to Atlanta for college. To give the proper context, snap music, long white tees, and thin eyebrows were popular trends. I spent four years at one of the best (black) colleges in America, having my ideas challenged and mind stretched in more ways than one could ever imagine. I learned how to tie the word ‘diaspora’ into almost every paper I wrote, including classes in economics and archery… but I also learned of the accepted southern belief of eating cornbread to get a bigger butt. These both poignant and hilarious treasured memories make me feel like my degree is worth more than gold, even as I pay the outrageous monthly student loans.
With all of this love and wistful thinking it’s no wonder that every year I get a little misty-eyed thinking about returning or going “Home” to the place that was crucial in making me who I am.
Even after I got my degree, a posed picture with the school’s president, (the debt), the lifelong sisters, and the cute disease free guy from the college across the street; every year I’m still tempted to go back and find a little more.
And it’s not just me.
I graduated almost a decade ago. *I took a deep breath at this startling glimpse into my own mortality and continued.* In that time I’ve had more jobs, apartments, and life changing events than I can count. This doesn’t make me special because most of the people in my life have as well. Yet every year we exchange the feeler texts to see if someone we know is willing to make the trip home….
So what is it we’re looking for?
When we were kids, we needed the gates, the campus, the college to grow. And we did.
My friends are some of the smartest, sharpest, grounded, successful people in the world in my eyes. In short, they are the future Whitney sang about. And I’m happy they still associate with me.
When we were kids, we needed each other around to force each other to grow. And we did.
My peers are now navigating the world and kicking ass in it. We’re armed with our intelligence and make it through the countless hurdles that undoubtedly exist. Even if it feels like we’re not doing much more than just living, we’re surviving.
We laughed, we cried, we fell in love and lust. Feelings were had.
But where do we go from here?
We’re out in the world now. We’re adult-ing. And while we’re doing it, we’re working within the systems that try to break us down spiritually, mentally, and physically. We’re challenging and changing those systems. We’re still laughing but the jokes have changed. We’re still crying but tragedies have changed too.
It’s tempting to go back home, to the comfort and the land we once took for granted. It loved us when the rest of the world didn’t and it knows our journey like no other place does. But it knew us for only a snapshot in time.
We’ve got mountains to move and work to be done. That was the point. That was what they told us when we left.
Even if we visit it won’t be the same. Even if we visit, we can’t go home.
I’ll leave my space at the tent for someone who still needs it.