The PWI Experience In Light of Recent and Historical Events

Jun 8, 2020 | Experiences | 5 comments

The PWI Experience In Light of Recent

and Historical Events

By Sequoya Henry



I applied to solely Predominantly White Universities because I didn’t think I was black enough to fit in at a Historically Black College or University. In primary school, I was teased because the way I spoke and carried myself didn’t seem to match my skin color. I acted too white for a black girl. I spent recent years unconsciously trying to prove my blackness; I cut my hair and wore it curly, I gravitated towards my black peers, I applied to PWIs to be blacker by comparison, and am in the BSU to understand what it means to be black. Blackness was always something to be proud of, something to aspire to, something to admire.

Although, in times like these, when I become physically ill from worrying about the multitude of threats to the people I love, the people they love, the people I have yet to meet, and the people that validate my existence simply because they share the color of my skin, I feel the most black. I think, have I been ignoring these signs because I didn’t want to see them? Have I always felt anxiety well up in me when my father walks into a fancy restaurant or a white neighborhood? Have I always been apprehensive about driving at night or on quiet roads with my friends? Did I worry about my outspoken, nonconforming, brothers every day, or was it only at night? Am I allowed to want to escape from this dystopian reality? Did I practice anti-blackness within myself because I wanted to forget that we are hunted? In the times I can’t run away from the calamity that comes with blackness, I realize it doesn’t matter how you speak, how you wear your hair, or how you walk, because that is not what makes you black, and racists know that better than anyone.

I now attend a PWI because I want to improve the everyday experience of black students. I attend a PWI because I want to love myself as much as I love the black people around me, despite the fact that we are not the norm or the standard. I attend a PWI because I want to continue the trend of black people occupying white spaces so our needs and experiences can no longer be overlooked. I am grateful for every brown face I see on campus, and embrace every opportunity to show up for, root for, and appreciate my peers. Attending a PWI is a radical act. It requires that you love who you are more than you love what others try to make you into. Giving support to your black friends and family is powerful. Getting up every day and carrying your head high and attending a class where you are the only person who looks like you is a form of protest. Being involved in any group whether that is government or theatre, and making your presence known, is a radical act. To join a protest, donate money to a worthy cause, voice your opinion, or sign a petition is revolutionary. No matter how many times black people are wronged, insulted, killed, hunted, we always find a way to recognize the beauty of being who we are, unapologetically. That is something to be envied, to be hated, to try to break, but we all know ‘black don’t crack’. To those who think they are not doing enough as black people, and to those who are feeling defeated and lost at any point in their experience, ​you ​ , living and breathing, are enough, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


  1. Natalie

    Great read! I completely identified with so much that you talked about! Whew it’s not just me! It’s such a unique experience that can rarely be explained by the masses. So thanks for the quick trip down memory lane!

  2. Shireen Jones

    Powerful!! Well said!

  3. Amanda Moorer

    Wow! All of that! I’m so proud of you for being transparent and speaking truth. This will help some someone. Keep pushing! If I can do anything to help you, please let me know.

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