As a freshman entering into Abilene Christian University, I was super excited about setting foot on campus and starting a new chapter in my life. However during my first few weeks my excitement quickly started to fade. All because of this question “What sport do you play for ACU?”
When I was first asked this, it was coming from a student that I had never met. I kind of thought it was a compliment. Since I had been an athlete for a long time, it felt kinda nice to hear someone could tell that I was an athletic individual. However, I continued to receive this question more frequently.
From the likes of students, professors and even faculty members. At this point I was becoming frustrated. Surely not everyone who saw me on this campus just assumed that I am an athlete for this campus. So as I continued to get asked this question, I started to respond with “I’m here for the academics, to get a degree.”
When I started to respond in this way, the response of peers, professors and faculty that were either startled, awkwardly chuckling and or very upset. This I found quite amusing due to the fact that I was not going around campus asking my white peers about what church camp they worked at or what mission trip they went on. That seems pretty stereotypical right?
So how come it was so hard for others on campus to to believe that I my academics is what got me here and not my physical capabilities?Were minorities only good for entertaining on the field or on a court?
Then something outrageous happened my sophomore year. There was a freshman in Gardner Hall that had applied on a charcoal face mask, while her roommate recorded her on Snapchat saying, “I’m a strong black woman,” then proceeds to put on big fake red lips, with chuckling being heard throughout the video. The infamous black face incident of Fall 2016.
Something that somehow was supposed to be funny, ended up causing a lot of pain for a group of people on campus. Seeing that video brought up old memories for being bullied for having “big lips” and or any other part of me that I could not control or change. At that moment I was ready to leave ACU. I felt that the university did not care about students who looked like me unless they were wearing the schools athletic apparel.
Then something monumental happen that helped me changed my mind about leaving ACU. The Office of MultiCultural Affairs (OMA), hosted an open mic in front of the campus center, allowing any and everyone to speak about how this incident made them feel.
Many students spoke (including myself), and it was such a relief to see professors, faculty and Phil Schubert himself, listen to the heartache of students. Seeing them emotional and comforting other students showed me how much they really care about all students on this campus. If it was not for OMA putting that open mic together and giving us that opportunity to share our hearts, I can tell you that I would not still be here now.
In that moment, I knew I could stay. I knew I could still call ACU home.