Eleven guys challenge most people's definition of young black men.
Created by Alexandra Mihale
This story depicts the life of young African-American students on the Ohio University campus. The African-American community makes up only 6% of the student population — at a school with 21,000 students.
See full story at: 2011.soulofathens.com/our-dreams-are-different/all-black.html
DONALD A. LINDSAY: It was kind of like a culture shock at first. I came from a 100% black high school. From 3rd grade till the day I graduated I was around all black people. So transitioning to OU was a little different. When you come for a visit, like they bring you down here and you go to the programs where all the other minority students, but when classes start you look around and that crowd of 200 people that felt like a lot is 200 amongst 20,000.
I know a lot of my family hasn't gone to college. In my immediate family, I'm the first person to actually go to college and stay, and I know the impact that college can have on a person, and how it can benefit the family, not just them. So I chose to come to college to help myself and to open up a carrier path for that, but also to open up doors for my family and to be a role model for my siblings like my younger brother.
TERENCE ROBERTSON: …that I carry very well friend/ They might not know Terry very well then/ Coz' I'm so daring, staring within/ These guys horse their hair to pretend/ And this barely they barely offend/ But God will protect me/ I'm here to defend/ Hin-der, their performance…
Why did I come to college? Because I wanted to further my education and knowledge of the music world. I rapped that is pretty much it. Like, I rapped. I didn't know how to make beats, I didn't know anything about music, I didn't know how to play instruments or anything. To be Black on this campus is like… for me, it's fantastic because, I said, like I said, I came from Hocking College and there it was like, you can feel the evil stares like all the time. It was really uncomfortable. I was, I was never scared but it was like, "why are they looking at me like that," and you forget where you are for a while because you are there for so long. And you're like, "Oh they're looking at me because they might be prejudiced."
And she said: You don't remember nothing about me, which makes me really think you don't care nothing about me/ But me? I remember everything about you/ So why would I let down this walls just to allow you?/ To come in and do whatever every other man has did to me/ Yeah, we got history, but this relationship's history/ Forensics couldn't defend this/ And even though we got chemistry/ And you're my friend, but that's all you'll be and have ever been to me
I know you were all excited. You're like, "What, we're gonna watch ‘True Blood?’"I love ‘True Blood’. Alright! So…
DONALD A. LINDSAY: The classroom is probably the hardest place to be because there is, oh well, everybody in the class looks like each other in a certain degree so they feel comfortable talking to each other and going for help, but when you are the only black person in the class like people will… like the professor could say, "form a group," and everybody turns to the person next to and everybody is kind of looking at you like, "oh I am sitting next to the black person." And I am like, "You know, I'm not going to bite you or anything. I'm a student too." So… It's not so much racist, it's just that people are not comfortable.
HARVEY SMITH: I only had a couple of occurrences on this campus and it was early on my college carrier. My freshman year, my first party I went to, a couple of guys yelled out of a car, "We don't want you here." But I know I'm supposed to be here, because if I wasn't supposed to be here, I would have been gone long time ago.
DONALD A. LINDSAY: Me and my friends were going to Palmer Fest and we went to one of the houses. I saw one of the guys I knew, and he told me "Hey, there is a keg in the basement" So I went to the basement and this white guy stopped me and asked me, "where was I going?" I told him it was fine, we'll leave. I asked my friends to leave the porch and so he starts to yell and says you know, "Get out of here," and he just continued to yell and say the same thing over and over again. "I paid for this apartment, for this house," and you got to leave, that we didn't give an "F" and just get the "F" out of here.
The black community on campus is small, kind of close knit, but a little separated. At the same time there are bunch of small groups into one big group.
TERENCE ROBERTSON: I know it seems that the black community doesn't wanna get involved with the white community but it's quite the contrary. A lot of them have more white friends than black friends really because the campus is majority white anyway.
DONALD A. LINDSAY: We interact with the white community more than they interact with us mostly, because we don't have much of a choice. We wanna go to the bars, they are going to be at the bars. We wanna go to the movie theater, they are going to be at the movie theater. We wanna go to a program hosted through the campus, they are going to be there. But when we have programs, they tend not to come to our programs.
HARVEY SMITH: I first got my first taste for the fraternity because my father is actually a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and I've grow up watching the brothers of APA do great things.
DONALD A. LINDSAY: When I was going through some things in life, like when my father passed away, the people who reached out to me the most were members of APA.
TERENCE ROBERTSON: A lot of people try to be friends with me now that would never talk to me. And like sometimes, I wear this around, and, like if I have this like, tucked in sometimes. And if it's tucked in, people would scrunch their faces up at me, and if I wave at them they would be like, "What? Who are you?" If I have it out though, the same person would be like, "Hey how are you doing?" Like they would go out of their way to speak to me but… I'm newer, so a lot of people don't know me. So… but if they see this they would be like "Oh! You are that guy! So I'm gonna talk to you now"…It's just like high school.
HARVEY SMITH: I've been always wanting to have a brother and now I have ten brothers that I can count on, and there is thousands of brothers around the world that I can count on, and it's just good to know you have that bond that can never be broken by anybody. So that is what it means for me.
DONALD A. LINDSAY: And once you get into the fraternity there are older members of the fraternity who reach out and help you. And it is like a family. I know when I was in Japan and I didn't have enough money to pay for something. I could email some of the alumni brothers of the fraternity and they all sent me some money so I can pay for some things. And even though they never met me in person they looked out for me and I appreciate that a lot.
Most people are surprised. They asked me, "Why did you pick Japanese? Or, why do you study in Japanese? Or, why do you wanna go to Japan?" I think is not common among African-Americans to study a non- traditional language. I had a really good time. The people are very welcoming to foreigners - especially black people, which maybe surprising for people in America. But they kind of see a black person and they don't associate black people with America. They just think American is like a Caucasian and then they see a black person and they are like, "OH! Hi! How are you?". And they wanna take your picture and talk to you. It's a good experience. Some people found it annoying, but I thought it was fun. It's a lot different than being in America. I did enjoy being different there because sometimes in America when you feel different, well, when I feel different in certain settings, it's kind of like a negative kind of different. You kind of feel unwanted and it can be discouraging, but in Japan the different was embraced. It's like people were wowed by seeing me in some places.
TERENCE ROBERTSON: Other stereotypes that you know it's like, about black people would be like they like fried chicken, they like red Kool-Aid, they like watermelon, they like cornbread, they like hot sauce, like it's a bunch of stereotypes. Oh! And they like white women. That is like the black man's weaknesses supposedly. But who doesn't like fried chicken right? And Cool Aid and watermelon. Those things are all delicious so…
DONALD A. LINDSAY: African-Americans students are athletes other than that… It happens way too much. Now me, I did play sports in high school so I kind of had the stature, the stature of an athlete when I got here. But all too often people are like, "So what are you here for? Oh wait, are you here for sports? Or, are you in the basketball team? Or hey, are you in the football team?" And I just I hate that because for me is like, no, I'm not on the football team. I'm actually here for academic scholarship, so thank you very much for being stereotypical…
TERENCE "TEURO" ROBERTSON:
"Why no tats It's just not my act/ They are like why no wings? It's not my thing/ See I, I get all high on displaying my drafts / I'm just living my life and your just living a lie/ They call me/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ They call me/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ I go by/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ with no, with no/ Tattoos or piercing/ Just call me/ Clean body/ Hey just call me/ Clean body/ Aha just call me/ Clean body/ Yeah! Just call me/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ Just call me/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ I go by/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ Call me/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ With no, with no/ Tattoos or piercing/ Just call me/ Clean body/ Yeah! Just call me/ Clean body baby no tattoos or piercing/ Just call me. "
See full story at: 2011.soulofathens.com/our-dreams-are-different/all-black.html
See other stories that examine the changing American Dream at: 2011.soulofathens.com
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