Wake Up: Coming Home More Socially Aware & Dealing With Those That Don’t Care

To those returning home more socially aware than before, it’s important to note-

Some people aren’t going to understand, but even a brief mention or discussion of an important topic could ignite the necessary flame that leads to social change.

As a college student, finishing a challenging semester and returning home for break is one of the greatest feelings. Completing a variety of general education courses ranging from physical sciences to African-American studies, it is not uncommon for first-year college students to return home with heightened consciousness and knowledge in areas of social justice.

I especially remember these occurrences during the first semester of freshman year (fall 2014), primarily that of returning home as a student-turned-social justice advocate. With newfound awareness and interests in discrepancies within politics, racially motivated crimes, and disparities between socioeconomic levels, I returned home with an abundance of knowledge, but was occasionally met with disinterested listeners.

In the wake of unarmed black men and women being murdered by police officers, confederate flag controversies, and people claiming a post racial society due to Barack Obama’s Presidency, I not only became more aware of my status as an African-American female, but also began to notice a universal lack of social awareness.

I spent my first year enrolled in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center‘s Social Justice Advocates program, meeting with fellow student-advocates weekly to discuss inequality  and ways to prompt change within communities. I also joined the Black Student Union, a staple for someone like me at a predominantly white institution. Aside from extracurricular activities, my first semester experience on campus proved to be unique. Living in a special living option, my dorm was made up of a variety of students ranging in cultures, religions, experiences, race, and ethnicities. In fact, my living situation transferred into the classroom. Out of the six classes I was enrolled in, three of the professors were women of color and my academic advisor was a Black male. With the trailblazing women leading in the classroom and my decision to take cross cultural courses of study, how could I not help but yearn for social equality?

Participating in endless events and being surrounded by people who shared the same interests, it was difficult to wrap my head around the fact that some didn’t consciously strive for equality and representation and others didn’t see a need for it at all!

Already having an interest in social justice, my newfound openness to discussing it hit social media waves then traveled alongside me as I returned home. Though I’ve had a variety of good and bad experiences concerning my advocacy of topics like race and racial conflict, my first-year memory trumps the rest.

While back at home, a group of my high school friends and aquaintances held a get together at a local restaurant. A conversation regarding thought-provoking books read during the semester spread around the table. My friends spit out the titles of leadership books, lifestyle articles, and novels that’d been turned into movies. As each person took the opportunity to speak, I nodded with a smile, completely forgetting to pick a book decent enough to share with the predominantly conservative crowd. Moments later, it was my turn to contribute to the conversation, which I took as an opportunity to at least ignite a beginner’s “woke” flame in the minds of otherwise unconcerned young adults.

The Condemnation of Blackness,” I stated, awaiting the uncomfortable moments that would follow. Turning to my right and left, everyone looked as though they hadn’t heard what I said. Maybe they didn’t understand the title.

The Condemnation of Blackness,” I repeated, “it discusses the ideals of black criminality and overrepresentation in prisons. It’s really interesting, especially thinking about what’s happening in the media right now,” I added, referencing the then recent coverage of protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

My confidence was met by a counterattacking gaze of green and blue eyes with looks of desperation that said I-hope-this-conversation-is-over-because-I-am-uncomfortable. In an attempt to seem remotely interested, one person shook her head slowly as if she was in fear, while the other muttered a comment under her breath. “You’re doing a lot” was all I could grasp as the noise in the restaurant ensued.

She was right. I was doing a lot, but for the right reasons. The semester had been full of learning about and experiencing tension and conflict. Just weeks before this discussion, I had witnessed the face of racism as people scorned those who’d decided to take stand against injustices on campus.

A year later, my social justice warrior mindset prevails. I and others stood in solidarity with the students at Mizzou and advocated for safety on behalf of the many black students who don’t feel welcome on their campuses. I continue to attend open discussions and enlightening events, in hopes to better educate myself and gain the necessary tools to speak about it to others.

Completing the first semester of my sophomore year, it is inevitable that another opportunity like that of the sharing book titles at lunch will re-occur. To those returning home more socially aware than before, it’s important to note-

Some people aren’t going to understand, but even a brief mention or discussion of an important topic could ignite the necessary flame that leads to social change.











About Candice Crutchfield (20 Articles)
Candice is an occasionally stressed out college student and aspiring lawyer from northern Virginia. The African-American student-turned-social-justice-advocate can be found reading about civil rights issues, ranting about millennial life, and starting Twitter conversations with Soledad O’Brien. After being many people’s only black friend, she gained an interest in establishing diverse and accepting communities. A media junkie of sorts, she can also be found writing for Blavity, binge watching TV shows, and taking endless pictures of food for her Instagram account. Email her: candice@undergroundvoices.co

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