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  • Brilliance Jones

A #BlackAF memoir of a PWI graduate

I went to a PWI but my undergrad experience was hella BLACK.

We broke bread together, laughed together, cried together, marched together, started businesses together, supported art together, shit we all still out here being as Black as we were born and advocating for all of our sistahs and brothers, together.


We didn’t let the klan’s permit to march or the young Republican party stop our together.

We experienced the second stage of racial identity development together.

We raged together. We lamented together. We healed wounds together. We learned our language together. We replenished what was stolen from us, together.

And don’t get me wrong, this ain’t a hate piece. I fully recognize and respect the sanctity that is the HBCU and the experience it provided and continues to provide my beautiful cousins across the diaspora.

This ain’t a comparison piece.

I don’t think one can compare a Black experience in these two ways much like one can’t compare the Black experience of growing up in Ghana vs. South Oak Cliff. In both places we claim ownership. In both places we know we are at home. In both places, we find beauty, regardless of the _________ (I use this space when referencing the “it” Solange sang about in cranes in the sky)

This piece is about me showing love to those who walked where I walked.

I write this for those who knew from birth that Blackness and Africanness were synonymous and yet not at all, because of the things stolen. I write this for those who walked grounds soiled with the blood and pain of our ancestors and attended schools named for the cruel and sadistic southern “leaders” who implored their constituents to actively seek to destroy Blackness and Black bodies.

This piece is about NAACP #6816, BSA, Soul Lifters, and the whole NPHC who filled up conference rooms, auditoriums, ballrooms, warehouses, Farrington Pit, the YARD, and every other space with every Black face so often it wasn’t hard to claim you knew every Black person on campus.

This is for those of us who wrote VOTE OR DIE on the walls of campus buildings in spite of knowing we might be expelled because we knew everyone didn’t make it to the Tenth's Black Athena forum or take African American History with Dr. Pruitt so they never felt the shaking and power in her voice when she spoke of the conditions of slave ships and the four little girls who were murdered in a church bombing.

This is for those of us who were denied access to our own information but fought tooth and nail to get it anyway.

This is for those of us who were never exposed to an HBCU, or any college for that matter but still made it across that stage.

This is for those of us who were told not to go to an HBCU if we wanted to be taken seriously or be successful in life by counselors, teachers, or peers, but now know the depth of that lie.

This is for those of us who got it out the mud and don’t think twice about doing it again and again and again.

This is for those of us who will create the legacy.

This is for those of us who generated and exemplified Black excellence at a PWI that didn’t have an Ivy League title.

This is for those of us who only search for grad school programs at HBCUs because we’ll be damned if they bamboozle us again.

This is my story.

This is our story.

This is a story of Blackness.


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