Am I Black Enough?

2 min

Picking a college isn’t easy. For teens weighing their options there are a lot of factors to consider. YR Media’s Valencia White says her racial identity played a big role.

As a senior, the question I get asked the most is: Where do you want to go to college? My answer is always the same. I want to go to Howard University or Spelman College, both of which are historically Black colleges. But sometimes I ask myself, "Am I Black enough to go to an HBCU? "

I’m biracial — my mom is mixed with Black and Filipino and my dad is white. In seventh grade, my parents switched me from a majority-white Catholic school to a more diverse school. I quickly realized how little diversity I had been exposed to at my old school. I was happy for once not to be the only Black kid in the class.

But adjusting to a new school didn’t come easily.

Kids would ask me, “Why do you act so white?” I felt like I had to change my personality just to be accepted. I know I’m Black and that’s something I’ve never doubted. But when my peers constantly doubted my blackness, I started to question my identity.

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Then, in ninth grade, I attended a college prep program for students of color. There, my racial identity was never questioned. I was just another student. It was empowering to be in a college classroom surrounded by all people of color. That’s why I’m choosing to apply to HBCU’s. I want to continue my education in a place that will have the same type of community I found in the summer program.

But, I can’t help but feel those same insecurities from middle school coming back. Because of these doubts, I talked to some HBCU graduates about their experiences. They told me how welcoming and accepting the culture is. And they pointed out: I won’t be the first mixed-race person to attend an HBCU.

I’m confident immersing myself in my culture and history will help me become more comfortable with my identity. And at the end of the day, I can’t control how I am viewed — but I can decide where and what I want to learn.

With a Perspective, I’m Valencia White.

Valencia White is 17 and lives in El Cerrito. Her Perspective was produced by YR Media.

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