Istill remember the day I was sitting on my grandmother’s porch and got the idea that I wanted to go to college. College was not something that was drilled into me as a young child. It was a tool and a means to change my surroundings. No way did I want to be confined to the square-mile radius known as South Central, Los Angeles all my life.
During that time when I had the epiphany on my grandmother’s porch, I was awoled. I had gotten kicked out of Dorsey High School and decided to leave my foster home.
After realizing that if I in fact expected to get to college, I was wasting valuable time during a small window of opportunity. I knew I had to get back on the grind–quick.
Soon after, we had a meeting with my social worker who relayed that she could sign custody over to my grandmother or I could go to a group home. I remember telling the social workers that I would rather go back to foster care because if I stayed with my grandmother, I would probably just end up running the streets with my cousins.
Zenith Group Home for girls, located on Crenshaw in between Manchester and Century, would be my new home for at least a year. I was enrolled into Inglewood High School.
It used to be my dream to go to college.
I don’t expect people who never lived in the inner city to understand what we are rising up from, to even make it to an even playing-field.
I went to night-school and community college to make up the missing credits I had lost during my time awoled. With no one else in my family who had been to college before me, I did not have a guarantee I would make it to college but I knew I had to make myself eligible to apply.
When I ask students especially those from Los Angeles or the Bay area why they chose to attend Humboldt State University, they always say, “it was the furthest away, without going out of state.” Always.
Why did I decide to attend HSU? I always say, HSU chose me. After I got accepted into their Educational Opportunity Program, I got calls from HSU very frequently to ask me if I would attend the school.
I applied to HSU because you could apply to five CSU’s during the application process. I had met one of HSU’s recruiters at the Black College Expo (why is HSU allowed to take up space at the Black College expo??). I never even knew Humboldt County existed.
At that same college expo I met recruiters from Tuskegee University, the historically Black university founded by Booker T. Washington. I still remember when I got my acceptance letter to Tuskegee. I was so happy!
Although there was never a guarantee I would make it to college I still worked hard, set a goal and stuck with it. Through this tenacity, I was accepted into eight universities. Not bad for a girl from the ghetto who wasn’t coached on college and who got the idea her sophomore year of high-school.
The reason I attended HSU over the five HBCU’s that I was accepted into all came down to a dorm deposit fee waiver. I will not say that HSU is the worst decision that I made in my life but I will say that I definitely feel cheated after all that hard work I put in to make it to college. When I wake up these days I feel like I blew it.
I worked so hard to make it “out the ghetto” just to come to Humboldt County? What the fuck was I thinking? When you are a young, first generation college student, you have no clue what to look for in a college other than if they have the major you are interested in.
What I’ll say to any Black youth and parent who is off to college soon is: Do your research. We can not afford to send our youth to these institutions and blindly believe they have our best interest at heart. College is a business and it seems many are just concerned with enrollment; not the experiences of students of color.
Research the school demographics and history as well as the surrounding area. One thing to look for is how well are Black people represented in the institution. What I found during my undergrad at HSU, is that these predominantly white colleges are one of the main places that white supremacy reigns and is reinforced.
Without support groups and mentors on campus that can identify with Black students, I don’t think PWI’s are the most healthy for Black youth. Especially those coming from the inner city.
While attending HSU I always felt the school did not give a fuck about these vulnerable, Black youth they were bringing into a secluded, small, non-diverse town.
To find out that two, Black-male students had been murdered while attending HSU and the school did not care if they got justice, only confirmed my suspicions.
HSU has a terrible time retaining students of color past their second year and I always felt that it has a lot to do with the makeup and location of the school.
Although I graduated from HSU (definitely should have transferred) the experience has left a sour taste in my mouth. After following the cases of murdered students for a year after I graduated, I will always have an eerie view of Humboldt State and Humboldt County in general.
So much for dreams that soon turned into a nightmare.