she’s got her mom’s hand and her grandma’s side eye.
Recently, I found myself in an awkward yet interesting position. While at work, I was asked to attend a federal trial. The trial taking place is currently between the Maryland Historically Black Colleges and Universities(Coppin, Morgan, Bowie, UMES) and the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The schools allege discrimination, bias, and lack of funding for students and programs. The lack of funding and programs can be attributed to segregation laws, statues, and mentalities that still linger. It is a bench trial which means the judge will have the final say. But if the judge finds that HBCUs have been shortchanged and discounted, this decision can impact HBCUs nationwide.
The trial was extremely interesting because I am the product of a historically black college(Bennett College), and because I support the mission and purpose of HBCUs. HBCUs are fundamental for the educational advancement of minority students in particular. Many states want schools to lose their identity as historically black institutions in order to attract students of other races and nationalities, so states tend to try to assimilate the schools in order to give them funding. This is a case that I am planning to continue to watch.
Sitting in the trial, I was reminded of the privilege I had to attend an HBCU, and my passion for education policy. I was thrilled to be listening to this trial but I was also fully disgusted. I was glad to be able to hear such a landmark trial but I was disgusted because I was used as a pawn, poster child, or “token” black person for the sake of political gain and ambitions. My boss wanted me included not necessarily because this trial impacts me or others like me, but because it was politically correct on his part especially during an election year. It was politically correct to have black students from HBCUs involved because he is running against a black preacher in the primary election. He wanted me to be a part because a local newspaper was running an article and he wanted the world to know that he supports black people.
The true character and nature of the man I work for came forth, and I saw the light. My perspective of him has drastically changed. I felt so used, manipulated, insignificant, and voiceless because even if I brought it to his attention, denial would protrude. I never imagined being in such a predicament where I would be the token.
Now more than ever I am on a mission to work for myself, and develop the discipline necessary to proceed forth with my dreams and ambitions. I never ever want to feel the way that I did, or be used the way that I was. I can only imagine the way slave women felt when they were raped by white slave masters. The same anger, resentment, and hatred ran through my veins in that moment.
"NY, NY is where I wanna be! Sunny LA is even cool with me!"
James, who was diagnosed with leukemia 2010, had been in poor health for some time.
Affectionately known as Miss Peaches, the Matriarch of R&B had multiple Grammys to her name, and was inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.
Incidentally, the man who discovered James, Johnny Otis, passed away just yesterday.
Below: James sings “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” in 1962.