Guest Column: With striving love


Malikia Cherubala, Guest Columnist

My name is Malikia. 

I arrived at App State in January 2020, just a month and some change before we were sent home. Yet even during that very short time on campus, I flagged some things that made navigating this campus as a Black woman challenging. The first thing I picked up was that Black men were not about us Black girls. And I know some of you are chuckling, but that was a valid challenge for me in 2020. King, do you not see the fine, rich, melanated, graceful and warm Black girl walking this campus? From the fros, the braids, the hair cuts, the personality influenced nail set, the style. Like, come on now. You see where I come from. We love each other. We uplift our counterparts. We hype ‘em up. And I am not just talking about romantic relationships. When I see you King, I see a friend, a brother, someone who can relate to what life is like at a PWI, and someone I can work together with to reinforce the wonder that Black people are. If you don’t have our backs, who will? To say that the lack of reciprocal agape love in the Black community was shocking would be an understatement. We need to do better, because we are all we got. 

Thankfully, the girls are a whole lot better, except for the ones that don’t acknowledge other Black girls they bump into. Like, girl I know you see me, ‘cause I see you and we both know we are the only drop of color in the hallway, so why not say hey? Hm. Bless y’all’s heart. The community of the girls that get it, ‘cause some don’t, has been the highlight of my experience as a Black woman at a PWI. Organizations like Queen In You have been a space created by Black women for Black women. There, I breathe. I’m seen for who I am and how I’m showing up today, and not because I’m someone’s token or Black pass. There, I live my Blackness to its fullest. I speak, loud. I dance without fear of making anyone uncomfortable with the sturdy body God gave me. I laugh, cackle and snort. I’m empowered and reminded of the crown I’ve been instilled to wear, proudly.

I could go on and talk about the tokenism, fetishism, the hair petting, the othering, etc. I won’t lie to you Black girl, it’s hard out here. But it also puts a choice before you. Do you dilute your melanin or live it to its fullest? I chose the latter, and you can too. It starts with you and those you surround yourself with. Black girl, be encouraged. It’s hard out here, but our history lets us know that we don’t waver at the sight of hardship, we blaze right through it. Once you see things this way, I promise you your experience will get better, and I will be right there to cheer you on.

With striving love,