Episode Two of “Leaving Home: An HBCU Story“ was all about First Impressions. Kaiya Watson, our entering freshman had visited NCAT before, but that moment when you actually walk in “your” room for the first time with all of your clothes and little trinkets to remind you of your room at home is priceless and unforgettable.
From the moment I volunteered to assist Rustin “Roundup Russy” Moore on his documentary, “Leaving Home: An HBCU Story”, I was excited and anticipating the joy of being a part of such a production. Documenting the first 48 hours of Kaiya Watson’s time on the campus of a historically Black university, which happened to be North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (referred to as “A&T” from here on…too long to write out every time!) in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“What an awesome production this is going to be!”
Fast forward to August 13th and I’m in Greensboro alongside Rustin and we’re beginning the project. I had a camera malfunction the first day I was part of the project so I had to find ways to make myself useful (carrying luggage into Kaiya’s room, offering lotion recommendations at Target…you know, the usual stuff), but the time was also spent just having so many memories flood back into my mind of my first day on campus at Howard University.
Much like my arrival at Howard University, I was just wowed by the aura of Black optimism that surrounded us. So many variations of the Black Diaspora along with students of other races and nationalities on one campus to cultivate greatness. So many individuals eager to conquer the world, even though hesitant about having to leave home to do so.
As we carried Kaiya things up the stairs to her dorm room, I remembered my seemingly never-ending trek up the stairs to Room 513 in Drew Hall, where some lonely looking guy from New Jersey was sitting in the room by himself.
“This guy looks like a dweeb…”
Twelve years later and that guy, Brian Clarke, is still someone I consider my best friend – a brother gained through the journey of life…and seeing as I arrived wearing a plaid shirt and khaki shorts (above the knee, mind you) the feeling was mutual upon first glance.
I was surprised when Kaiya was disappointed in the appearance of her room. Compared to the accommodations afforded us in Drew Hall (no AC, schizophrenic elevator, rodents, cold tile floors, need I go on?), Aggie Suites were luxurious! I mean, they had a microwave AND a refrigerator in every room!
“These new age kids don’t know how good they got it”
The atmosphere on A&T’s campus felt like a reunion of sorts. A connection to family that you never knew you had, but that has been waiting just for you. While many freshmen were arriving from from all over North Carolina as well as the DC-Maryland-Virgina (DMV) area which is a reasonable five hours away, I couldn’t help but empathize for Kaiya making a journey literally from the other side of the country. There are no easy weekend trips home or surprise visits from parents. I had empathy for her, but also saw a lot of strength in making such a decision, knowing that it will only make her stronger as a person once she completes the journey.
“What a great HBCU ambassador she will be once she graduates.”
I returned home to Durham later that evening, exhausted physically and mentally, but eager to return the next day to continue assisting in documenting Kaiya’s journey.
Just had to make a quick run to my camera shop to get a camera that worked.
Watch Episode Two of ‘Leaving Home: An HBCU Story”
Today marks the 38th annual Bayou Classic and for the 3rd year in a row, they have announced the “Lowest Attendance in History” with a little over 40K attendees. This is not rarity in Classics, Homecomings and even general regular season scheduled games in all HCBU sports.
What is the missing link?
Please share your thoughts below in the comment section and lets discuss change.
Melissa Valle, Howard University Alum describes her experience at an HBCU campus and recalls the day she left home to attend college.
Thanksgiving is such a special day, such a special time. For me, it’s that one time of the year where I truly take a break to reflect upon the many blessings bestowed upon me by The Creator during the year…because, let’s face it, when it comes to efficiency and productivity the year is pretty much over!
As I was making a list of ten things that I am grateful for on this Thanksgiving, I kept coming up with an equal amount of things that also annoyed the heck out of me in 2011 (I won’t curse today).
So I made two lists – like to read ’em? Here it goes!
I Am Thankful For…
10. Astro – If you’re a fan of hip hop then you HAVE to be a fan of this 15-year-old from Brooklyn who is breathing life back into the genre on FOX’s X Factor; dude is the truth. He had a bratty moment a couple of weeks ago when he landed in the bottom two, but he’s a 15-year-old from Brooklyn…shouldn’t that be expected?
9. The 2011 NBA Playoffs – It was awesome. A great game every single night that culminated with the “do it the right way” Dallas Mavericks taking home the title.
8. Technology – Instagram, Siri, Spotify, Tumblr, etc. Technology and means to access and share information continue to get better and become more accessible to laymen. Steve Jobs would be so proud.
7. Freedom – As much as we complain about the good ol’ U.S. of A., there are a number of freedoms that I am glad to enjoy. Access to information (see previous listing) so I can learn whatever I want; the freedom to decide, “You know what…I want to take photos and create videos…” Thank you, America!
6. Waka Flocka Flame – You need a dose of ignorance. Much like penicillin has a small amount of the very elements it is trying to fight off, WAKA! Is my ignorance infection of choice (pause, if necessary). I am thankful for his songs getting stuck in my hand, giving me an excuse to walk around mumbling, “Bust it/Bust it/B-b-bust it…”
5. Barack Obama – Barack Obama is this era’s one person worthy of being hung on the wall of Black American’s all over the country, a la that MLK/JFK/RFK photo that I know you’ve seen hung in that older relative’s home (no lie, my aunt has hand a version of it hung in her house easily since before I was born. He probably will be remembered for what his election meant to us more than what he actually accomplished (not all his fault; politics get tricky), but that’s cool, because now there is no reason that my future son – or daughter – can’t grow up truly believing her or she can also become President of the United States of America
4. My Career – I am able to wake up and do work that, in turn, someone believes is worthy of me to be paid for. Who couldn’t be grateful for that!?
3. Friends and Family – My family and friends are one in the same. If we’re really friends then you’re family and vice versa. In talking about my career. I have literally made thousands of dollars this year thanks to the people close to me hiring me or because of their referrals. I love the people around me like you couldn’t imagine.
2. Marriage – It is work. I tell people often that marriage is not for everyone…it can be painful at times (trust me…), but forgiveness is the key and something I am grateful for because a lesser woman would have long dropped me like a bad habit. I’m just being honest. I am super thankful for my marriage and my lovely wife.
1. Life – Because with life comes ample opportunities to be and do better. So I am most thankful for that on this day of reflection and promise to never take it for granted…you know, besides during the time I will be stuffing my face with mounds of dressing later on this day of feasting.
I am NOT Thankful For…
10. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries Marriage/Divorce – Sure, we all knew they were going to divorce eventually. Even soon…but but 72 days soon!? I’ve been constipated longer than that! TMI? Eh.
9. Herman Cain – Where’d this negro Bizarro come from!? Why is he being taken seriously!?
8. The NBA Lockout – I would lie and say I enjoy college basketball like the next man, but frankly, I don’t. I want to see Lebron, Wade, Kobe, and Dirk back on the court ASAP. I grew up a die hard NBA fan (“NBA Action is FANTASTIC!”) and I can’t change it now. It’s too late. While I do want the players to get compensated what they deserve (they shouldn’t have come down off of the 57% split, in my opinion), ultimately, I just want to see the pros get back on the court…and charge me too damn much to see them play.
7. The Basic Chick – Don’t get it twisted. The one pointing out “the basic chick” is nine times out of ten…the basic chick herself. You know her. Same black weave, same form-fitting skirt, same mirror pose – lips puckered, of course (who finds that sh*t attractive!?) – on Facebook…and has the nerve to call other females basic. She’s from the same place as Cain, for sure.
6. Social Media Prophets – You know too many of them. The one’s that are always sharing their “knowledge” with us lowly souls. You can tell they’re copy and pasting their “thoughts” because it’s the only time there are no grammatical errors in their status updates or tweets. Here’s a thought: SHUT THE HELL UP!
5. Black People vs. Statistics – Oh boy. See my full-fledge rant on this one here.
4. Terrible DJs – I’m out a lot because I photograph a number of nightlife events, and I will tell you this…we’re letting too many terrible DJs “get on”. For real. What kind of friend are we by not telling these DJs that they suck. Horribly. Just last Thursday I was one Corona away (because whose machismo doesn’t escalate upon the consumption of Coronas) from boo’ing a DJ. Apollo-style. Arms flailing and all. He was woefully bad. Probably the worst I have ever heard. I know it’s a lot of promoters. I know it’s a lot of parties. However, that is NO excuse to let a terrible DJ control the sounds. Hell…just put Pandora on.
3. Reality TV – How much more can we consume!? I don’t blame the creators. I blame the consumers *shakes angry fists at folks who watch Basketball Wives, Love and Hip Hop and Bad Girls Club* …truth be told, I f**ks with NeNe on Real Housewives of Atlanta though *shakes head in palm of own hands in shame*
2. Twitter’s Trending Topic Trickery – the misses @Angieluvboo refuses to believe that @Twitter would prevent #TroyDavis and/or #OccupyWallStreet from trending. C’mon, ma’am *looks at current trends*, you don’t think enough people were bought into those causes to have either appear in the top-10 of trending topics!? *looks at current trends* #Whatmoneycantbuy is at the top right now! Give me a break! Twitter was up to some trickery and if I didn’t want to be left out of the social loop I would quit Twitter right now! Ha ha ha…but serious, though.
1. Jerry Sandusky – I don’t think I need to say anything about that guy. I’m just mad no one has created some type of correlation between him and Herbert from “Family Guy”. Too soon, maybe?
Johnny J. Jones is a sometimes jerk, but overall good guy. A digital media specialist, connect with Johnny at http://about.me/Johnny.J.Jones.
Black people love “statistics”.
I haven’t done my own scientific study nor do I currently possess empirical data to support this, but I am convinced that this is the case…and that the media has gotten ahold of this “theory” as well.
How else can you explain the way that the release of “statistics” – especially the “findings” that paint a bleak picture for Black Americans – solicits such passionate, sweeping responses that inundate social media?