Remember that moment when you realized you that you were actually going to be staying in that college dorm room after your friends and family left that first day? I think to all of us, it felt like a closet; a cold lifeless space that lacked ALL of the luxuries of our room at home.
I remember that shopping trip with my parents and brother. There were two categories of items; the ones I wanted, the things my parents and brother knew I needed. Although I distinctly remember being salty that day just like Kaiya was, I remember those small things that I never thought I needed or had on my wishlist were what got me through my first few weeks in a strange place alone. Amongst those items were a box fan from AMES grocery store to place in my window [That’s right, no central air], some flip flops for the shower and Buric Acid for any unwanted guests.
It was very funny to me as I followed Kaiya and family to re-live these same moments and feelings. I hope it struck a memory chord with you too.
Please leave a comment and share with your social circle.
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”
The second installment of “Leaving Home – An HBCU Story,” which traces the journey of a rising freshman as she leaves Los Angeles to attend college at North Carolina A&T University. There is such a juggle of emotions that we all experience during times of transition and growth. We did our best to capture it all in hopes of starting the college conversation with the kids in our families and neighborhoods.
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.
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