We ambitiously came to college with expectations and dreams tucked in our new student orientation pocket folders.
Our folks back home were proud of us but didn't know what to make of the experience we were about to have.
We had our doubts: Can I keep up with my coursework? Would I be able to fit in? Will I make it?
But we were confident. Confident in ourselves and that we were making the right choice. The right school, in the right place, with the right people.
Then during new student orientation we overheard:
The father who complained that his son couldn't get a work-study job because he did not have or needed financial aid.
The people who couldn't pronounce our name and were curious about our origins.
The orientation staff who meant to help but were surprised by how surprised we were of everything.
The students who went around in circles talking about their summers in France, Brazil and China...none of these trips being academic or volunteer related.
And those same students who we met, invited us for sushi off campus but we didn't go because we couldn't afford to go.
Remember those first few months?
We stayed in our rooms and only left to go to the dinning commons and classes. Even in those spaces we felt alone.
We did and sometimes did not call friends and family back home to talk about what was going on.
We started looking at transfer applications and study abroad programs.
We considered counseling but did not want to be judged wrongly. We did not want pity.
By then we realized that instead of making the right choice we made the white choice.
We had never been surrounded by so many white folks before. Their culture engulfed the campus and surrounding areas leaving very little room for our own. We felt compressed. Marginalized. Neglected. Othered. Inadequate. Inferior. Different. Not white.
Our color showed. Our race and culture were put on display. Our perception of ourselves was being shaped by how we deviated from whiteness and not how we self-identified. We were called ethnic, urban, multicultural, diverse, exotic and hybrid. We were expected to be at the forefront on everything race related, and our faces were called upon during every annual diversity day.
We were the undergrads of color who considered dropping out when the culture shock was too much.
However, we stayed. Somehow we found a community of support and a home to be ourselves. We join student groups that mattered to us. We became activists, poets, journalist, researchers and educators. We collaborated with other students that shared similar experiences. We found our needed laughter, our joy and our reason to endure and see college through.
Unfortunately, as we know, some of our friends did not make through. They transferred, dropped out, went home and some...well we know what happened to some of them. Sometimes we wondered what we could have done to keep our friends around. We tried talking to them but we did not always get through. What if we had something that spoke to them? That told their story like no one else could? Or could provide another solution to all the ordeals they all faced?
What if the Mixed Race Mixtape, a hip-hop theater play detailing the semi-autobiographical story of a mixed race Latin@ man grappling with proclaiming his identity throughout his life, was shown at our colleges and universities? Forget about what the college administrators would think about it. Think about how the narrative of the Mixed Race Mixtape is similar to our own experiences? Think about what answers to our questions about race, culture and class would arise? Think about the amount of healing and empowerment we could receive from such a show? Think about it but not in the same thought pattern as we did when we considered dropping out. See this work as something that could've helped pull/keep us in. See this as the message your friend needed before they dropped out. See this as the story for undergrads of color who considered dropping out when the culture shock was too much.
For us from,