The Harsh Reality Of Being Black, Woman, and Abroad

“If it gets to be too much, or if you start feeling like you’re in danger, you call the university and tell them to bring you right back to Chicago.”

I was on the phone with my mother discussing my upcoming study abroad trip to Europe. “I hope they like Black people there”, I joked with a tinge of seriousness. Though I spoke solid French, I deliberately chose to complete my minor in a German-speaking country: Austria. After committing to the program, I caught up with a friend who had recently studied abroad and he shared the rampant racism he both witnessed and experienced in Mexico.

Black August

My generation has started both online/offline revolutions in 2013. Yes, that’s right. The twerking, selfie photo obsessed, and tweet happy children of the late eighties and early nineties have found it in our hearts and minds to stand for the social, political, and spiritual liberation of all oppressed people. In an age where folks shun us for our sagging pants, we’ve learned how to elevate above the rhetoric through our work on the ground. Whether it’s the Dream Defenders occupying the Florida State Capitol building to push for a change in public policy, or the Bois of Baltimore providing a safe space for womyn who identify as masculine-of-center to build an uplifting and transformative movement; young people of color have made it very clear that we are willing to fight for what we believe in.


This year many folks in Generation X are observing Black August. Don’t believe me? Just check #blackaugust on Twitter to see the discourse. This month and year mark the 33rd anniversary of the existence and observance of Black August, the movement that honors the radical resistance, resilience, and collective action of Afrikan peoples of the Diaspora. From the Haitian Revolution, to Underground Railroad, to the March on Washington, to the Watts uprisings, people of color have been resisting colonization for centuries. As we continue to develop and grow our revolutionary movement built on the foundation provided by our foremothers and forefathers, we must  not forget the sacrifices that were made by them.

Wild Thing

By AJ Thomas

20-years old



When I woke up this morning I was a Black woman.


It’s not to say that I wasn’t one before, but on this occasion I had changed. My skin was brown, my hair was curly, and my lips were full. I had become a Black woman; I had become a wild thing.


In his poem entitled “Self-pity” the poet D. H. Lawrence says, “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.” My metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly was a slow process.

To All Afraid of the ‘Ghetto’ Continued


I was delighted by the discussion my last blog post- “To All Afraid of the ‘Ghetto’”- sparked both online and on the University of Chicago campus. Many of my classmates approached me about the blog and gave even more personal accounts on comments the pervade our campus from our administration, the University of Chicago Police Department, and an overwhelming amount of students that actively other black neighborhoods and discourage people from entering into these spaces. It was especially fruitful to engage in the often-ignored discussion on violence and crime in predominantly white neighborhoods and sexual assaults that occur frequently at several universities and colleges. Nevertheless, while I did receive much vindication, I also received much flack. A number of individuals (mostly classmates) approached me essentially contending that poor black neighborhoods are innately more dangerous and that majority white neighborhoods-in urban and suburban areas- are inherently safer.

Black History Spotlight: Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego-Trippin'”

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, educator and activist.

Active since the 1960’s, her work runs the gamut thematically; delving into a variety of themes — black pride, sexism, cultural memory and love, to name a few — with incredible beauty, grace and power.

Her finest moment might be “Ego-Trippin’,” a funny and empowering ode to blackness that read and flows like a funkier “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”

Check it out below:

Invisible Man

Court Theater, the professional theater located on the University of Chicago’s campus, premiered Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man last month. I haven’t read the novel since high school and was ripped open all over again, seeing Ellison’s words acted out on stage. I was surprised to feel such a deep connection to the emotions experienced in the play in our modern time. To be confused about how to live out a racial identity, obligation to others in the same group, or to experience deep anger with those outside of the race is still existent today. However, the time that has passed since the time this novel was written would lead one to believe that the words would have some dissonance from today’s reality.