The purpose of I-banking is to increase the ready capital of one’s clients and therefore perpetuate the unequal and harmful distribution of wealth currently in existence in the U.S. The overwhelming wealth of America ($12 trillion GDP…over 7.5 times that of the combined GDP of the 54 countries that make up Africa) is sickening at times. Most people at Harvard do not care about these facts because they have little or no personal experience with poverty, racism, or related issues. They have never attended a majority Black public school where you enter with nearly 1,000 peers though graduate with only 350. They have never had to restrain their illiterate grandmother from going outside for a walk around the neighborhood due to excessive violence there. They have never had to wait in large rooms with others on public assistance in the basement of their city hall to receive medical care. Nope. Never.
Whether Blacks in Nigeria or Blacks in Newtowne Courts (one of Cambridge’s public housing developments), many are dumbfounded when they hear that Black students attend Harvard University. The combined astonishment, excitement, and inspiration that they feel is remarkable. Just today one of the kids I work with in the aforementioned after school program told me that she wanted to go to Harvard. That’s wassup. So many Blacks the world over are depending on individuals such as myself who are Black, from humble beginnings and “down” to show them the way to equality and freedom that it’s staggering. Sadly, many of these Blacks the world over falsely feel that all Blacks at Harvard are “down”. If they only knew that most Blacks at Harvard are not only complacent in their social and economic positions gained while at (or through) Harvard or innately through parents before coming to this University but many actively seek to enter jobs that will serve to further oppress them, they would cry rivers. Aren’t we supposed to be that “Talented Tenth” that Du Bois talked about over a century ago in The Souls of Black Folk? Aren’t we supposed to bind with our brothers and sisters at Yale, Princeton, Stanford and the like along with those at Howard, Morehouse, and Hampton and attend to the immense task of the upliftment of our roughly one billion person race? Yeah, but who wants to do this when you can work 80 hours a week for Lehman Brothers (and never make partner), live in Brooklyn Heights (and never have a BBQ), and send your kids to Collegiate (and never place them in an environment where they’re remotely accepted)?
Getting back to my original point–my discomfort at Harvard–this discomfort lies in my struggle to find a community I feel fully at home in. The Blacks at Harvard are not like the Blacks that I grew up with in Trenton. These two groups of people have no basis for a present day relationship. Their relationship would be one based on history only (“we’ve both been categorized as Black”…”we’re both derived from Southern slave families”…etc.). At the same time, I’m clearly not comfortable in the greater community at Harvard that is White, grew up with two parents, and from “oh, just twenty minutes outside” some city. For these reasons, I find myself regressing more and more into the social justice community. This community is a rainbow coalition of sorts that draws its members from many different populations on campus, even some previously ridiculed or highlighted in this very blog (paragraph at that). These individuals and I get down on the same issues–the liberation of oppressed groups. Whether this oppressed group be women, homosexuals, the poor, Blacks (oh yeah), or whoever else this is what they ride for. That’s why I’m a feminist. That’s why you may catch me at a BGLTSA meeting sometime before I graduate (shout out to Mischa). That’s why you can catch me in the hood in Mission Hill on a regular chilling with people that, not jokingly, have to work to be considered poor.
I recognize my membership and role in a social and economic group that I MUST work to better. If only more people here did instead of, when soliciting recruiters, bringing I-bankers; financial consultants; and violent, imperialist government-supporting U.S. Department of Defense reps to come and make their PR ratings go up then Harvard and the world would be a much better place for it. I bet you they’ll send the Black guy, once again into a social situation at a different institution that he is uncomfortable in. Karma…gotta love it.