I Matter–We Matter

Growing up poor in the lowcountry of South Carolina, I knew that getting a good education was my way out. I thought that with a degree, nothing would be impossible for me. My schools were predominently black, I attended school in what became known as the Corridor of Shame. Believe this, I am never ashamed to say that I am a graduate of the Hampton County School District 2 system.
My father left school during his middle school years and my mother is a high school graduate. My sisters and I are first generation college graduates. We understand being poor, not having enough to eat, not even having a bathroom in our home for most of our formative years.
One thing we were never made to feel by our parents is that we were less than or somehow should settle for the bottom, because the top was not designed for us.
My dad, with his middle school education frequently checked my book bag for grades and challenged me when he saw even a B.
I wasn’t rich, I wore shoes with holes in them to school, and I depended a lot on the free school meals that I received and other life decisions I made was not a recipe for success.
With all of these obstacles against me, I never felt less than.
Graduating from high school was extremely special. I was Salutatorian of my graduating class and earned the distinction of being a Clemson Scholar, a full tuition scholarship to Clemson University. One of the teachers at my school invested in me and took me to visit Clemson’s campus and I knew that I had finally achieved what I was fighting for throughout my secondary education. My change had come, but boy I couldn’t imagine how that change would really affect my life.
My first day on campus was move in day. I was full of excitement and fear. I got my room assignment and discovered that my roommate and I were assigned to an overflow room (basically a converted closed with bunk beds, a chest of drawers and two desks). I was told that it was only temporary, so I was excited to meet my roommate. When I got to the door and saw my name on the door, my heart lept for joy. I saw my roommate’s name and opened the door. When I walked in, my roommate’s eyes expanded like saucers and her parents almost gasped.
She had already claimed the lower bunk and she was almost fully unpacked. We made small talk about our small space and how we would make due until we could move into something bigger. I left to get the rest of my things and when I returned, it was like something innocent left my body and I have never felt the same since. Upon my return, my roommate was gone. Somehow in the time it took me to go to the car and return with my items, she had stripped the bed, emptied the shelves of her folded clothing, marked through her name on the door and vanished.
I thought I had arrived and I discovered that my journey had just begun. Our skin color is our existance and I will not apologize for who I was created to be. I spent years after that dorm room experience trying to prove that I am enough-I’m just like you, only to be met with the fact that because I am a black woman my efforts don’t matter, even if I was the smartest, most talented—the MVP in the room.
I came to understand that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and I am more than enough. I matter. We matter.

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