Do I Belong?


I recently wrote a paper on the iconic author James Baldwin, who was a prolific writer in the United States for his contributions towards racial and queer justice. I really enjoyed this assignment because aside from learning about the awesome person James Baldwin, it made me consider an important idea that relates to a question I’ve asked myself before, Do I belong? And I think the answer is somewhere here where I wrote:

“During his lifetime, James Baldwin did not become a figure of protest as much as he became a figure of self-acceptance and evaluation through his literature which society then deemed as a protest in itself for existing during a time in which it was considered highly radical to be perceived as something other than what was the United States’ standard.”

James Baldwin • 1924 – 1987

The reason I wanted to include this sentence is that I find it compelling that many people who are considered influential for their activism are at the same time often perceived as inherently existing within a deficit in comparison to whatever is considered the status quo. This way of thinking is perhaps habitual, but it perpetuates the idea that individuals who are disenfranchised by a system are no longer in charge of their own humanity when this couldn’t be further from the truth. So I wanted to remind you as a reader that whatever challenges you may be facing in your personal or professional life do not define you, because whether you’re an International Student coming to the United States for the first time or an in-state Transfer Student transitioning for the first time, your presence is an asset to wherever you choose to assert it because your perspectives are powerfully unique!

There are still weeks like this one for example (my exam week) when my teacher sends out a review sheet that causes my eyes to dance in a daze as I scan the list of formulas it feels like I’ve never seen before, but it’s only after I take a breath and look closer that I realize what felt like a foreign concept to me is actually familiar after all. Sometimes all it takes is just a moment of pause and reflection to remember you’ll be alright. So wherever you envision yourself being one day or perhaps are trying to envision yourself, just remember it’s exactly where you belong.

The University of Cincinnati • 10/28/21

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