College friendships: A match made in what?

Inayah Avant | Staff Writer

Flickr User Ellen Montgomery 

Growing up, I had the tendency to draw the unfair parallel between Sesame Street and real life, but more specifically, the relationships shared between the characters.

I now understand that Sesame Street served as a sort of childhood introduction to the ideal multicultural community.

A street where your neighbors are supportive yet push them to closely examine their own personal biases and boundaries.

Think about it: Oscar lived in low-income housing but was never ostracized because of his unique living conditions.

Big Bird was clearly an abnormally large, sometimes clumsy canary, but was never labeled as “other,” and no one ever questioned the validity of Bert and Ernie’s relationship.

As each episode ended, I found myself dreaming about living in a similar environment.

I am now aware that that just isn’t plausible. Well, not in the same capacity.

Friendships are tricky, fickle little chaps that can have extraordinary effects on us whether it be positive or negative.

College is a weird place. I think we have all safely established that. Now, adding friendships to the mix just makes it downright spooky at times. I mean some of us are coming from backgrounds where we are only children or are used to having siblings around at all times.

Sure, we all have friends from high school or sports teams, but here in college, it’s different.

At home, we saw our friends at school and chose whether or not to spend time with them on the weekends or whenever else.

We had more distinct lines distinguishing our interactions: family, close friends, acquaintances and people we could not (or cannot) get down with.

I was more maneuverable.

Here, that stuff is for the birds. In the span of months, complete strangers have turned into our most trusted confidants — walking diaries, if you will — friendships sown together at a quicker and shorter rate than compared to those at home.

And, at times, sown badly.

Let’s take it back to August when my fellow Ogres and I first arrived.

Everyone was open to meeting new people. It was normal to introduce yourself to random people in line for French fries or to start a conversation with someone living on your hall, but the switch-up is real.

As people become closer and “cliques” begin to form, it becomes harder and harder to open up to new people, especially if you’ve already been burned by one of the previously mentioned walking diaries (no shade!).

Here, I think, it’s harder to differentiate between those who have your best interest in mind and those who may not give two flying figs about you.

I would bet that a number of you reading this could also attest to that, but I have also learned that that is OK, too.

Instead of becoming upset about a friendship lost, think of it more as a lesson.

Ask yourself questions such as what you may have learned from that person about yourself.

Take it as a positive lesson rather than a negative. Oftentimes, strangers are the ones who teach us the most about ourselves.

As I continue to grow up, I have become considerably less naive in my understanding of people, and with that ever-growing knowledge, I can safely say that Sesame Street is a much better hypothetical utopia than some unattainable goal.

Friendships are difficult and messy at times but also astonishingly beautiful in others.

Jayla Poindexter, a first-year, five-year psychology major from Chesapeake, Virginia, was concise when asked about why friendships are necessary as well as difficult:

“Friendship, to me, is about loyalty and acceptance; it’s about loving someone through their faults,” Poinderxter said.

“ A hardship of friendship that I am still learning to navigate is that people are so different, and as a result, potential conflict could happen. (But) in true friendship, it’s good that you’re always there even though you may not agree with their decisions. It’s about supporting your person … depending on the situation.”

And with this, I leave you with a very simple yet eloquent quote from none other than our dearest and most trusted friend (I hope you’re picking up on the sarcasm here), Justin Bieber:

“Friends are the best to turn to when you’re having a rough day.”

That’s sort of what it all boils down to … right?


Let’s talk diversity

Inayah Avant | Staff Writer

Not too long ago I went to a panel discussion put on by NAMIE called, “Exploring the African Diaspora,” meaning the discussion would be centered around the diversity in the Black and African experience.

Saying that I was pumped would be the understatement of the century.

When I arrived to the event, I found a seat ready to be enlighten, however, as the orator directed questions to the panel of five students

I was awash with a myriad of emotions ranging from surprise, to utter disappointment. I realize now that the panelists were probably learning about diversity just as I am, so I shouldn’t be so critical.

Furthermore, I am by no means shading NAMIE; I applaud them for being the catalyze of necessary discussions.

However, I do believe they missed the mark.

Whenever one of the five individuals were asked a question pertaining to diversity in the Black community their responses seemed almost textbook.

Their answers ranged from hair texture, to and unfortunately that seemed as though that is where the story ends.

While these are pertinent topics that need to be addressed and deserve a stage, I couldn’t help but wish to scream, “That isn’t the only thing that makes us diverse as a community!”

So, what is diversity, since you seem to know so much about it?

Well, I’m going to keep it stack; I have only very recently understood the multiplicity of the Black community and am still learning but I do think we need to consider broadening our scope.

Armed with the question of what diversity is as it pertains to the Black community I hit the streets to inquire after other people’s beliefs.

Amani Boyce, a first year Political Science major from Brooklyn, New York.

When asked the previously mentioned question her answer was straight to the point, “Diversity to me in the Black community are the different socioeconomic standings in the Black community, skin color, and your background.”

To be Black and young in America today (to me) is to understand that there are Blacks that are rich and play polo, Blacks that paint, Blacks that speak Mandarin and are obsessed with architecture, Blacks that are sneakerheads that have been formally trained in ballet for 14 years, Blacks that are atheist, Blacks that love robots, or engines, or interested in shoe making, or bread making or, or, or, or.

Do you get what I’m trying to say?

To be Black in America is to live with the understanding that everyone around will you (including your fellow brothers and sisters) will put you in a box.

To be Black in America is to understand that you have the drive, capacity, and courage to do anything but must convince those around you that you being “different” isn’t breaking a mold!

I have a recently developed hobby of walking around the library and finding a book at random to read (#EnglishMajorTingz) and I stumbled across a book named Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Art & Literature. 

I bring Role Call up now because, to me, it stands as a physical representation of the capabilities of the Black (creatives) mind; the varying pasts we come from, our circumstances, our passions, and pains vary so much!

So, I challenge you with this: Reevaluate what diversity may mean to you, broaden your intellectual curiosity, ask questions, you may find that you may have been living in a box as well.

Crack the lid, the lessons waiting to be wafted in are breathtaking.