I was in the 11th grade when I knew I wanted to be a journalist. My English teacher used to have us read books like “Hamlet,” short story books about romance and death and many other things that always had me interested.
I liked her class so much because she allowed me to write freely and she made me feel comfortable and confident in my writing skills. My teacher had a wife and a son and always shared it proudly that she was a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
There were no Black teachers in the high schools that I went to, let alone a gay teacher. So when I, a bisexual student who is also a Black woman, walked into her class for the first time, I knew I found a safe haven and someone who understood me.
Coming to Ferris, I’m still currently trying to find my safe haven. I have made friends and we talk about raising awareness, however, there is always that bridge of how we could do that with our majors.
When you’re in social settings and people say what their major is, there’s a 50% chance of someone saying “I’m in that major too!” For me, that was a 5% or less chance of one of my Black friends saying they’re majoring in journalism as well.
According to Ferris’ 2021 fact book, 818 Black or African American students enrolled in Ferris and only 18 of those people picked journalism as their major. You can imagine that number dwindling if we considered how many of those students are both Black and female.
So when I’m in my journalism classes, I always feel like a unicorn. I’m always the only Black student in the class, so it seems like I automatically stick out like a sore thumb. It’s like the feeling when you’re on stage and all eyes are on you.
When certain events happen, I am the only person who is willing to speak on it, as if I’m the only person that sees it as important. For example, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man and father of a one-year-old son, was killed on Jan. 27 in an act of police brutality, and it was all recorded on a body camera. No one has mentioned it or talked about it besides the day it happened.
Feeling like you’re the voice for your people in certain situations is not only a heavy burden to carry but also a lot to take on. When I expressed these things to my mother, she gave me advice that I will always remember.
“You are my child, which automatically makes you unique, but being unique does not make it a bad thing. Use it to your advantage, and always speak your mind, even if you’re alone.”
My mom reminded me that it’s okay to be a unicorn. It’s okay to be the only person different in the room, and to never try to be like anyone else or fit in. Everyone always likes unicorns, and when you see one, you never mistake it for being something else.
So, I will always use my voice to speak and advocate for my community. I will take the responsibility to be the voice when people cannot. I will be a unicorn and a proud one at that.