How Do I Fit?
I’ll never forget the day when I was made to realize that I am black in a predominantly white environment. It was spring 2006, I was leaving 8th grade to enter 9th so I had to find a new school. I found a great school, Holy Innocents Episcopal High School in Atlanta and visited on a Shadow Day to see what the school day was like. The day was pretty normal, we had English class, Science class, free periods and all the normal high school things that happen. This day was different though, this was the day I truly learned that my skin made a difference in how people viewed my abilities and me.
A student asked me, “What sport do you play?”
“I play basketball and run track," I answered, proud to share that my physical hard work and dedication were as important to me as my scholastic aptitude.
They replied, "Oh sweet! Our basketball team is going to be so amazing now that you'll be coming here."
I replay this moment in my head constantly reminding myself that a) he was an awkward socially ill-exposed student with a singular world vision, and b) I am different and I will have to work twice as hard to be seen as, Kramer, a fellow student and not a highlight reel on the hardwood. This exchange, although small, really carved out how I really wanted to be seen. One thing I had on my side were my best friends who also planned to attend. We were a group of three coming from middle schools and found safety in our affinity and strong family support. We were all going through these issues together and I really think that’s a major reason which made my experience so much better in high school.
Although there were other comments by select limited people, the school provided support and direction, which proved invaluable to my development as an African American male in this society. I developed an ability to know I am a strong young adult that pushes through adversity and positively influences his community. I learned that I am strong. I am powerful. I am Highly Educated and Happily Melanated.