How to Survive Your First Year at a Predominantly White Institution*

*with a (paraphrased) line from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

1. At the break of dawn, call your mother. Let her know her baby is still alive.

2. Layer your body wisely: no hoodies. Leave the Skittles in your dorm. Never carry

Arizona Iced tea.

3. Head to class. Armor yourself with all the education you can muster.

4. Swiftly scan the room for a black person. She will become your home base.

5. Make eye contact & communicate telepathically: I see you too, homie.

6. March past white classmate as s/he fixates his/her eyes to his/her phone when s/he brushes past you.

7. Get used to the invisibility—an unwanted superpower.

(you are invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see you)

8. Call your mother. Let her know her baby is still alive.

9. Locate the nearest cafeteria:

realize that unseasoned chicken is always in season.

10. Do your time.

11. Keep your head down, or else:

12. Be loud.

13. Make noise:

Let them know that you are here;

that your life matters;

that you matter.

14. Be beautiful. Be

15. bold. Be

16. black.

17. At every moonlight, call your mother—

18. do it monthly,



Let her know her baby is still alive.


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