For Black students, the pressure to do and be better is inherited. We learn early on in life that we have to be twice as good, and work twice as hard, just to get half as much as our counterparts.
For Black college students, this pressure doubles. Our efforts triple, or collapse in on themselves. Failure is no longer an option because now our future depends on it. The realization that getting paid less and constantly underestimated is what stands in the way of healing and stability…it’s terrifying.
The general philosophy that our choices decide our future is a delusion that Black students cannot afford. Regardless of our choices, good or bad, they are often defined, judged, and juried first based on race and not circumstance or personhood. This applies in every aspect of our lives, and not just in the classroom.
The constant feeling of needing to do better, wanting to do better and succeed, for ourselves and for our families can be all-consuming. Talking about the weight of the world on our shoulders isn’t an easy feat. Frankly, admitting you’re struggling or in a low place is hard to address in the mirror let alone to someone else.
Depression and anxiety in Black students are only exacerbated by the additions of finance, racism, and higher-than-average expectations. The everyday impact of microaggressions and stereotyping are hard to combat when you are already in a state of distress. Establishing a safe space on college campuses is essential to the support and success of Black college students. Training faculty, staff, and even peers to be considerate of their unconscious biases when interacting with Black and POC students will help take a bit of weight off our shoulders and create more inclusive campuses.
To Black students, don’t be afraid to ask for help and keep doing the impossible.
Russell, Tonya. “Depression in Black College Students.” Psych Central, Healthline Media, 18 June 2021, https://psychcentral.com/depression/what-to-know-about-depression-in-black-college-students#causes.
For Further Reading:
Cooper, Brittney, and Author. “Being a Black Woman in America Means Realizing That Doing Everything Right May Not Be Enough.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 15 May 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/amp/ncna874171.
Richards, Bedelia Nicola. “How to Create Inclusive Environments for Black Students on Predominantly White College Campuses.” Scholars Strategy Network, Scholars Strategy Network, 7 Feb. 2019, https://scholars.org/contribution/how-create-inclusive-environments-black-students-predominantly-white-college-campuses.