Header image: Speaker Virgil Khalid Griffin
The Iota Chi Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority hosted an I Love My HBCU/Reflection U event at Turner Chapel AME church, 836 East Jefferson Blvd., for prospective students looking to learning more about and apply to historically black colleges and universities. The three-hour seminar included a light lunch (with a screening from the TV show “Blackish”), a tutorial about the college application process, and concluded with a panel discussion.
Pastor and Principle Virgil Khalid Griffin gave a powerful, comment-and-query inducing self-awareness talk entitled “The Importance of Consciousness: Seeing Myself Through My Eyes.” Here’s just a snippet of Griffin discussing attending a predominately white school as a young child:
“I remember very, very well, in the second grade, my mom telling me ‘Son, there are certain things you can’t do because when you do them they won’t be interpreted as the same.’ Right there in that moment, she was developing, not my awareness, but my understanding of my role and what it meant to be black. Now as cruel as harsh as that sounds…she didn’t say because you’re black but she was planting those seeds, and as I got older, I started to see, man I didn’t even do nothing and the teacher thought it was me.
“I tell my students there are two kinds of targets we put on our backs: one we put there, and the other society puts there, right or wrong, that’s what it is. So many of us spend time trying to remove the targets so we overcompensate so we’re not labeled like a stereotypical black. That’s what understanding is. Because if you’re just aware and you don’t understand, you’re going walk around this world and can’t figure out why certain things are happening to you.”