By Courtney Reynolds | firstname.lastname@example.org
Since I started attending Flagler College last fall semester, as a transfer student from the University of South Carolina, I have became accustomed to the stares that I receive from the locals as well as the students. The stares approach me as though, if people stare at me hard enough, maybe the color of my skin will “melt away” under their radiating glares and reveal something totally different.
It’s almost as if African Americans are a rare commodity down here in St. Augustine, but what I find intriguing is that this particular city has the richest Black History to offer than any other city in the United States. St. Augustine became a pivotal point in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s.
Now why, with the incredible advancements that we have made as a society, is race still such a taboo issue left unresolved?
My personal experience while working at Flagler Legacy, is that tourists who visit are surprised as well that the college could employ African Americans and it not be for minimum-wage jobs or to play sports on scholarship, but because of their own free will and intelligence.
During the Christmas holidays, while working at the Legacy, I was approached by two different characters. The first was a kind, older gentleman who had to be in his 70s. He approached me at the counter and started rubbing my face, saying, “You are such a pretty colored girl, just beautiful.” I politely smiled and said thank you. I wasn’t mad because while I was attending USC, I experienced a similar situation.
The second character was a woman from California who came to purchase holiday ornaments. She proceeded to ask me where she could make a donation to a scholarship that would help disadvantage black youths, like me, finance college. She went on to explain that she understood my struggle and sympathized with all the hardships in my life. What is interesting about this situation is that she didn’t ask about my background or anything. She just assumed that because I was black and I attended this particular college, that I am here on handouts and chance.
I wasn’t raised in the “ghetto” like she so kindly put it. I was actually born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. I went to one of the best high schools in DeKalb County and both of my parents are gainfully employed. My dad is a Marketing Director at John Deere Atlanta and my mother holds two PH.Ds as a school superintendent in Talbot County Georgia.
It is just funny to me how in this generation, with African Americans integrating everything from CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies to the positions in the White House, that people still think that this race is only good to work minimal jobs, play sports and take the back seat. Stop with the ignorant stereotypes that we have for each other, it’s really getting old! I feel as though students, as well locals who reside here in St. Augustine should become more tolerant of racial differences and embrace them for their uniqueness.