I started the blog with the hopes of connecting with a different audience than I had in my previous blogging endeavors. When I came up with the idea for Tres Xicanas, I hoped it would become something I would turn to several times I week. I just wanted to get myself to keep writing, but I haven’t done that. Hopefully now that I’m struggling a lot with feelings of alienation and disconnect from identity I will come back to this more often. What fun!
Two weeks ago I moved away from home and I started studying at a University in Los Angeles. I am not a traditional college student. I spent two years at a community college and I lived at home. The biggest reason for this was because I couldn’t afford to go to a university for four years. I still can’t afford to be here. But I thought this was important, so here I am. I was having an okay time adjusting to college life for a while, that was until classes started. I am a Gender Studies major and I chose this school specifically because of its emphasis on intersectional feminisms. My first experiences in this department have been some of the most frustrating in all my years of formal education. The very first lecture with one my professors was going just fine up until the last five minutes when she tells us - albeit indirectly - that white men have the ability to reclaim symbols of racial and gender oppression that they never experienced. That was only the beginning. I could fill a fucking book with her ignorance.
I took some time this week to read portions of bell hooks’ Why Class Matters in an effort to understand my situation. I can absolutely relate to her experiences regarding higher education. She writes “I suppose the first major class conflict of my life was my decision about where to go to college. It would have been easier for my family had I chosen to go to a state college near home where I might be awarded a full scholarship, where dorms were cheap, and required books could be checked out of libraries. I wanted to go to a fancy private college. And since my folks did not talk openly about money matters or speak freely of their fears that I would leave home and become a stranger to the world of my growing, I did not realistically consider what it would be like to cross the boundaries of class, to be the working-class girl attending the rich school.”
I should say that dorms here are not cheap and I did get a scholarship to cover tuition. I shouldn’t say I didn’t know what would happen. A few of my friends warned me about the environment and type of people at this school. One of my friends from organizing back home described it as “bourgeois.” She was right. I still did not consider how it would really make me feel after just a week of being in school.
My feelings of alienation have grown with each passing day. Well meaning white people have told me they can relate when I tell them about being unsatisfied with the lack of diversity of my professors for this quarter. I kept thinking I need to talk to some working-class brown faces before I lose my mind. Yesterday, in one of my class discussions, I got my wish. I ended up talking to my classmates after class and she - who was from a similar background to mine - expressed a similar feeling of alienation. I could have cried from relief of having someone to relate to. Some people here are rude, some have money (probably the same people), most academics have their heads so far up their own asses. I can’t relate to my roommate who can use her parent’s credit card to spend on hundreds on things that aren’t necessities. Meanwhile, I need to get a job and most everyone here is looking for internships to fill up their time. I was just glad to to have someone to talk to about our parent’s homeland.
I am aware that this reads more like a diary entry, but I think my feelings are worth learning about, as self-serving as that sounds. I know that I am very privileged for being in college at all. My parents are immigrants. I am the first in my family and I have not been having a good start to my university career. I am definitely a little bit home sick. You know, I just want to cook some frijoles and eat them with some aguacate. I’m not a religious person, but I want to buy some sort of effigy of La Virgen to put in my room. It would make my mom happy too.
I don’t know, maybe I’m writing this because I think that being here for the next two years will change me. The thought has certainly crossed my mind. It’s possible that I will come out a libertarian or something stupid like that or that I won’t even last a year here. What if I forget where I come from? Maybe I should have gone to a Cal State where people like me are actually welcome.
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