Have You Heard?

Student Engagement

Making Choices

Social life?  Sleep?  Good Grades?  It seems we can only ever get two of these at a time here at Duke.  Even after countless time management lectures, and many hours spent on schedules, I struggle to find balance. The careful plans I make always seems to fly out the window within a matter of hours.  An exciting social event will come up, assignments will take longer than I expected, or an unexpected wave of exhaustion will wash over me as I grow tired from trying to keep up.  Life can certainly be chaotic here, especially at the end of the semester.  The stresses of Duke have a great influence over the choices we make on an everyday basis. Should we eat dinner with friends or get an extra hour of studying?  Is it worth an all-nighter to study math?  Pressure comes from parents, other students, teachers, and even people we don’t even know. The future employer, the kid in the class who destroys the curve, and the thought of our own future selves looking back on Duke all add to the stress of making choices here at Duke.

As a sophomore this year, I am already looking back on my freshman year and making changes to my life accordingly.  There isn’t usually much free time to reflect carefully at Duke, but two years have already gone by and before I know it I’ll be graduating.  While some freshmen saw college as a new start, I arrived here intending to hang on to my high school identity for as long as I could.  It was a safety blanket, and I felt comfortable defining myself a certain way.  I had excellent grades, I ran track, and I played in the orchestra.  I defined myself by the activities I participated in and placed importance on my skills and abilities.  I was also quiet and introverted, and a little bit dorky.  These bits of my personality have certainly stuck with me through college, but what I thought were my most defining characteristics evaporated when I set foot on this campus.  I didn’t know how to describe myself to others; My grades here aren’t anything special, I’m not a student-athlete, and I haven’t played my violin in two years.  Coming to college, freshmen have to redefine themselves, and for a lot of people that’s refreshing, but for some it’s uncomfortable and scary.  Making choices during orientation week seemed life-changing.  Do I go to Shooters, or not?  Will I have any friends if I don’t?  Looking back now it seems ridiculous to base long-lasting friendships on such an inconsequential choice.

Throughout freshman year I fell back into the habits of high school.  I felt the same pressures to achieve academically, and I stayed in a relationship with my high school boyfriend (who was still in high school at the time).  I couldn’t seem to let go of anything from the past and grab hold of life in college.  I spent most nights in my room doing work or talking to old friends and family.  I chose good grades and sleep over a social life.  Other freshmen chose social lives over sleep or grades, or grades and a social life over sleep, but I did know one thing for sure: I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have it figured out. 

This year, however, I’ve been better at balancing academics, health, and friends.  I look back on my freshman year and regret spending more time with books than with people.  I had unrealistic expectations of myself; 4.0?  Double major and a minor?  Shooting for the moon may land us among the stars, but it can also isolate us from the people and community at Duke.  Goals are important, but many times it’s the journey to achieve it that teaches us the most.  Duke is an opportunity I’ll only have this one time, for two more years.  I want to remember it in a positive light, and over-stressing about grades and achievements isn’t going to make many happy memories for me.  As a sophomore, I’ve focused more on making choices that will result in my mental well-being.  I want to have friends to catch up with and crazy stories to tell when I graduate.  Of course, I also want to have decent grades, but I don’t want to define myself on my academic abilities all the time.  Sometimes it’s ok to have a little fun, especially in college!  One of the hardest parts of Duke is actually being accepted into the University.  When the going gets tough, it’s time to think about all the wonderful opportunities we have had as students here and make choices that will truly benefit us.  Staying happy and healthy is just as valuable as an A+.

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50 Shades of Black: A Small Piece of My Black Experience

Throughout this piece, Black will be referring to all descendants of the African Diaspora, a definition I first heard given by Ms. Guinn. Maybe this dispersal (both forced and voluntary) can be seen as a means to understand the almost schizophrenic fluctuations of the definition of Blackness and the subsequent complexity of my people. It is a complexity that the majority of Black folks are unaware of. We seem to forget that the different shades of brown we wear are not the only variations amongst Black people, which can be seen in the ‘light-skinned’ vs. ‘dark-skinned’ feud that has followed us from the plantation. Each individual comes to define and reflect Blackness differently based on their experiences and environment. My arrival to Duke has caused me to look at my own reflection questioningly.

Back home, Blackness is characterized by grammatically incorrect sentences, dope boy dreams, athletic prowess, and ‘being about that life’, or at least that’s the way it seemed to me then. My story is like many walking the quads of Duke. I was called an Oreo, and when I spoke, I was told I ‘talked white’. Regardless, I continued to use Standard English, and I refused to take part in activities that made you ‘about that life’. My life may have been easier had I given in and went further to fit in, but I found myself taking pride in the fact that I didn’t. I looked down upon those who did. The story changed at Duke.

Duke was where I was supposed to fit in. Finally, there were Black people that understood that my culture was a reason to obtain excellence not debauchery. I was amongst some of the biggest and brightest Black minds in the country. Grades suddenly mattered to Black men, and Black females wore business jackets to class. The Mary Lou, which effectively acts as a community center, encouraged professionalism, class, and community rather than hoop dreams. Let’s not get it twisted. I am aware of the ‘ratchetivity’ that can take place; but somehow, it doesn’t come to define us. What transpired in response to these facts was shocking. My private speech got even more ‘ratchet’, and I yearned for the small talk conversations of the country. Suddenly, I realized that it needn’t be either or. I could be both a black scholar and be at home at home a) because it was my desired expression and b) because they function as different sides of the same dice, not opposite entities. It also dawned on me that my picture of home was not complete. Just because it is not Duke does not mean that each male is a thug and every female a breeding ground. I had to make my understanding more nuanced. In reaction to this, I have reached a few personal inferences.

I have come to the conclusion that my people needn’t be saved from themselves, as I had believed before Duke. Like we admonish students for going overseas with a savior’s complex, I had to chastise myself for thinking that my presence and education should somehow teach other people, my people how to live. In reality, my only job is to expand their options and learn from the experiences that are unfamiliar to me. I had to reconcile my ignorance to historic hip hop performers and the intense dependence that others had on their message and power with the shared understanding that you can’t walk around a store for hours and not buy anything when your skin looks like ours.  In other words, it’s about realizing that though some reflections of Blackness are a different shade from mine, they are still black.
After my own moment of fleeting enlightenment, I am curious. Do we accept and acknowledge the hues of Black culture being represented in the ‘hoods’ and ‘country bumpkin towns’ many of us are trying to break out of? More importantly, do we appreciate them? Should we? Or am I wrong? Are we all representative of one grand Black culture, because of our shared subordination? As Black Duke graduates, what shade of black will we be? It is my hope that, once we are out of this space, we will not forget to acknowledge each person’s shade of Black with understanding and openness, as we are equipped with the understanding that there are gradations, there is no one color.

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Leaning Into Discomfort

Every day on Duke’s campus, we are faced with a subconscious decision –the red pill or the blue pill?

Every semester, 56 Duke students take the red pill. They embark on a journey about which they know nothing besides the many controversial Chronicle articles and Facebook posts. This journey ‘Common Ground,’ is formally described as “a student-led diversity immersion retreat program dedicated to exploring human relations in personal and powerful ways. “

It is easy to write this off as cliché, thinking: how could a single weekend possibly change anyone’s established ideals on race, gender, sexuality, etc.? Why would you go on a retreat with strangers to get to the bottom of any problems I’m facing?  Sadly, it is even easier to dismiss the newly “enlightened” Common Ground attendees off as “drinking the Kool-Aid.” I know these viewpoints well because, prior to attending Common Ground, I felt the same way. I was tired of all of the social media posts and articles praising the retreat for changing people’s outlook on life. I was tired of the cultish “CG Parties” I would hear about from someone who subsequently told me I wasn’t welcomed. And I was definitely tired of the secrecy associated with the event – as if people who’d went learned something that they couldn’t share with us mere and unenlightened Duke students.

Out of the 56 attendees, very few are black students. I originally wrote this article aiming to convince black students in our community that Common Ground is an experience. It should be shared by us all - whether we wanted to go for our own growth or to help others. Many of us, though we do not see ourselves as “racist,” will subconsciously align with racist or prejudice ideals. I have done so myself in my time at Duke. Without knowing anything about them, I often ignorantly assumed people outside of my own race looked down on me. Common Ground reminded me of how to look beyond color and into a person. However, it also reminded me that those prejudice ideals I had were not without basis. There are still many people on Duke’s campus who will judge me just by the color of my skin. I felt as though the retreat served a dual purpose – to prevent me from assuming certain individuals hold prejudices against me, and to open the eyes of those who are blindly prejudice allowing them to see their wrongs. I was told at the end of the retreat by a white female that I helped her “look inside of herself” and changed her perspective on a lot of things. There was an unspoken understanding; my words about life experiences had changed her perspective of black people . She was trying to unlearn racist ideals that had been instilled in her. She had acknowledged her racism and her privilege to be able to walk away from feeling her discomfort - instead she stayed and tried to learn more. Now while I thought this was a positive thing, others who I’ve spoken with feel as though this shouldn’t be our place as black students. Between Common Ground and conversations with black students who have had just about enough of defending themselves, I found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. I tried to organize my thoughts from three completely different perspectives. The first: Your racism isn’t my problem. The second: If we aren’t speaking up, someone will on our behalf. The last: Will any of this ever really change regardless? Can I just take the blue pill and move on?

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New Sites, New Perspectives

Public Policy

I am now a few days removed from my Roots to Rights alternative spring break experience. The trip included several hours riding from place to place, and it was a bit hectic to move from one hotel to another. But this experiential education tour gave me a unique perspective on a region I have lived in for my entire life but soon realized I had a lot to learn about.

Our tour of Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi stands as one of the highlights of the trip for me. Our tour guide, professor Jen Stollman, said that she wanted to demystify the South for people. As someone who grew up in Durham, North Carolina, I always viewed my hometown as a progressive hub that was merely surrounded by rural communities of Confederate flag-waving racists. But Stollman emphasized that people should not look at the South as a foreign, backward place, but as a complex region still dealing with the remnants of its troubled past. Stollman noted the contradictions of the South – how, for example, it included more interactions among whites and blacks. And yet, the first thing many people see upon arriving at Ole Miss campus is a towering monument for Confederate soldiers.

The trip included many unique opportunities. We heard civil rights icon Julian Bond speak at Alabama State University, visited the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama and heard a detailed recounting of Bloody Sunday – when six hundred protesters, marching in remembrance of Jimmie Lee Jackson’s death, faced billy clubs from police officers.

But it was also important to hear about these issues in the context of the twenty-first century. An archivist at the Southern Poverty Law Center spoke about Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a 2012 book on the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. We saw the urban blight of several Southern cities – the lack of jobs, affordable housing and quality education. Chandra Guinn, the director of the Mary Lou Williams center and a staff member on the Roots to Rights trip, said that the Confederate monument for Duke is the Aycock East Campus dorm. I had conversations with several fellow students like Daniel Kort, Aubrey Temple and Richard Phillips about the fractured social circles at Duke. And Ms. Guinn challenged me when I spoke of “self-segregation” at Duke as coming from a point of privilege.

The essence of the trip weren’t the visits to the birth or death places of Martin Luther King Jr., or the consumption of good soul food or the meaningful conversations I had with students and staff members. It was the combination of it all. This trip has undoubtedly given me new perspectives on civil rights, both fifty years ago and in the present moment.

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The Need to Pay Attention

Prospective Biology & Theater Studies Major

In the past few days, I've traveled to Charlotte, Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham with the 2014 Roots to Rights trip. We've visited a number of Civil Rights monuments and important locations, namely the King Center and MLK's birthplace in Atlanta, the Civil Rights Memorial in the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, and the Voting Rights Museum in Selma. 

It's been a lot to do in a short span of time, but the experience has been nothing but eye-opening and sobering. Walking through museums memorializing those who were murdered, beaten, lynched, abused physically and mentally, I began to fully understand what was being faught for and the sacrifices that thousands of people made to stand up for human rights. For the first time, I've begun to realize that, before now, I've known about the Civil Rights movement, but I haven't understood everything that it represented. It was not just a movement lead by such great people as MLK, Medgar Evers, Coretta King, and Julian Bond, but rather a movement of thousands, from all walks of life, united in nonviolent confrontation against extreme hate and violence. This does not diminish the work of their leaders, but we shouldn't forget those who were killed and injured and who we don't learn about in textbooks, those who raised their voiced against injustice just as surely as MLK, and, perhaps even more importantly, those who were killed not because of protesting or standing up for themselves but because they happened to cross paths with people who hated them for the color of their skin. One of the most profound things that I've heard in the past few days is Mrs. Till's request to give her son, Emmett Till (who was beaten to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman), an open-casket funeral, because she had had enough of the world turning a blind eye to the brutality that African Americans faced on a daily basis. We need to acknowledge and notice that these things are happening, all over the world, and we need to be vocal about it. Not acting is just as bad as actively supporting violence and hate crimes.

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Reflections on Dr. Jason Mendez

I always have heard that iron sharpens iron. Last semester (Wednesday, Sept. 25), I was reminded of that once again as we welcomed Dr. Jason Mendez to the Center for Multicultural Affairs. During my time as a multicultural and social justice educator, community organizer, higher education professional, etc… I have come to learn the painful truth that this work can be tiring. It is easy for us to want to retreat, give up, or submit ourselves to the un/written rules and procedures of society. For many of us, deviation from our true and authentic self can slowly chip away at the core of our soul while making the compromises that we make doing this work. Sitting down and having a Down To Earth Dinner with Dr. Jason Mendez, Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice in Education at Duke University, was a breath of fresh air. He is truly one of the hidden gems at our institution. I am extremely excited that we will have him back as a guest to highlight our annual 14th Annual Unity Through Diversity forum on Arts & Activism. It is gearing up to be pretty exciting.

I want to recap a non-exhaustive list of the much-needed refreshers that Dr. Mendez delivered to approximately 25 students, faculty, and staff members on the evening of September 25.

1) Sport that cap – As Dr. Mendez threw his NY Yankees cap on his head and shared with us his journey from Hunts Point Avenue in the Bronx to Duke, I instantaneously flashed through the 33 year journey of my own. From time to time, you might see me walking into the office with the black Detroit cap, sporting our beloved Old English ‘D’ (or as many of us native Detroiters call it, “the Detroit D”). That cap has an entire journey tied into it that I could share many stories about. But at the core of it, that ‘D’ is me. It is where I’m from. It is who I am. In many ways, it is what made me who I am today. I might have bought that cap for $5 at a gas station in Detroit but that cap is worth millions to me. There is an irony to me wearing that cap though. I have to take it off when I come into work and I put it back on when I leave. There lies the symbolic reminder that although I can be me in many ways, there is much of what encompasses that cap that I might have to hide, change, and alter in an environment like Duke. That struggle to find a balance between my true authentic self and who I am expected to be in certain environments is nothing new to many of us. It is important to find your own rhythm.

2) Oppression/privilege – Many of us experience marginalization in a variety of ways. Many of my colleagues (and students) of color experience it because of their race. Many of my female colleagues (and students) experience this because of their gender. Many of my queer colleagues (and students) experience it because of their sexual orientation. Many of my colleagues (and students) from poor and working class backgrounds experience it because of their class background. To make it more complex, it all intersects. However, when we experience marginalization it can become a more salient identity because we are having experiences regularly that reinforce that difference or “otherness.” This is where I can appreciate Dr. Mendez. Despite having to navigate oppression being a person of color (more specifically, Boricua), he discussed the dynamics of heterosexual and male privilege in his life. I can only imagine what his experience is like. Not many people are confident and transparent enough to put themselves in such a vulnerable place. But he takes that step, to share the intricacies of his work and its relationship to his personal journey. He doesn’t wrap him self up in a blanket of oppression or privilege like many of us do. An intersectional lens will open us up to the complexity of the lived experience as Dr. Mendez shared.

3) Leading the youth - As a visiting faculty in the Education Department, Dr. Mendez shared some of his journey working with Duke students to engage them in working with local youth. His critical pedagogical approach is a breath of fresh air. As a former Michigan Campus Compact AmeriCorps* VISTA I can tell you how heart-breaking it was to work with well-intentioned colleagues who aimed to “Help People Help Themselves.” This was the actual motto. Many of my colleagues were entering communities like the one I came from. Some were actually entering my actual stomping grounds. None of them came from these kinds of communities. The in-group/out-group dynamics along with the paternal/maternal approach often hinted of internalized superiority. Dr. Mendez does an excellent job bridging theory and practice to engage his students in issues that impact those at this school and our neighbors in the broader Durham community. All too much, in a college setting, we have very detached conversations about the intricacies of the human experience. He certainly bridges that gap for his students and his colleagues. Additionally, his creativity in engaging his students is wonderful. This is part of the reason that he has such a large following among our students. They appreciate his work to find creative ways to keep them engaged. This is part of the reason why he will be our guest star at this year’s Unity Through Diversity.

In closing, I hope you get the chance to connect with Dr. Mendez if you have not already. He is inspiring. He is hard working. He is creative. He is truly a hidden gem of Duke University. His presence can serve to continue the progress that Duke has made over the years in opening up an environment that provides one of the best educational experiences in the world.

I salute you, Dr. Mendez! Looking forward to you bringing the Bronx to the Bryan Center on April 2, 2014 for our 14th Annual Unity Through Diversity forum.

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Leadership Through Service

In this short life
That only lasts an hour
How much, how little
Is within our power.
             --Emily Dickinson

We often associate leadership with power, but there is also a notion of Servant-Leadership, in which one’s power is exercised in service, or acting for the common good.  Duke’s mission of “knowledge in the service of society” reflects this idea, and many of our programs and activities provide opportunities for students to “serve”—whether on campus, in the Durham community, or in the larger world.  Life, Short, Much, Little—every day we might ask, “How do I make today matter in the midst of all the things I have to do?”

Leadership through service is a deliberate way to cultivate many of the values students claim to want to develop in their goals for “improving the world,” “making a difference,” “becoming a good person,” “being a change agent,” or “following my passion!” Acts of service (or a serving orientation to life) take you outside yourself and your own little sphere to new communities and people who can teach you much about yourself, as well as about life as you do not know it.  And it IS “within our power” (i.e. LEADING your own life!) to find or create opportunities for this daily.

Service-Learning employs a reflection practice which helps us discover what matters, and what is within our power, as we describe, examine, and articulate our experiences.  Each of these steps can apply to any life experience, and I urge you to consider them in the context of your own efforts to “lead from within.”

Step One:   Describe.  Ask yourself, “What am I doing?”  (An internet guru recently said on NPR, “Attention is now the scarcest resource of all.”  So be intentional about objectively noticing what is going on in any particular moment (this is also called Mindfulness), and what details are significant—in your behaviors, attitudes,  the people you are with, the setting, how you are feeling. (This will, of course, require that you set aside your earphones and turn off your cell phone so that you can focus on the specifics!)  “I am sitting on the bus next to someone I don’t know and I am eager to get this next class over with so I can go to the gym.”  Or “I am tutoring a third-grader who can hardly speak English and I feel inadequate to help her learn to read.”

Step Two:  Examine. Ask yourself, “What could I be doing differently—or better?  How can I enlarge my world to embrace more of this moment/opportunity/challenge?  Why am I feeling uncomfortable
/happy/relieved/eager—or nothing?”  As you focus on this step, be aware of the responses that emerge—“I could start a conversation with a stranger.”  “I want to take a walk in the gardens.”  “I could make some picture flash cards for the child I am tutoring.”  I am resisting identifying my feelings because that might interfere with what I need to be doing.”  “I’d like to write a note to a former teacher.”  “I want to know more about the Durham public schools.”

Step Three.  Articulate. Ask yourself, “What have I learned from this experience—about myself, about other people, about the way the world works, about the way this school/organization behaves?”  Then, “How can I apply any new insights and understandings to other experiences and moments?” What can I change—in myself, my environment, my relationships—that enable me to exercise what is “in our power”-- and to “make a difference”?

The poets always say it best: 

Pay attention.
Be amazed.
Tell about it.
      --Mary Oliver

The DEAL model for Critical Reflection was developed by Dr. Patti Clayton and others, and can be explored more fully at http://www.ncsu.edu/cece/resources/deal_model.php.

Leader in Residence lunch and discussion with Dr. Betsy Alden
Noon - 1 pm
March 21st
005A Bryan Center

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Ian Zhang

Senior Ian Zhang was born in Duke Hospital when his father, Jing Zhang Ph.D. ’95, was a graduate student in cell biology. He is currently president of the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), which consists of seven fraternities and sororities with a focus on Latino/a, Asian, and multicultural life.  Read More.

 

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Dear PNMs

Dear PNMs,

You're finally done. You can finally breathe and try to return to normal life, untainted by the judgment of women (yes, women, not girls) you hardly know and who hardly know you. You're done with the silly title of "Potential New Member." Some of you are new members now, some of you are not. Some of you knew what sorority you'd be in throughout the entire recruitment process because you're friends with the older members and you're a legacy and you know how to socialize with the right people. Some of you went into rush bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and completely unaware of where you'd end up and now you couldn't be more thrilled to call these new friends your sisters. Some of you got into a top-tier sorority only to experience Bid Day, alone and excluded, wondering if you made a mistake in your choice. Some of you opened your envelopes to bid cards bearing the name of a sorority you never wanted to begin with but had to list as a choice. Some of you cried on Bid Day. Some of you cried before Bid Day. Some of you didn't even make it to Bid Day.

Every single one of you dressed your best for each round. Some of you bought entirely new outfits for the process. You curled your hair, or you straightened your hair, or you tried the messy bun look or a braid or maybe you just let it go natural. Women of color, the courageous few of you probably tried to look as Caucasian as possible, because that's how you make it in this system. Some of you wore makeup, or maybe you didn't (but you probably did). All of you went into this whole process knowing that you would be judged (on how you looked). Before each party, you would ask the women next to you in line if you had any granola bar stuck in your teeth (the Convention Center refused to feed you...as if Potential New Members of sororities needed another thing to worry about). You'd pop a mint or a piece of gum, and hope no one could tell how much you were sweating.

You enter the room to clapping, singing, shouting, and other overwhelming noises. You are surrounded by smiling, laughing, happy, "beautiful" women who have been granted the power of judging you and deciding your social fate simply because the system favored them in one way or another. You make small talk about majors and hometowns with women who seem truly, genuinely interested in you. You try to be as engaging as possible. You try to stand out, but not too much. You leave the party feeling good about how your conversations went, relieved that rush isn't as scary as everyone made you think it would be.

Before the next round, your Gamma Chi gives you the tiny slip of paper (that you'll try all day not to lose) listing all the parties you've been invited back to. Some of you get all of your top choices (and you knew you would); some of you are pleasantly surprised by how many you got invited back to. Some of you realize the conversations you were so confident went so well didn't go as well as you thought, because some of you get "cut." Some of you get "cut" by several sororities. Some of you drop out of rush.

Some of you get called back to all of your top choices for the next two rounds; your conversations move beyond small talk and you start to see these women (who will judge you) as friends, as Potential New Sisters. Some of you tell your friends what sorority you know you'll join; some of you get over-confident. Some of you receive your slip on the day of Round 4, only to be crushed by the power of judgment. Some of you finally get cut. Some of you move on, making the best of it all and continuing with recruitment. Some of you quit.

And now, fast forward through preference night and Bid Day and it's over. Now, whether you're in a sorority or not, you can look back on the process and reflect. If you didn't end up where you thought you wanted to be, you may blame yourself. You're not pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough or unique enough. And if you're saying any of these things, you're wrong. But no matter how many times your friends and family tell you you're perfect just the way you are, that it's the sorority's loss that they missed out on you, you won't believe it. Because you still got cut. You weren't enough. You didn't fit the mold established by a system that encourages and promotes young women judging other women on entirely superficial standards. And even though you should believe and know that you are worth so much more than the meaningless and unfair judgments of girls who do not know you, that you are beautiful because you are you, that your worth is not determined by the letters or lack of letters on your sweatshirt, you will still probably think that there is something wrong with you, when, in fact, there is nothing wrong at all.

And if you did end up where you wanted to be, you're probably ecstatic right now. And you should be happy and excited, because you are special. You might start to see yourself as better than other women; you were selected, they were not. You are in a certain sorority, while they are in another. And while it's easy to do this, and the system reinforces this thinking, you can't let these letters change the way you act or treat people. Because just days ago, you were a PNM just like everyone else. No one is better than anyone else in this system, despite what some may think. You are just as terrified as everyone else of being judged.

So, PNMs, or NMs, or independents, or whatever title you prefer, I urge you to take your new letters or lack of letters with a grain of salt. In the end, they are simply letters. We attach meaning and significance to them, no doubt, but they do not define you or anyone else. Ultimately, what matters is not the judgment of women you hardly know who hardly know you, but instead, the fact that you are awesome, wonderful, kickass you.

Sincerely,

Sorority Member Still Being Judged

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