Where my people at?

Colorblind – A glimpse into race in the U.S. and abroad is a new API blog series that looks at racial issues and concerns faced by API students and staff abroad. This post is by API Buenos Aires student Jameson Hall.

This title refers to the ratio of African-American/Black students that are studying at Universidad de Belgrano with me. There is not more than the number of fingers on my hands when counting the students, which is a concern of mine. When first coming to Buenos Aires I thought “Where my people at?? I’m probably not going to see any darker color-skinned people for a while” but to my surprise there are seven that I know of. This really makes us seems like the minority of the minority since international students are the minority of the Argentines and then within that group African-American students are the minority of the international students. But it would be wrong to focus only on this ratio, because this is restricting our cultural mindset to the USA, when there is a whole world to experience.

Now looking back at where I came from; it seems the African-American/Black population is always wanting to do things or hoping to go here or there but most don’t make a step towards figuring out what needs to be done to make dreams into reality. Sometimes bumps in the road of life happen also to set back personal adventures. In addition, in some families traveling abroad isn’t an option because one needs to take care of their family, or this person is the only one to “bring home the bacon” and etc. However, I come to say: YOU CAN GO THERE! You can study abroad too! There are so many ways to find money, get scholarships, and finally become a more “global” citizen. First, however, something I think is making a comeback is a strong foundation in education which needs to be a constant presence in a student’s life because education will can help dreams become reality. I know it is easy to get discouraged when it comes to money or when one isn’t sure on what is best for their life. We all get tugged in different directions every day and it is up to us to stand firm on a certain path.

I figure I am one of the blessed ones. My family looks out for me/cares a lot about me and when I tell them my ideas about what to do in the future; they will usually respond with “what’s your game plan?” or “how are you going to make this happen?”. When preparing to study abroad/travel I did my research, I went to the multiple study abroad fairs, and even spoke to others who had studied abroad before [none having the same skin pigment]. I never got to hear from a perceptive of someone more like me.

So, I ask again where are my people at? What has been expected of “us” is too:

  1. Go to school
  2. Finish school
  3. Not get someone pregnant/ get pregnant yourself
  4. A big one – Don’t go to jail

If we only focus on the limits we miss the goal or the dream entirely. So I want to applaud everyone that has taken that step to any dream of their own and to the ones that have stepped out of their limits to take on study abroad. At the same time, I want to motivate and give some hope to the ones that feel like they aren’t capable or let obligations get in the way. Let this phrase “YOU CAN GO THERE!” become a beacon of hope to keep your dreams alive to may be one day be reality.

Jameson Hall is studying at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, and is an international studies major at Texas State University.

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