Why Black Students in Higher Education Need to Keep it 100%
In the movie Dear White People there are three types of Black people at the universities and colleges. Being at an Ivy Leaguer and observing my surroundings has really taught me a lot of things in regards to those definitions.
The âooftasâ are those that use blackness in order to gain favor from white people in order to get what they want. According to Kaila Chan: âan oofta is someone who adjusts their blackness depending on the environmentâ. But thereâs a dark side to that definition. An âooftaâ can also become president of some black organization or department, in order to get a scholarship, and be in the trends of black influence. Those that only care about other people only if they know someone “important” or are affiliated with important people that can further their own agenda. Those are in my understanding that dare talk about hip-hop, black politics, and black culture within the academy to further their own fame. Those are the same people who have the audacity to talk about multiple forms of identities or black identities while still trying to be Hollywood and forgetting about the people they’re trying to represent. Those that talk âreal blackâ in conferences with their own ego in mind and only invite you to you chill if youâre important or if you published a well-known book. Iâve never seen that before until I myself got into an Ivy League. Once, a black student said: âIâm gonna keep your number because you know people at the Schomburgâ. Meaning, I am only important because I know some staff members at the Arturo Alfonso Schomburg Center in Harlem and he thinks he might use me one day. Yes, we need things and favors from each other but not at the expense of that being the only reason we become peoples. I’d rather like someone for our common humanity. These ‘ooftas’ don’t mind competing against other black people and other students of color because all they care about is themselves. They rock a ‘fro for their own politics of greed. Many Latinos have also hopped on this bandwagon of self-mindedness as well. But Latinxs are predictable. Latinx organizations at universities are mostly white/mestizo Latinxs with their white privilege. You won’t catch an Afrolatinx at a university so they take advantage. It doesn’t surprise me when Latinxs say they’re down with black and indigenous Latinxs and other black folk but “forget” to put those initiatives in events of their supposed integrated organizations. I’ve seen this in many universities. The same thing every time.
Then you have the ânose jobsâ, those that reek of whiteness and imitate whiteness as much as they can because itâs in their social DNA. Like the ones who ask for uppity weird orders in the cafeteria while the guy in the back is looking at them like they’re stupid. Those that act like they donât see you in the hallways or in classrooms but then only want to be seen with white folks or ‘ooftas’ Â in order to get what they want. They are very similar to the ‘ooftas’ with their desire to be well known at the expense of their own humanity.
Then you have those who keep it ‘100’. Those of us who are in fact trying to survive and strive the best way we can without selling our souls to the devil. Those of us that care for our people no matter what happens. We are those that walk in the Ivy with our community in mind. We think of those people in the community who don’t have the privilege to hang out with a famous professor but instead with JosĂ© from his job from down the block. We remain true to ourselves. Those of us that get ignored in the hallways by the ‘ooftas’ and the ânose jobsâ because we’re not important and we arenât recognized by many people. We get looked at like we’re trying to overcompensate but in reality it is the ‘ooftas’ and the ânose jobsâ who are overcompensating. Thereâs nothing wrong with furthering your career and trying to achieve your academic potential but what pisses me off is thinking that just because you occupy a political body of blackness that it somehow automatically connects you with the people you think youâre too Hollywood for. And then have the audacity to look at me like Iâm false claiming my blackness because Iâm a high yellow Puerto Rican with African beads. Itâs not my fault you have limited understanding of blackness and think that most slave ships went to the U.S when in fact they went to South America and the Caribbean. Read a damn book on black people in Latin America before you judge. If you can read Olaudah Equiano’s and Frederick Douglas’ slave narratives, then you can read Juan Francisco Manzano’s slave narrative from Cuba as well. If you’re still doubtful of black Latinxs or still asking me what an Afrolatinx is I suggest you start doing your homework.
I donât need to prove how black or how Latino I am to anyone. Keeping it â100â can be misinterpreted for being âtoo ghettoâ or ânot getting with the programâ or “trying mad hard to be something you’re not”, but in reality it is the âooftasâ and the ânose jobsâ that are pitiful. My identity is not a bargaining tool for power or influence. Yâall can have it. I am who I know I am. I get it that people before me played different cards but Iâd rather be honest about it with my sleeves up. I can smell ‘ooftas’ and ‘nose jobs’ from a mile away. Don’t think you got me fooled.
Honestly, I went to college to build family and to fulfill my highest potential. I believe in unity above all else. How can we unite this way? On a given day I can go to the Ivy dressed casual and the other with a tie and a suit and I donât have to apologize to anyone. Let’s respect each others’ differences and work for the common good while caring about ourselves at the same time. It’s sad that I admired so much people and now they show their true colors. I didnât sign up for this but I’m doing the best I can. Being you is being 100. I’ve done come from a group home to Ivy to deal with this nonsense. The only people who have to know me are the people who already know me and will continue to do so in the future by their own free will. The rest are just a bunch of âooftasâ and ânose jobsâ. You can ignore me in the hallways or in the streets. Frankly my dear, I donât give a damn.
Those that know me will prove their love towards me without me having to be famous or well published. Those of us who are 100 need to stick together. I’m not scared of a “when keepin’ it real goes wrong” moment.
William Garcia is an Afro-Nuyorican by way of Staten Island. He has a BA and a MA in History from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. His research interests are Afro-Latino history, hip-hop and reggaeton in the Caribbean and Puerto Rican transnational migration. He is currently an MA student in Curriculum and Teaching at the Teachers College of Columbia University in New York City.Â You can find him on TwitterÂ @