In a Sea of White: An Inside Look at the Affects of Attending a Predominately White School as a Black Girl


Anaya Price , Writer

The color line divides us. Being one of the only brown faces in a sea of white brings discomfort and criticism. That discomfort and criticism may lead black students to feel ashamed of our culture and our blackness, ranging from our hairstyles and accessories to the way we talk and the way we dress. Before we know it, our blackness is stripped, and we’re pretending to be someone we’re not. Then comes the thoughts and questions, such as I like him, but does he like girls like me? There have been countless times when I’ve looked in the mirror and questioned the beauty of my color because of how unaccepted it is to be a black girl. With time, I have grown to love the skin I’m in, but the trauma from the challenges I’ve faced still lingers. 

Questioning your worth due to not being fully accepted in the community you’re a part of is a shared experience among many black girls who attend primarily white schools. According to psychologist Daniel Tatum, “When you are an adolescent, in particular, trying to define your sense of identity, who you are, what you hope to be in the future— if you don’t feel understood, you’re likely to experience a sense of alienation and discomfort.” Using the logic of experts, a conclusion can be drawn that the experiences black girls face affect us more than anyone can imagine. 

Our voices remain unheard. JahAsia Jacobs is a graduate of Blair Academy – a private school in Blairstown, New Jersey. JahAsia is one of the many black girls that struggled with self-love and expression due to the community she was a part of. In an interview, Jacobs said that she “internalized the hurt and lost a part of herself because of the constant microaggressions she battled.” She also went on to say that there were many opportunities that she found herself not taking just to avoid any more racism or alienation than she already had. There are numerous cases similar to this one where black students do not feel protected in the community they’re in simply because they do not “look” the part. JahAsia did not fully embrace her blackness until college, where she became an activist and co-hosted a race and resistance symposium. “I am just very deeply involved in all the things that I wanted to be doing at Blair but didn’t feel comfortable doing,” she said. 

Although everyone’s experiences differ, the trauma remains the same. Being a black girl in today’s society comes with unimaginable struggles: from being racially profiled in public to the feeling of loneliness that comes when you feel like you don’t belong. I still vividly remember the first time I ever felt alone in an environment that was supposed to make me feel nothing short of loved and welcomed. I attended a predominately white private school from grades 6th through 8th. I went home and cried after the first day of school because of how alone I felt after being there for just one day. It took me the longest time to fully adapt because of how scared I was of being myself. I didn’t want to be seen as what they expected a black girl to be. I didn’t want to be seen as too loud or too “ghetto”, so I felt the need to hide who I really was to protect my image and ultimately, myself. 

I am a black girl from Milwaukee, Wisconsin which is a small, predominately African American community. I moved to Arizona close to two years ago, and at first, it was really hard to find my place. I was one of the few brown faces in a sea full of white and it made me feel alone. It made me feel uncomfortable. I did and still do struggle with identity because nobody wants to be different nor does anyone want to feel singled out. The hard truth is that this is the reality for black girls everywhere. Experiences like mine and countless others are what we have to accept and adapt to. The only bright side is that we have each other, and we are not as alone as we may feel. The journey of self-love and expression is one every little black girl endures, but as a whole, we need to do better at being one of the few brown faces in a sea of white that see each other.