Perspective: Being Black at ‘Chaug


Kiel Williams, Contributor

I joined the Wilbraham community six years ago, and I knew that coming to a community with more Whites than Blacks would be a little difficult for me, mostly since I was the new kid. I remember in seventh grade, there were times when some students would say racial slurs to me, and at the end of every insult, they would say, “C’mon man, it’s just a joke.”

But, I was always taught never to give attention to people who wrong you. Whenever I heard those words, I would just walk. I never let it affect me.

Still, although I tell myself that I won’t let the words affect me, there are times when I ask myself, “Why is this happening to me?”

My parents say, “Kiel, you have to understand because of your skin color, you will be targeted, and it is your job to prove them wrong.”

So that’s what I did.

I proved to others that I am more than “just a Black boy.” I proved to myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. It’s one reason that I agrred when towards the end of eighth grade, my history teacher asked if I wanted to give the graduation speech.

I was scared, but then I knew this was my time to shine.

I remember standing in front of my school, and at that moment, I felt that sense of responsibility to represent my school. After all of my hard work and dedication, what awaited me at the end of my speech was a standing ovation, and I felt proud. In that moment, I felt a spark that said: Yes, I could make a difference.

As I entered high school, everyone still remembered me as the guy who gave the eighth-grade speech. Yet, that didn’t stop others from saying things like, “You act too white,” or, “ You are an oreo.”

Again, I asked why they called me that. They said, “You don’t listen to rap, you don’t wear jordans, you dress fancy.”

Even after giving my speech and proving that I can make change, I was still singled out because of the music I listen to, because of the clothing I wear, because of how I speak.

Every time those people say those words, it feels like everything I love about myself is ripped away from me.

When I am in my classes, especially my history class when it came time for Black History Month, no one talked about it; it was never mentioned. It wasn’t until I went up to my teacher and asked why don’t we talk about Black History, why don’t we learn something new. I tried I really did whenever I had the chance and the teachers did not say anything about the importance of Black history.

Not only was Black history not talked about in class, whenever we were talking about a topic of African Americans, I was singled out. When I looked around the classroom, I realized why this was happening to me: I was the only black kid in my class.

I was targeted because of my skin color not only when I first joined the Wilbraham community but even now.

Nonetheless, I believe we are on the verge of change because teachers and students are showing that people who are different do matter.

For once I am finally proud to be truly part of Wilbraham and if we continue going in the right direction then every good thing that we want in our community will come to fruition.