On graduate school and racism in VT
The Black Man's Guide to the Psyche
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What could happen in a day?
So I got into graduate school.
On Jan. 20, UVM’s Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine accepted me into their rigorous accelerated master’s program in pharmacology, the dream for a burgeoning drug nerd such as myself.
After months of pulling my hair out — literally and figuratively — hoping something would materialize from the innumerable essay revisions and frantic emails to professors asking for their academic blessings, my efforts were finally rewarded.
I get to study what I love and get paid for it, and I’m incredibly fucking scared.
There are a lot of reasons why I’m scared to start my master’s degree.
The most glaringly obvious for a young biracial man such as myself is that I’m going to be in the U.S. for 365 days longer than planned. In the months preceding the oh-so-“great” presidency of The Donald (I refuse to say the words “President Trump”), I made efforts to apply to schools in Germany.
The day that fascist little clementine was inaugurated was the same day my Fulbright fellowship was rejected; a bitter 24 hours, to say the least.
My eyes darting between my computer screen and my bedroom view of the Davis Center, I ruminated on what another year might bring.
2016 was exemplified for me by acknowledgment of deep-seated depression and anxiety, the slow metaphorical death of a bitter relationship and the oh-so-cruel literal death of my close friend, Andrew Godaire.
What could go wrong this year?
Or day, is what I should really be asking. I started my Sunday by fending off a hangover from a particularly volatile night at What Ale’s You (I’m talking to you, blackout fratholes), segued to a Facebook argument with my aunt because white feminism can’t play nice with black pride and finished with calling friends and police to prevent a potential suicide.
Three years ago I would have curled into the fetal position if presented with these circumstances; my anxiety was bad enough to induce vomiting before a Ruggles chemistry exam, let alone helping a friend in crisis.
The depression would have kept me in bed for damn near a week, my body listlessly rising only to eat and compulsively check social media.
Days like that make me feel like I really have changed.
But I’m still scared. I’m scared when large white guys say they want to smash my skull in. I’m scared when my own family invalidates my experience of being black in America.
I’m scared drugs, death and depression can’t seem to escape the lives of the people I love most. And most of all, I’m scared to fail – exams, classes and drug tests (just kidding).
But when I face that fear, the world unfolds in front of me like a flower greeting the sun on a beautiful spring day. I’ve survived kidnapping, physical and verbal abuse, casual and overt racism, drug abuse and I’ve almost survived college.
The sun will rise in the morning, and I will survive that day too.
This is The Black Man’s Guide to the Psyche.