For Black women, self-care is an act of liberation. It disrupts systems of power — even at places like Harvard — that hold a stake in patriarchy and institutionalized racism. It is a way for us to free ourselves and dilute our pain from historical patterns of trauma caused by everyday violences. It is a crucial aspect of embracing and valuing our dignity and self-worth because trauma doesn’t have to be our destiny. We deserve to heal, to grow, to change. And sometimes it looks like distancing ourselves from potentially toxic, or infectious, scenarios or spaces to protect our energy and safeguard it for our own well-being.
Sometimes, the questions philosophy tackles may seem like emotion or art, too ethereal and grand to truly understand and only perverted by their formalization into a classroom. However, the formal discussion of these questions in an academic setting, far from stripping them of value, instead reveals new insights, allowing one to build upon years of human thought. To sit in a philosophy class at Harvard is no less than sitting in a dining hall discussing these same questions with hundreds of generations of humanity.
For many of us, having a disability eclipses, at least for those who don’t know us, any aspect of our character that in a non-disabled person would naturally draw attention. Our task is to make these people want to look beyond by talking about disability and showing that it is nothing taboo and strange, or anything more than, in my case, a pair of eyes that don’t work.
As Chair of the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee this past year, part of my work naturally centered on improving our historic lack of diversity. This issue hastily leads to investigating why there is an anti-Crimson stigma among communities of color on Harvard’s campus. In digging for the roots of anti-Crimson stigma, I found patterns in many of those regrettable moments I mentioned that inform some crucial recommendations I will make today.
Nobody should ever feel like they have to adhere to a particular path or match a stereotype to achieve something; instead, they should be fearless about what makes them unique. There is no correct route when one has genuine passion, and whatever shape that may take, it is neither shameful nor inadequate: it is something to be celebrated.
While many people say that college is the time to “find yourself,” funny enough, I had the opposite experience. Throughout my first year of college, I wanted to become what I believed to be the perfect Harvard student so badly that I completely lost myself in the process.
This emptiness triggered in me the realization that I had come to Harvard for the wrong reasons. I had fruitlessly tried to use my education to shape others’ impression of me instead of using it to enrich my own life and the lives of others. Remembering my dad, I knew his sacrifices were made for my happiness, not for me to convince others of it. I needed to let go of how others saw me and my circumstances, and had to start living for myself.
While any liberal arts curriculum prides itself on academic flexibility, what Harvard needs, paradoxically, is a more rigid curriculum that is sufficiently rigorous and challenges students to get out of their comfort zones. The purpose of a liberal arts curriculum should be to inspire students to be independent, life-long learners, and fostering independent learning requires guidance.
There is something uniquely Harvard, in fact, about turning the passive into the active. We capitalize on forgetfulness to maximize efficiency. Forgetting becomes a useful tool for neatly discarding whatever we deem unnecessary, especially the things that are hard to remember; not because we can’t recall them but because we don’t want to. We choose to forget to save more time to be busy, and to save ourselves from dealing with whatever lies beyond an introduction.
The sheer number of students at Harvard and the College’s formal emphasis on community on campus constantly remind us that we are never alone. But sometimes, we just are alone — and there’s nothing wrong with being alone. This autumn, while the weather is still nice and the moon is still bright, go be your own best companion.
HUDS food is the great equalizer for the majority of us on campus — it picks no favorites. Regardless of if your parents are in the top one percent of income earners globally or if you come from a home with food insecurity, you are blessed with vegan creamy pasta with Beyond sausage for dinner and a blondie brownie for dessert.
The bottom line is that white writers speaking for the oppressed is not trivial. You cannot remove politics from literature and literature from its impact; literature impacts politics which dictate our material conditions, which can decide whether many of us live or die.
We stand to gain so much more from being our authentic, genuine selves. If no one else, I — the guide of the land of late-night, the girl who wrote a comedy special to Harvard as part of her application — am always here to hear your story and laugh and cry by your side from sunset to sunrise.