Oberlin Blogs

Honest Recollections

April 9, 2013

Chinwe Okona ’13

This entry has been written over the course of the last month, in different parts of the country, piecing together the thoughts that have been living inside my head.

Monday, March 11, Oberlin

This time last week, I was sitting in Afrikan Heritage House with a host of other students, staff members, and some key members of the administration. I would say this was one of the first times in my life where I literally didn't know what to do, and felt one hundred percent useless in a room. I felt immobilized; I still feel immobilized.

A week later, I'm choosing to write about last week's events, not because I think I've got a particularly interesting angle on what's going on, but rather because I still, personally, feel pretty affected.

(At this point, I felt unable to organize my thoughts in the way I wanted and decided to revisit this entry at a later point.)

Sunday, March 24, 2:41 pm; somewhere between Oklahoma City and Amarillo

Some acknowledgements that I feel I have to make before I dive: I often completely fall off the blogosphere. Time is definitely an issue for me. When I'm in Oberlin, I have a hard time disconnecting myself from my Oberlin experiences enough to write them down. This is probably why the majority of my entries appear when I'm outside of Oberlin (aka my super cute mini-series about my life and times in Oakland this past summer). It's funny because I have hella drafts and sticky notes of ideas, but the turnover of events in my life is so fast that by the time I revisit my drafts, my mind has already progressed to the next thing and my previous preoccupation seems redundant/irrelevant.

Nevertheless, it's been almost exactly three weeks since things officially popped off at Oberlin, and some of the same issues are still festering in my mind. It's interesting because in some ways, I'm completely over the telling and retelling of has been/is happening at Oberlin right now. However, at the same time, I recognize that I've yet to write my own personal reflection about any of the events. While I have apprehension about hashing out my feelings in such a public space, it feels like an appropriate space and the right time.

(Here I stopped writing again to further organize my thoughts.)

Sunday, March 31, 4:30 pm; Chicago

For me, the most important/affirming part of the last four weeks has been the ways in which community has come together in spite of adversity. Coming into Oberlin, I definitely had to learn to let myself depend on folks around me; not necessarily as a crutch, but as a support system--something I've come to recognize that I very much need. The morning of the sighting, I arrived in Lord Lounge of Afrikan Heritage House, took a look around, and immediately felt covered by a blanket of utterly overwhelmed energy. There have been very few moments in my life where I've felt utterly immobilized by the events going around me. Looking back to that moment, what I remember most is the support I received from my friends, peers, and community members.

In addition to the continued support, what sticks with me now, in this time of working towards/advocating for institutional change, is the aftershock; the residual emotions that I continue to carry on my person, weeks after the immediate rush. On the evening of March 4th, the same day classes were cancelled, I was chased by two male-bodied people on my way home from the first working group meeting in A-house. I reported the incident, but because there was so much to be done, I now recognize that I denied myself the space or freedom to feel fear, to retreat into myself, and take time to sort through my emotions.

(Further thought collecting.)

Monday, April 8, 2:12 am; Oberlin

Over the course of the last month, I've really been challenged by the concept of processes. Just like drafting and publishing this entry has been a process, drafting the list of student proposals to the administration and beginning to work on the process of implementing these proposals has been/will be quite a process. At same time, I have been going through personal processes with my own emotions and the ways in which personal friendships and relationships have improved/suffered/changed in conjunction with the changes occurring on campus.

Processes take time, and I often think of how long this process of institutional change will take, in combination with how little time I have left at Oberlin. There has been an enormous amount of sacrifice across the board from all parties involved in the student activism of the last month; immeasurable numbers of hours, as well as the space this has been inhabiting in folks' heads and the way this has weighed on our hearts. While I know I won't be around to see the end of this process (nor do I think that the attention currently being paid to these issues should ever have a definitive end, as these are on-going conversations and ever-changing issues), I look forward to the time in which my personal involvement comes to an end and I am able to reflect on the progress we as students have inspired. I have a feeling I'm going to be awed.

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