Oberlin Blogs

The Honor Is Mine

June 21, 2016

Alexandria Cunningham ’16

One day far away when I have little ones that grow up too quickly, I am sure they will ask what I did during my last week of college. The truth is that when I was supposed to be partaking in all kinds of shenanigans (aka senior week), I was traveling, interviewing for a job and writing papers. I will share with them that I spent my last days in Oberlin drinking tea, sharing brunch at Black River, eating bourbon banana bread at Slow Train, watching TV with my friends in my apartment and sleeping. All of the simplest joys I indulged in while writing to finish my career here.

I share that story because I find it symbolic of my time here which has been so heavily about building community, taking care (of myself and others) and standing in my own truths. During a moment where my sobriety was not required and I could be boldly drunk off celebration, I was at home hustling to secure a job. During interviews I discussed my writing and how that informs my lifework and passions. I regained my strength, parts of my memory and other things I had lost in my college exhaustion. I, truly, was in my element.

So many special moments happened during this time and Ma'ayan, one of my best cheerleaders and mentors, guided me through a culminating moment. Designing my cap gave me a lot of anxiety--I wanted it to be perfect, clearly represent me, look presentable and exist in its own lane of witty creativity. The lasting impression of our conversations for me was this: Who have I been here [at Oberlin] and who do I want to be going forward?

The who have I been part is challenging to articulate but I give an enormous credit to one of my mentee babies and fellow bloggers, Kameron, who spoke to this in his recent post, "Oh, The Places She'll Go." All I have ever wanted in life is to have touched someone, to have inspired somebody to follow their dreams. I believe that I have done more than my one in these past twenty-two years but damn, Kameron brought tears to my eyes and I thank him for it.

The who I want to be part is still being unwrapped and it is the most exciting and time-consuming process. I have been doing a lot of writing lately about just this thing. I have recalled a lot of memories of people praying for me and speaking affirmation into my life. One of my advisors shared with me that I have been a stalwart protector of our Africana community right before giving me a community service award. I cried. Another mentor of mine told me that my scholarly reach and expertise is unparalleled. I bawled. Y'all see so much power and light in who I am and, well, the honor is mine.

My cap is my symbol of this power, light and love. It is black, celestial and magical (s/o to construction paper). It is smooth but has grooves. It shines in the light and the darkness. It has something to say. It is honest and about a journey. My cap is me.

It reads, "I wrote my Truth in Love & 82 pages." The line came to me in a dream after seeing a cap image that said something to the effect of I wrote my out. I needed to modify it because I did not write myself out of anything, rather, I wrote myself in to my communities and stood in my truths.

My 82 pages, my three capstones that I wrote during my college career are labors of love. They are pieces about Black people, how we relate to one another, who we see ourselves as and what potential we cultivate everyday. Those pieces come from the things I have been through and the questions I have yet to sort through. This journey at Oberlin that has been some shit on a lot of days and excellent on a lot of days too, has been a trip. And, well, the honor is mine.

The cap, described in previous paragraphs.

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