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Not because you can, but because you must.


When you first applied you thought that there wasn’t a hope, not a hope, not a hope, that they’d see you and think that you’re worth anything, that you’d ever fit in. 

“They don’t take people like you…” A friend of yours warns,

“It’s only private school kids with their foot in the door.” 

Not only are you Black, you’re not rich or refined, 

you’ll never be the type of person that they have in mind.

Then you go. Interview. 

You’re not sure how you feel. 

Your college is nice, but the people make you reel. 

Not all of them mind, but some of them for sure. 

The type of people who have always had their foot in the door. 

But you smile, you mimic, you know you’re clever at least. And they’ve sent for you, this alone already guarantees that they’ve got you. Because by sending for you at all, they make you feel that you could be one of those with their foot in the door.

Intimidated at interview, but you blag, you can. You’ve been doing it for years when surrounded by people that were nothing like you but where you had to fit in, even though you knew you could never be “in”. Not with your hair, your eyes, your nose. Little distinctions, yet glaringly obvious, inescapable. 

They’ve offered you a place. 

Disbelief. Opportunity. Everyone’s thrilled. Something to tell all the family. Because it’s the name, the name, the name, that title which hides so much ugliness and conceals so much pain.

Of course you can fit in, you’re shocked now and again, when a tutor singles you out for your race, or a student is dragged out of a room simply because of his race. To be Black, Black, Black, you’re allowed here, but don’t expect to be treated the same. 

In your tiny minority, strength in little numbers, hoping beyond hope that soon more will apply, because the more that come, the more we can fight. 

So APPLY, don’t let them scare you away, but also don’t aspire to be one of the many. 

You’ll be one of the few, 

and you’ll feel like it too, 

but the strength you exude, 

oh they’ll all see that too. 

– Ella Mae, 20 

  • Name: Ella Lebeau
  • Age: 20
  • Location: Brighton, UK
  • Industry: Modelling/Student
  • Heritage: Jamaican/French
  • What does being Black mean to you? Transition. Something that used to be hated becoming something that I can love. Being Black took time to appreciate but now I see it for the beautiful, incomprehensible thing that it is – a state of being so profound that overcomes pain, aggression, and hatred, flying in the face of all that would destroy it. Being Black is being powerful.

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