Being a Black Woman at Warwick
On my first day at Warwick, I was warmly welcomed into my accommodation by a black man who told my parents how happy he was to see Warwick’s black community growing in size. After my family set off, I explored the campus. Whilst walking, I noticed that I hadn’t encountered any black people yet. I decided to play a little game where I counted the number of black people I saw. Six. I only saw six during my ten-minute walk. That’s when the feeling of loneliness kicked in. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. In this blog, I’m going to share some ways that you can overcome that feeling of loneliness. I’m going to refer to some of my personal experiences as a black woman at Warwick and attempt to address some of the concerns you may potentially have.
Being a black woman at Warwick is joining the Afro-Caribbean Society.
Now, I’m the type of person that likes to make friends in an organic, face to face setting so I didn’t interact in any group chats before university (I would rate this approach a 2/10 – I wouldn’t recommend). But after I saw six black people on my walk around campus, I went back to my accommodation, downloaded WhatsApp and joined the ACS group chat with speed. Safe to say, there are a lot more than six black people at Warwick. When I joined the group chat, there were over 200 members and the number increased daily. I felt so relieved that I would be able to meet other black girls who could understand me. ACS will probably be a large part of your experience as a black person at Warwick if you want to feel a sense of cultural community, however, don’t feel obliged to attend their events if you don’t feel like it’s your thing.
Being a black woman at Warwick is never having a lecturer that looks like you.
One of the highlights of my experience at Warwick has been being taught by two black female Professors. I know that this is something that most black women won’t get to experience which is upsetting. However, it should be noted that this isn’t only a Warwick issue – it’s a general issue in the UK’s higher education system which needs to be resolved. I would love for more of us to be taught by someone who truly identifies with us. Although this sounds so simple, it is something that other ethnic groups take for granted. It is a real privilege to feel represented in every area of your life, and unfortunately, this is a feeling I can rarely identify with as a black woman.
Being a black woman at Warwick is wondering where you’re going to find your hair products and cultural food.
Luckily enough, Cannon Park has a black-owned hair and beauty shop where you can find most products that you’d use. And if you’re the kind of girl who likes to switch up your hair regularly, then Warwick isn’t the sort of place where I felt awkward about doing so. The most I’ve got is “I didn’t recognise you, ha-ha” but for the most part, no one comments on the change unless it’s to pay you a compliment. Also, one blessing that has come about with the COVID-19 restrictions is that you don’t have to worry about your housemates inviting everyone to your kitchen whilst you’re cooking in your wig cap and house girl attire.
In terms of food, you can get your yam, palm oil, scotch bonnet peppers and so much more from Coventry market. If you have enough space in your freezer, I would recommend buying as much as you can and freezing what you don’t use to minimise travelling.
Being a black woman at Warwick is dealing with the occasional spout of ignorance.
Sorry to dampen the mood but we have to address it! Fortunately, I have not had to encounter many ignorant individuals, but it’s bound to happen for most. This isn’t necessarily a reflection of Warwick, but unfortunately, it’s something we’ve been told to prepare ourselves for. There was only one time in my whole first-year experience where someone made a comment that didn’t sit well with me. As a Sociology student, I was surprised that this only happened once since several of our conversations include a racial element. On that note, I want to make it clear that being a black woman at Warwick is NOT being the spokesperson for all black people. It is draining. There are more than enough resources for people to educate themselves with so don’t feel like you have to spend your time doing this unless you genuinely want to.
Being a black woman at Warwick hasn’t been bad in my personal experience. If you’re anything like me, then one of the main reasons you even chose to study at Warwick in comparison to other Russell Group universities is because its black community is larger than most. Has my experience as a black woman at Warwick been perfect? No – I would love to see more black students and more black professors. However, it seems as though the former is increasing every year, so I am hopeful that we’ll get there one day.
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