There are 10 guaranteed things that black women who attend predominantly white institutions (PWIs) for college experience, according to poet Kwyn Townsend Riley.
In a poem titled "PWI 10 Commandments" which Riley posted on YouTube on Friday, she underscores several obstacles black women have to conquer on the campuses, including microagressions, destructive stereotypes and underrepresentation. As she goes down the list, her poem serves a survival guide for black girls to protect their magic.
"One. White people will touch your hair, aligning it with juvenile things like 'Chia Pet,' or 'Barbie doll' because they are appalled at the many different forms our crown can take," Riley says in the video above. She heeds black women not to reveal the secrets their hair holds when white people ask "how do you get it to stay like that." A simple response of "I was born this way" will suffice.
Riley also notes that black women at PWIs take on the role of educator on both black cultural and black empowerment. These students have to explain that #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName are "more movement than hashtag."
Black women at PWIs carry a huge burden on their backs. The weight of their struggle bring them through a cycle of feeling exhausted, angry, vengeful and courageous, Riley promises.
"As a black woman, we have to fight racism and sexism at the same damn time," she says. "They will try to break you down."
She reminds black women of their resilience in the face of adversity with a heartwarming message.
"You will smile, and encourage every "Melanin Monroe" on your campus because you know, where there is a black girl there is magic."
Damn right, Kwyn!