Author’s note: I ran this piece print-only in Friday’s edition of The Stanford Daily with the intent to expand the online addition. I decided to let the column stand as printed (with minor edits) and may expand upon the ideas presented here in future work.
When I came back from Cape Town this quarter, I expected to be very sad about being back on campus. I had thought that I would hate to return from living in an urban setting, from living in “the real world,” to a campus whose isolation grew to feel stifling in the weeks and months before I left.
While I did not experience those things in the first few weeks of the quarter, I am feeling them quite heavily right now–and for reasons that have very little to do with my time in South Africa.
I am at a complete loss of words to explain how I have been feeling this week in any coherent way.
Some words or phrases that work: “detached,” “my head is not on campus,” “wishing the quarter were over,” “wishing graduation were here already,” “wishing I could move out of the United States already.”
Since I returned Sunday from spending 10 days off campus, I have been experiencing the feelings and issues I expected to–but did not–experience initially having returned from Cape Town.
Withdrawal, sadness to be on campus (even a loathing sometimes), and an apathy about or lack of motivation for things like school work or extracurriculars have rounded out this week.
I am seemingly out of things to say for this column. I wanted to respond further to Jason Lupatkin’s op-ed from two weeks ago that attacked minority students. I wanted to continue sharing the lessons I learned in Cape Town. I wanted to discuss some of the things I learned over the last two weeks during my absence from campus.
I would still like to do all of these things, but I do not have the energy.
From April 17 to the 27th, I was a scholar at the 2013 School of Authentic Journalism, which focused on the intersections of journalism and nonviolent civil resistance. With 39 other scholars who were working in some combination of media and community organizing around the globe, we spent 10 days learning from people who have fought large battles for humanity–and won.
These 10 days were a gift to be free from the marginalization I tend to feel on campus or in the United States at-large. For just under two weeks I was able to live free from the internalized and external shackles of being black in the context of American racism. I didn’t need to feel as suspicious or second guess every interaction I had with another person–or with a piece of media or information. For just under two weeks, I was able to be in a place where revolutionary politics were not isolated as some weird, fringe phenomenon, but celebrated for fulfilling the etymological meaning of “radical” and addressing the roots of structural oppression. And for just under two weeks, I felt safe and comfortable enough with my surroundings–and had enough free time–to I open up to my own feelings and to those of others, enough to fall in love for the first time.
So while I am not completely sure whether I am having a delayed reaction returning from Cape Town, I can almost certainly say the detachment I feel is the result of my experiences at the School of Authentic Journalism over the last two weeks.
I hope to elaborate further on these topics from a better mental space sometime soon.
Kristian extends his apologies to those of you who have suffered through this largely rhetorical exercise in saying nothing by talking about saying nothing in order to fill space in a newspaper (but he did warn you!). Write him anytime at kbailey ‘at’ stanford.edu.