I hated my first year of college. So much that, by my second year, I was on the verge of failing out.
I’m not sure how many of my readers are black (African-American, if you prefer), but I remember filling out my application to THEE Ohio State University and being asked my ethnicity. Do you know how irritating that is for black people? Not the action of being asked. But that it makes a difference. Readers. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. In 2011, it still makes a difference. How sad. But this was 1995, and it made a difference because it determined the ethnicity of my advisor and freshman mentor. White kids didn’t even GET mentors. I wish I was making this stuff up.
I was miserable. I joke at times – on this site, with my family and friends – that I am probably the whitest black person I know. Okay, so there is Michael Steele. But to be labeled “black” – on a piece of paper, no less – means you’re marginalized. Stereotyped. Black qualifies my skin color and hair texture (and even that is only on a bad day). I’m a person. But that piece of paper paired me with a group of people who were heavy into Kwanzaa and kufis and Malcolm X. I’m not even joking when I tell you my advisor stressed the importance of joining the Black Cultural Center. Almost with a “join or die” emphasis. I am not knocking the program. But it wasn’t for me. I unabashedly blast Christopher Cross for chrissakes! If joining or being solely affiliated with one group or race was going to define me, I was ready to jump ship.
Enter my former roommate, current best friend, and godmother to my oldest child. Tall, goofy white girl from Medina, Ohio. She didn’t understand affirmative action, but wasn’t afraid of me when I bunked with her. She couldn’t get the gist of black hair texture, but didn’t make fun of it. She was inquisitive. She asked me questions when she didn’t understand. She wanted to learn and become better educated of our differences – not to paint me in a box, but to better learn of this lifelong friend she was making. Between her and BFam, I survived college.
There are songs from this time period that, along with my memories of her, put me in such a happy space. We still laugh about our nights rollerskating Neil Avenue with one pair of skates. And God forbid a song play, a song from this era. We are splayed out on the floor, holding our sides, bellies tight with guffaws, eyes filled with tears.
College: 1995 – 1999
I could truly go on and on with music from this era. I have to stop myself, the list would be infinite. Sure, most you could probably find on a Rock Band playlist, but still. You have to admit. Legen, wait for it… dary.
- Wonderwall – Oasis (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, 1995)
- The Difference – The Wallflowers (Bringing Down The Horse, 1996)
- Zombie – The Cranberries (No Need To Argue, 1994)**
- 3 AM – Matchbox 20 (Yourself or Someone Like You, 1996)
- All For You – Sister Hazel (…Somewhere More Familiar, 1997)*
- Down – 311 (311, 1996)
- Sex And Candy – Marcy Playground (Marcy Playground, 1997)*
- You Get What You Give – New Radicals (Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, 1998)*
- The Distance – Cake (Fashion Nugget, 1996)
- Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind (Third Eye Blind, 1997)
- Follow You Down – Gin Blossoms (Congratulations I’m Sorry, 1996)
- Interstate Love Song – Stone Temple Pilots (Purple, 1994)**
- Nobody Knows – Tony Rich (The Tony Rich Project, 1995)
- Ironic – Alanis Morisette (Jagged Little Pill, 1995)
* BFam pick
** Not technically meeting the period requirement, but so close it should count anyway.