how have these degrees made me relate differently to blackness? (part 2)

see previous post in this 3-part series

how have these credentials and degrees impacted how i relate to my family?

the first big thing is location. even before i went away for school, there was distance between me and my extended because my family had been migratory. this was largely due to needing to move for my dad’s jobs as pastor (which required that he go to whatever congregation the regional body said he was needed) but there were def other forces that i’ll maybe share about some other time.

but then i left tallahassee (already 2h away from where the rest of my family was concentrated) to come to boston, effectively on the other end of the east coast. i wanted to go to MIT because it was a good school but it was a real factor in my decision making that MIT was far away from home. i was ready to find out more about who i was outside of my home context… basically as far away as i could get.

and i have stayed in boston since graduating (again, for many reasons including perception of my ability to earn income that would help me pay off my student loans) but one of the impacts is being far from my (black) family. i have developed a multi-racial (and other types of multi-) chosen family up here and it’s lovely. it does mean being far from bio family home, though.

i think another way having my credentials shows up is in my ability to relate to my family. having lived far from where most everyone else lives and having had different educational and social experiences from many folks in my family definitely creates some barrier. stories and experiences i share i am very attentive to making sure they don’t come off wildly privileged or out of touch. which just leads to an overall type of self-consciousness that gunks up the relational pathways. or when we connect and talk about certain things “everyone” has been through, sometimes those things are really different.

now, to be clear, there are generational patterns here. more folks in my generation in my extended family went to college in our late teens and 20s than in our parents generation. but i think that just means multiple people in my family are experiencing things like this and that’s still about how we relate to blackness. (of course, the experiences those of us who went to college in my generation are also still black so i’m not saying that going to college isn’t black).

relational barriers like this (and the other types i didn’t describe) are overcomeable for sure. but the barrier is real.

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