Brownsville, Concord

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Natasha was a young girl from the Van Dyke projects of Brooklyn, New York, desperately searching for a way to see a bit more of the world.  St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire gave her a chance to be more than what her circumstances would allow.  Twenty years later she reflects on her four years at the school and how the experience changed how she saw herself.

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Concord

5 Things To Know About A Black Person Who Went To Prep School In New Hampshire – #5

Her Experience Is Not Exactly Like Anyone Else’s

So I’ve been having a bit of fun with these posts today.  But the most important thing to know about Black People Who Went to Prep School in New Hampshire is that while it is a shared experience everyone goes through something different.

All Black people are not the same and not all Black experiences are either.

Concord

5 Things To Know About A Black Person Who Went To Prep School In New Hampshire – #4

She Had A Hard Time Finding A Place To Get Her Hair Done

This certainly probably applies more to girls than boys.  But while I lived in Brownsville there were several places for me to get my hair done within walking distance.  In Concord the nearest Black salon was about an hour away.  I spent most of my time at SPS with my hair in a state my mother called – “not done”.  I just had to get over having to keep my hair a certain way.  It was more sleep or curled hair.  Sleep always won.

Concord

5 Things To Know About A Black Person Who Went To Prep School In New Hampshire – #3

She Wanted To Learn Everything About Her Heritage

Being in New Hampshire made me keenly aware of my race so it forced me to think about who I am and how I came to be.  Shout out of thanks to Ms. Carter who ran the only African-American history seminar.  (Her reading list was ridiculous but I finished it.)

Nothing’s more comforting than knowing where you come from when you’re out of your comfort zone.

Concord

5 Things To Know About A Black Person Who Went To Prep School In New Hampshire – #2

She Met Black People With Ancestry From All Over The World

I was surprised when I first met a White person who did not realize that not every Black person in America is from the South with roots in slavery.  The Black population in the United States is incredibly diverse with ancestry from all over the world.  It wasn’t until prep school that I met Black people from Africa or learned about all the different countries that make up the West Indies.  As Black people we all get clumped together but our diversity runs deep.

Concord

5 Things To Know About A Black Person Who Went to Prep School In New Hampshire – #1

She lost track of the number of times she was the only Black person in the room.

Growing up in Brownsville I was only used to being in classrooms with Black and Hispanic students so when I went to St. Paul’s initially I stepped into every room and looked around for the other Black or Hispanic people and often I could not spot any.  So eventually I just stopped checking.

Concord

In The Light

I firmly believe that you cannot talk about the good of a place and not acknowledge the wrongs that occurred there.  St. Paul’s was a safe haven for me.  I had a very positive experience.  But this is not true for every student or alum.

The school has spent years hiding the truth and many people suffered in silence.  Now those who were dismissed and silenced can speak out freely with the acknowledgement of their pain.

I cannot imagine how someone who experienced the trauma feels but I hope they find comfort in the light after so many years forced into darkness.