He thought I shouldn’t be there.

Danielle Hayden
Detroit, MI

My freshman year of college, a boy at orientation (with whom I had only recently become acquainted told me that the only reason I had gotten into the University of Michigan was because of Affirmative Action. This wounded me deeply, and I became obsessed with proving to everyone how intelligent I was, almost to the point of being pretentious. Every time I walked into a classroom I was convinced that none of the white people felt that I deserved to be there; that I had somehow taken “stolen” someone else’s spot. I was an exemplary scholar but that didn’t seem to matter. I knew that some of them took one look at me and thought I was a quota case, so I had to prove them wrong. I became obsessed with disproving the notion that black students were only granted admission on account of skin color. I seized every opportunity I could to “make my race look good.”

 

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