Black and Weird: Reflections on My High School Years
In high school, I felt isolated and unsure of my place, as one of the few black students at Wilson High School in Portland, OR. This song is inspired by that experience.
In high school, I felt isolated and unsure of my place, as one of the few black students at Wilson High School in Portland, OR. I roamed the halls, seeking connection but often feeling out of place with both black and white students. This song represents my journey from feeling weird to finding pride and joy in my unique perspective on the world. Attending Fisk University, an HBCU, helped me find community and acceptance.
I learned to maintain unconditional positive regard for myself.
This journey allowed me to extend unconditional positive regard to students, colleagues, and family.
I still felt weird in college, but I found community among poets and artists.
Listen to Trollbots.
In high school, I lived in Portland, OR. It's a place where years later, artist Amine bought a billboard ad that read "Yes, there are black people in Portland." My high school was located in the southwest quadrant of Portland on top of the hill of SW Vermont St. When I went there, it was called Wilson High School (Ida B. Wells in 2023).
I wish I could've put on the marquee, "Yes, there are black people in WHS." I was one of the few. I was also new, having moved from San Diego to live with my mom while my dad returned to active duty in the military.
I had a few friends, but mostly roamed the halls at lunchtime, hopping from one group to the next. I wasn't a loner, but rather a roamer, true to my always-moving nature. I roamed the halls, and there was a feeling of sadness and uncertainty in my steps. I often felt isolated, not black enough for the other black students there. With the white students, my presence ranged from indifference to “we don’t see color.”
This song captures the transformation of feeling weird into a source of pride and joy. In high school, I thought I was weird because I was black in an all-white space. To shift this experience, I went to Fisk University, an HBCU. In an all-black college space, I still feel weird, but it's less weird than in high school. I realize I'm weird because of my perspective on the world, my preference for solitude, my old soul, my black and yellow Nike slip-on shoes, and my nickname of Tito, which I did not choose.
I felt weird in college, but I found community there as well. I suspect the community of poets and artists I found felt this weirdness too. When I move back to Portland, I realize that it's okay to be weird. This is one of the steps on my journey to accept myself, heal, and belong to myself. I'm learning how to maintain unconditional positive regard for myself, and this allows me to extend the same to my students, colleagues, and family.
So that they can be weird in a space of grace and love.
This heals divides and inspires song.
As always, genius over doubt.
P.S. Here’s the youtube link if Spotify is not your jam.