New Hampshire Students Share What It's Like to Be Black and Brown At Their Schools | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire Students Share What It's Like to Be Black and Brown At Their Schools

Jul 9, 2020

Justice Buckley, co-administrator of the Black at UNH Instagram account
Credit Courtesy of Justice Buckley

Since the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, Black and Brown students across New England and the country have launched social media pages describing what it's like to be a person of color at a mostly white school.

On the Black at New Hampton Instagram account, students and alumni of color from the New Hampton School share their stories anonymously.

I asked the faculty member if they cared whether or not the music I played in the car was explicit. The faculty member who is white responded with, “I don't care, you can play whatever. I just don't like music where they call each other…” and proceed to say the hard-r n-word. She said it without hesitation and didn't apologize for the comment.

Credit Anonymous submission to Black at New Hampton

I'm tired of teachers and staff thinking that they can get away with insensitive comments, posed as compliment and sometimes genuine concern. “How old were you when you moved to the States? How lucky you must be to have made it to a school of this caliber. Your family must be so proud of you. You speak English so well, no accent at all. Be careful, with a guy like that, you may end up pregnant,” hinting at the fact that my boyfriend is Black and Latina women are expected to become teen mothers.

Students and alumni from Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College and St. Paul’s School have similar pages.

Justice Buckley, a junior at UNH who helps run the Black at UNH Instagram account, joined NHPR’s All Things Considered host Peter Biello to talk about the page.

So what led you to help to run Black at UNH on Instagram?

You know, it's just especially in times like now where there's just so much going on, on a day-to-day basis, in the entire country. It's kind of hard to know where you can start.

And so, you know, the original creator of the account had posted a story from the page and I saw it and it was saying that they needed help, if someone can help as much as they could, that it would be appreciated. And so I reached out and they got back to me and it was pretty seamless. And then I just started doing what I could. Sorting submissions, putting them into the template that we posted them to the account.

And the template, we should explain to listeners who can't see it right now, it’s blocks of blue text with white lettering, very simple. And it spells out the experiences that people have submitted. I wanted to ask you Justice, have there been times when you have been made to feel unsafe or unwelcome at UNH?

I would say so, but I would say that also every person of color's experience is different there. But in my personal experiences, I have on occasion experienced some things like that. And mostly it's microaggressions, things that people say that they don't realize how deep it kind of hits for the victim of whatever they might have said.

Credit Anonymous submission to Black at UNH

But I think, honestly, that that's kind of the biggest part of what may make people of color at UNH feel unwelcome or unsafe, those microaggressions because they just get beneath your skin. And it's just kind of something that you can't really get over.

Well, in the interest of making sure these voices get as wide an audience as possible, do you have some selections from Black at UNH that you'd feel comfortable reading?

I do.

"I was so excited to go to UNH, but when I got there and “Cinco de Drinko” happened my freshman year, I was embarrassed. When a sorority made international news, I was angry. When my hall director’s board was vandalized with the n-word, I was in shock. When a dorm was covered in swastikas, I was heartbroken. When Black Lives Matters fists were put up here on campus, I was proud until they got destroyed by the students. UNH did close to nothing, and I was livid. I transferred because the school didn't care about their students."

Credit Anonymous submission to Black at UNH

If someone within the UNH administration is listening to this story of the student feeling so disappointed and feeling compelled to leave campus because of all the terrible things that they saw, what would you want that UNH administrator to say?

That's another great question. I really think it's hard for anyone to find the words to say something about that. But, you know, what I would say is that these kind of things are happening all the time on this campus, and if they want something to be done about it and they don't want this to be their reputation, then there should be some actions that are taken that represent those intentions.