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Voices: "A school so large and so white"

Chalk Q&A

Anthony Boynton is a third year doctoral student who has previously attended a school from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Voices is a Q&A section for students from underrepresented backgrounds to discuss their experiences at the University of Kansas. 

Anthony Boynton is a third year doctoral student in the English department at the University of Kansas. Boynton originates from Columbus, Georgia, and attended Fort Valley State University for undergrad, and Georgia College & State University for graduate school.

I’m definitely southern and it kind of shows up in my work. Along with black speculative fiction like science fiction and Afro-futurism, I study black history and literature. A lot of those authors are southern or have southern roots.

Columbus was kind of a smaller town with a big town mindset when I was growing up. Now, it’s trying to be a city city, it is the second largest city in Georgia — most people forget that, too.

When I talk to black people who have not been to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, they feel like they’ve missed some things. I’m like, “I’m sorry, you did. You missed something.” It was a beautiful experience. I would do I don’t know what to go back.

At 17, I could not have gone to a school so large and so white. I learned more about myself in the first year of being at Fort Valley State University than I did any of the 17 or 18 years beforehand.

My junior year at Fort Valley, I went to the annual Harlem Renaissance conference at Paine University, another HBCU in Georgia. I presented on Langston Hughes as an essayist, not as poet. After my presentation, a woman who was sitting in the back came up to me and said, “oh my gosh, that was so amazing that was so brilliant. You should go to graduate school.” It was Dr. Maryemma Graham, who I didn’t realize was a university distinguished professor at the University of Kansas, a research one university.

I reconnected with Dr. Graham during graduate school and she said I still had a chance to apply to the University. Kansas is different, I said.

My mom was born only a couple hours away from here in Fort Leonard Wood, Miss. — I don’t know where that is. My dad was born not two hours from here in Fort Riley. I wouldn’t say I have roots here, but there are some things that connect me with this space.

I was about to say I don’t know how POC’s make it at PWI’s — I know how we make it. We make it through struggling, through pushing, pressing.

We should be honoring the Office of Multicultural Affairs at every given moment.

Know your worth and know you’re worthy of being educated, because a part of the way that universities kind of collude in various power structures is they make POC’s believe we’re not worthy of being here.

I think we misuse the word self care. Actively engage in prioritizing your health, take a personal day if you need to, try to eat healthy if it’s in your means.

I will listen to some gospel to start my day, I’ll listen to H.E.R or Chance the Rapper or Brock Hampton. Music can be inspiring and affirming and pushing, it’s like, ok well we made it through this part of the day, let’s crush this shit for the rest of the day.

If you or someone you know identifies as a person or woman of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, undocumented, Muslim, indigenous, first-generation, low-income, international, an immigrant or disabled and wants to have their voice heard -- send us a message on Twitter (@chalk__mag) or Instagram (@chalk_mag). 

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