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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Planted Seed

By Nwannediya U. Kalu

Every Spokane teen has their own story of growing up, facing challenges and working to match or beat expectations. Now add the complicating factors of being a Black high school student in a city that is often welcoming, but overwhelmingly white. In today’s Serendipity section, The Spokesman-Review shares essays and a poem by six such young people. Each of their stories brings a different perspective. And yet each of them expresses a yearning for acceptance and respect.


As I gradually open my eyes after a long night’s rest, the morning sun captivates me. I am aware that my day is about to begin.

We never know what the day will hold or the lessons that are soon to be learned, but luckily that’s the beauty of life. Growing up, I personally have had a positive outlook on life, always wanted to make friends and simply be accepted. To this day, I am the same person but the experiences of code switching, microaggressions, insecurities and degrading have been glazed over my brain. You may think that took a sharp turn left, but this is how reality hits you. It’s how it hit me.

As a young African American woman, I never thought I would be a victim to some of the endless traumatic acts my fellow Black people have experienced, but I was wrong.

Over the course of my life, an abundance of internal pain and self-doubt has been experienced. There were times where my days would be taken over by my emotions of sorrow and worry about what the outside world thinks of me. What they think of my Blackness and my own culture that is portrayed through me when I step out my door. Growing up in Spokane, a city that is not as diverse as others, has undoubtedly played a role in these moments of my life.

My need to bond over culture was not provided to me as much as I wholeheartedly craved. My soul ached for times where I could bond over the size of my afro with my brothers and sisters who rocked them with confidence just like me. Or have that time to sit and discuss social justice issues with one another and not have a doubt in my mind that they related to the same struggles I faced. Taking into consideration that we have influences all around us, I took what was in front of me and tried to make it my own, finding bits and pieces of my culture anywhere I could amongst the lack of diversity. Still, added to my memory were stereotypes and absence of knowledge from peers.

“You don’t talk Black; you’re whitewashed,” when I would speak.

“Is that your real hair?” when I style my hair they assume doesn’t belong to me.

The weight those words hold is enough to sink a ship, but instead the ship is my self-confidence. It’s quite draining trying to fight these constant ideologies that have been stamped on your forehead as soon as the world saw your skin was colored a little more than the rest. But hey, I guess that is just the seed that was planted and continues to grow.