pwi: black folks, white school

Life of a Black Girl

Last week was amazing! So many of you opened to me about interracial dating on my Instagram and I had the chance to read a lot of your opinions on the matter. This meant so much to me!


Due to this, I wanted to open up the discussion once again and try something new. I wanted to have a “his / hers comparison” so I asked my friend, Mark, to share his experience with me.


Funny enough, Mark and I are both from Brampton, Ontario; even though, we never crossed paths before. Our backgrounds are a bit different, but what we have in common is that we both go to Western University which means that we both go to a PWI – a Predominantly White Institution. 

Now a lot of you might think that being a black student at a PWI is like this all of the time:


Image from Buzzfeed


But don’t worry, it’s only like that some of the time! That’s why Mark and I will recount our experiences and you can see a side-by-side view of what it was like for us at a PWI.


B: Coming to Western University, I was super excited as it was the only university that I wanted to go to (other than University of British Columbia, but my parents wouldn’t let me go that far). My biggest fear was not the lack of diversity, but the party image. I was pretty sheltered and came from private schools and a performing arts school so I was very used to being the only or one of the few black kids in my class. This placed me in the “oreo” category – black on the outside, white on the inside.


Image from Buzzfeed


M: The time between the day I received my acceptance into Western University and the day I was set to move into residence was filled with anxiety. Coming from the city of Brampton, where cultural and ethnic diversity was the norm, I feared that I would not be accepted into the Western community. How would an awkward and goofy black kid from the GTA fit in with the likes of private school kids? I had never even heard of Canada Goose until I moved to London!


Image from KitaAdams.


B: Once I got to UWO, I quickly got over my “party fear” and my friends in my residence became my family. These people became and continue to be my supports throughout my discovery of myself. Being a black female in a sorority and other predominantly white groups sometimes left me feeling a bit lost at times, but I have great friends who embrace and remind who I am.


M: But what I expected was much different than what I would experience. My years at this university have been the greatest and worst moments of my life. From meeting people who I consider my family to recognizing the effects of mental health, my time there was nothing but ordinary. But throughout that time, I was always me. I never once had to change to ‘fit in,’ and I never had to check someone for their ignorance.


Image from Mark’s Facebook.


Mark’s and my experiences cannot speak for all POCs in PWIs. But I want Mark to close this one as his words are key advice to anyone to thinking about going to / are in a PWI.


M: I recognized who I was, who I want to surround myself with, and what I wanted to get out of this experience. In doing so, I refused to let anyone ruin that for me. I was unapologetically me and I have become a better person because of it. I think the message that I am trying to send here is one of self-love and self-acceptance. It is only once you start losing sights of who you are that you become threatened by change and new experiences. Stay true to yourself and, trust me when I say that, you will enjoy any environment that you are in.



A Conscious Black Woman