Growing up I have been very fortunate to be raised by two amazing parents and lived somewhere that I was able to enjoy being a kid. Throughout my time in primary and secondary school, no one looked like my sister and I. It was hard to have others relate and connect to me when I went to a predominately white school in a very small town.
There were many struggles in being raised in a community that has less than 5% that look like you; name-calling, bullying, and subtle discrimination. There have been times that racial slurs were even used to describe me. This was something that caused me to get thicker skin and learn to turn the other cheek instead of having them get a reaction out of me. Some of the things I didn’t always pick up on because I was so young but ultimately, that experience made me into a stronger person. As all people do, I had my insecurities. The curls that grew from my head, dark melanin, and long legs were things that I was unable to appreciate in myself because I was not surrounded by it in the classroom or with my peers.
Basketball was a major impact and changed my outlook on a lot of things. I was able to travel to many different places and met people from all over. It gave me chance to branch out and connect with others that look like me as well. Throughout college, this became something that helped me step out of my comfort zone and appreciate myself more.
Now being here in Ireland, I feel that things have finally come full circle. We are going to small secluded schools throughout Donegal and are not only learning about the sport of basketball, but they are also meeting people that do not look like them. They have never been around people of color and are intrigued to learn more about us Scholars and at the same time, it becomes a conversation piece in meeting people throughout Ireland (lol). Their perceptions of us were limited to how we are portrayed on TV and as a result, many of them are in awe when we first arrive. The curls that grew from my head, dark melanin skin, and long legs were now things that made me that much more distinguished. All in all, I am happy to have something like the sport of basketball. It has guided and molded me into the person I am today. A little black girl from Troy, New York, would never imagine herself continue to play the sport she loves and teach the game at the same time!