Carita Marrow

@cmarrow1228

Restoring My Sanity with Our Renewed Cause Fighting for our Future

2016 UNCF STEM Scholars Orientation. Photo by Johnathon Henninger

Last week, I was verbally assaulted while commuting home from my job in Washington DC. At approximately 6:30 pm on election night, I stood outside of Pentagon City Metro, a major transit and shopping hub,awaiting my apartment shuttle. I anxiously waited to return home fo the election results. I sat down on the crowded bench and snuggled in my scarf and jacket. Fall had arrived in DC.

Out of nowhere, a fast darkly colored car caught my attention as it careened down the street. A male stuck his head out and yelled, “F&8k you Niggers.”

Those around me looked left and right, appalled and in shock. We remained quiet in disbelief. I thought to myself, “ He is not going to be yelling that tomorrow,” believing in my heart that Hillary was going to be named Madame President — Elect. Little did I know this was an omen, a foreshadowing, and a danger sign of what’s to come.

It did not really hit me until I woke up in the middle of the night to Trump’s speech accepting his nomination as President-Elect. A knot formed in my stomach and all I could hear repeating over and over again was , “ F&%k you Niggers.” I began crying and felt hopeless.

THE DAY AFTER

I finally fell back to sleep for a couple of hours and headed to work the next day via the same transit route where I heard the racial slur the night before. A constant reminder and sense of deja vu. Why did this happen… in the melting pot of the DC area of all places? Why did I have to experience this? Why did Trump’s campaign create this monstrous platform elevating the agenda of his supporters? Why did Trump’s Campaign intensify bigotry and hate crime? Was this our new norm and reality? I began to see reports via Social Media of hate crimes across the nation: racist graffiti and slurs. My fellow minorities were falling victim to slurs from kids chanting in Michigan, “Build the wall!” Or being called a, “ Chink.”

On the DC Metro to work, it was eerily quiet. The somber moods of those around me penetrating the cold, brisk, air. Ironically, the dreary, rainy matched our moods appropriately. We were all grieving. I silently cried and wiped my face with my scarf. As I entered the workplace, I was unsure how to greet my team. I sat at my desk and my colleague asked, “ Are you ok?” I shook my head, “no”, and walked to the bathroom to wipe my tears. I looked at my calendar and realized it was jam- packed with meetings in preparation for an upcoming summit. With no time to properly grieve or process the election results, I decided to avoid media and news for the day and drown myself headfirst into my work. Later that afternoon our CEO held an all- staff town hall for us, acknowledging the enormous event that had transpired, and allowed us to grieve together as well as provide words of comfort.

I work at the UNCF ( United Negro College Fund) as a Senior Manager for Science Education Initiatives. My small but mighty team of minorities are preparing for the upcoming 2016 UNCF HBCU Innovation Summit, San Francisco, California, November 16–20.

Embarking on an amazing journey with 52 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students and 20 Computer Science Faculty hailing from 31 HBCUs, our students will travel to Silicon Valley on Nov 16 to ten burgeoning and major tech companies while participating in an event titled, “Get Your Pitch on, a live simulated startup pitch competition before venture capitals. Additional summit activities includes career readiness and tech empowerment workshops while the faculty have a separate track focusing curriculum development to align with tech industry standards. The HBCU delegation will meet executives from leading tech companies and employees that look like them — all who have an investment and desire to advance their careers and manifest their dreams. We all have a job… to protect the voices of our future. The majority of our youth voted for a progressive leader. So let’s continue to fight the good fight together. I will continue to fight for my minorities students turning them into leaders of tomorrow.

The work I do is why the election hit me so hard. I cried because, like so many others, fight so hard each day to build pathways for the youth we serve. I cried because I was unsure how I was going to protect the 200+ minority students I provide scholarships and professional development from hate crimes and racial/sexist/misogynistic slurs. I cried because I was scared of what’s coming next. I felt defeated. I talked to many of my friends who felt the same. But, our grief and fear turned into hope and opportunity as the week trailed on…

But alas, the grieving must come to an end, for our work must continue and be done. My sanity has been restored looking into the eyes of our future; kick rocks to the racist from the car window who held me down for a brief moment. I have risen.

Thank you to my tribe and supporters who held me up along the way. We are in this together.

Photos captured by Johnathon Henninger from a recent STEM Scholars Conference organized by my team
Photos from 2015 UNCF HBCU Innovation Summit

Thanks to my tribe and supporters who held me up along the way. We are in this together. Follow #HBCUInnovation to witness our journey.

Check out our 2016 UNCF HBCU Innovation Summit Fellows

-C

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