Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Liverpool for 10 days with a group of Hope College delegates to participate in The Big Hope 2. This young leaders’ congress was an amazing experience. Young people all over the word came together to discuss freedom, conflict, equality and change, in a way I had not been able to partake in before. It was a truly unique, inspiring, and educational 10 days. It was also a difficult and exasperating time filled with self doubt.
While I enjoyed every academic aspect of being on Liverpool Hope University’s campus, being in Liverpool was another story. My 10 days in Liverpool will always stand out to me as a time where my identity and sense of self worth were shaken. I had never before wished so desperately to be invisible. It seemed as if everywhere I went I was met with either harsh glares or cameras put in my face, reminding me that my dark skin was not a norm. With whichever of these two actions, people (whether on purpose or unfortunately due to lack of cultural experience) made me feel like an anomaly.
A few of these situations included trying to decide what to order in the café of the Museum of Liverpool while being stared down before ending up leaving with nothing. Or, forcing a smile as a group of women rushed around me, pinched my cheeks, called me orange because of the color of my then hair and took pictures, were difficult to come to terms with.
Coming back home to regroup was immensely important. Conversations with friends and family once more filled my spirit with love and dignity. I knew that I had done nothing wrong. I knew that many of those moments were charged by ignorance. I also knew that while it is okay to hurt after being faced with seemingly hundreds of microaggressions, I should not have let my self truths waiver.
I am strong. I am intelligent. I will continue on my path of education, spreading awareness of themes of love, equality, and justice on a global scale. My goal on this second, much longer trip to Liverpool, is to remain resilient and focused. I hope to find the same joys I’d found on campus, throughout the city.