My Senior Gift Pictorally: Welcome to My Senior Gift

This is my fifth and final year within this institution.  I will hopefully be released at the end of the summer, but I am able to leave in May 2002 because of "good behavior!"

Now, let me diverge to my past.  Below is an excerpt from a scholarship essay that I wrote in 1997:

I am pursuing a college degree (post-high school education) because I want to learn more, have a desire to make money (with this money give back to those who have helped me along the way), and I need a degree to pursue the career that I want.  I also want to get freedom from my family and home.  In order to get freedom from my family and home, I must show and take on responsibility.  I will be showing responsibility by continuing my education.

Before I even stepped on campus, I was in "love" with UT or at least I thought I was, but it wasn't until later in my life that I realized that you can't love something or someone you don't know. All I knew about UT was their major athletic programs: football, women's basketball, track and field, and men's basketball. I had family members who had played football and ran track, and I was introduced to the lore of UT through their talking of their experiences here. I also had other family members who came here that told me stories about UT as well. I was mesmerized by the stories that I heard and I decided at an early age that I wanted to attend UT. In a sense I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my siblings, I looked up to them. However, my reasons for filling out the application to attend UT was deeper than what has been said thus far. I had to make a decision when push came to shove, so I chose this university because I knew that I felt that I had a good chance of being accepted—I had only been able to afford to pay for one college application fee because of money problems.

Even though I was interested and up-to-date with the athletics at the University, I did not know much about the academics, but I thought what the hell I have family that received a degree from here. I also thought about my alternative, which was UK (University of Kentucky), but I could not and did not want to go there, for I knew how that would adversely affect my life at the time. I had to get away from my home town and venture out to make a new life for myself, so I did. I came here thinking that it would be good for me to come here, however I see now that I was wrong.

Once I reached campus, I was ecstatic. I spent my first year practically in disbelief and awe. I had finally arrived. I was ready to get down to business, but at the same time, I wanted to meet new (friendly) people, have "grand" experiences, and expand my mind. I am not sure of where else I went wrong—coming here was the wrong decision.

I came here and was stared at by people who I guess had never seen a person of color before on "their" campus." But I was also in classes—in which often times I was the only person of color— with students and professors/GTA's/TA's/instructors who looked at me with awe and/or disgust; I guess they also had never seen a person of color before, or they were surprised that I had been accepted. I graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class, received the highest diploma offered by my state, and graduated "with Distinction." I felt that I had earned the right to attend UT. I guess, they thought I was like many of the students here: rich and with no desire to "learn" because they would be working for or with their parents after they received their "diploma" to keep their co-workers and/or employees from assuming that the job was gotten because of their relationship with the owner/CEO/President/founder of the company or corporation.

However, the looks of awe and/or disgust didn't just happen in the classrooms, it occurred on the way to class, walking through the UC & Courtyards, and while walking around campus. I began to feel unwanted here. There were some similar reactions by people of one of my cultures. I talked to (or tried to) everyone that I saw (especially people of color) but many did not respond, overlooked, or ignored me.

It wasn't until the following year that I began to "open" my eyes and snapped out of my "blind and ignorant state." I began to see UT for what (and how) it really was, there was no longer a veil covering my eyes. And then during my 2nd or 3rd I came to the realization that there was something wrong with UT. This was around the same time that I began to do some soul-searching of my own (trying to regain my soul; I did a whole lot of thinking and reading/researching). I guess that was why I began to see UT "for what it was really was and not for what it presented itself to be:" an institution of "higher learning." I guess that in order for us to stop living in "The Matrix" (a reality beyond reality that controls life), we have to cast away our the assumptions that we have come to accept as true from our "schooling" and "institutionalization" and then open our "eyes" to what really happens and has been happenin' here.

I remember how many began to step forward and discuss the harassment, discrimination, and/or racial profiling that had occurred to them by the UT and Knoxville police after a columnist openly talked about an incident that he had with the police last Spring (2001). It wasn't until the "silence was broken" that people began speak to others about what had happened to them. I think that with the events currently happening at the hands of our "corporament" that "silence is betrayal" and will only lead to an increase in injustices, oppression, discrimination, racism, sexism, and ignorance. So "....this shit has got to stop...." ("Cell Therapy" by Goodie Mob).

Many of the comments, ideas, and thoughts that appear on this Web site are shared by others—I have heard and talked with others that feel the same way. I hope that some light shall be shone on the true nature of this corporation that we call the University of Tennessee. Many of the actions and governing methods are similar (and the same) to those I had seen while working in "Corporate America."

I created this Web site to detail and write about "my 5 hellish years at UT!" However, that was when I first started, but as I started thinking and writing about my experiences, I decided to write less about my own personal experiences and concentrate more on the issues and problems.

I hope that others will speak up and out about the problems and issues that face the student body, faculty, and staff of UT, so that they (the problems and issues) can be resolved. My Web site brings about many issues that currently exist here at UT (and has been for who knows how long), but in order for UT to change these issues have to be brought to the forefront. If you don't think anything is wrong then you stand in the way of changes that need to be made.

There probably won't be any solutions given to the problems, as these problems took years to occur, possibly 200+ years, so it might take at least the same amount of time or longer for real "changes" to occur. I am not trying to scare anyone, but am only speaking truthfully. I am not sure how people can think that when there is a problem or issue that has been occurring for centuries or ions that in four or five years the problem(s) will be solved?! Most of these so-called problem-solvers (politicians, administration officials, etc.) don't even solve the problem, they concentrate on the symptoms and never get to the root of the problem. However, I do hope to present some alternatives and possible ways to improve UT.

"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them." - Albert Einstein

Once this is realized hopefully problems can begin to be solved. For those who think that a "reform" is the answer, you may want to do some research on the history of "reforms." From my understanding, reforms have been occurring in this country for the past 300 years, but yet many of the problems that existed then are still "alive and well today." It's time that we quit masquerading the band-aids that we put on problems as "changes," when the "band-aids" only make things worse because instead of dealing with the root cause(s) the symptoms are. It is similar to how non-holistic doctors/physicians operate.

"Muslims tell the story of a mullah (a magic figure in Sufism) who finds a cheese sandwich in his lunch pail one day.   The next day and the day after that he also finds a cheese sandwich in his lunch pail.   After ten days he says, 'I am sick and tired of these cheese sandwiches.'   When his co-workers ask him, 'Why don't you ask your wife to make you another kind of sandwich,' he answers 'But I am not married.   I make my own sandwiches.'"

"So awareness is needed to break out of old patterns."

- from A Muslim View of September 11
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, October 21-27, 2001

Last Modified: 30 October 2007 EST