Against All Odds: Reflections from a “Scary” Black Woman


  • DeLisha Sylvester University of Dayton


This reflective essay addresses the use of sanctuaries as resistance capital, the burden of resistance, and the impacts of Black visibility within higher education from a first-year doctoral student. It addresses the concepts of identity, whiteness, and representation, and how they have shaped my experiences within a predominantly white Marianist institution that has claimed to have taken charge against racist practices. It considers my background as a first-generation college student who has felt the need to minimize myself in spaces of whiteness to adhere to white comfort and make myself more palatable. Additionally, it presents my decision, not to negotiate my Blackness and how it alters how I am viewed within these spaces. Lastly, it addresses the stereotypical notions of the “scary Black woman” and how utilizing my voice and perspective has created an atmosphere of fear for my white counterparts. Reflecting on my experiences within higher education will help to shine a light on the intersectionalities of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black experience and how those outer movements shape how I create both resistance and a holistic approach to wholeness in an environment created for white students.

Keywords: reflection, whiteness, white privilege, sanctuary, stereotypes