By Kay James '16 The summer after my first-year at Scripps served as an “emotional detox”. I didn’t complete a super awesome internship or travel the world, but the time I spent in my Blanket Burrito was long overdue. Cozied up in front of the newest episodes of “Bad Girls Club,” I felt something I hadn’t in a very long time: peace.
When I arrived at Scripps last fall, I dove headfirst into a variety of clubs, activities, and social groups. My perception of myself and others around me rapidly changed as I considered subjects like race, class, and queerness. I began to view the Claremont Colleges as a “safe space” for me to explore my identities. Halfway through the year, however, I found myself growing restless. As an institution, Scripps College (as well as the other 5Cs) serves as a filter of sorts. For the most part, only students with certain grades and (oftentimes expensive) “extracurricular activities” can enter our sparkling bubble of intellectual curiosity and academic innovation. As a working-class woman of color, I felt this deeply. This realization colored my perspective of nearly every social gathering and discussion I participated in. A question always echoed in my mind: “Whose voices are missing -- right here, right now?”
I began to feel more and more alone, and questioned whether or not anyone could truly relate to all the things I experienced prior to entering the Cloistered Claremont Colleges. One day, while emotionally exhausted, I found the answer: No, no one would ever relate to me fully; and especially not at the 5Cs. There would never be a “safe space” where I could entirely let my guard down; but there were safer spaces. By the end of the year, I realized that analyzing my identity would be an ongoing and extremely personal process. It is impossible to find all the answers to life in one place, let alone one that has as many admission requirements as the Claremont Colleges.
I needed that time to go back home and spend time with family and friends who had backgrounds similar to mine. While watching “Bad Girls Club,” I willingly forgot about all the academic jargon I learned and focused on the women themselves. Although my identity analysis is a continual process, I realized over the summer that not everything needs to be a mental exercise where I break down every single “problematic” element of the things I witness. If I truly called out every single problematic aspect of my life (systemic oppressions included) I would permanently remain in my Blanket Burrito, a sobbing mess. To quote the Combahee River Collective (a collective of Black feminists formed in 1974), “combatting the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face” is a daily struggle that is incredibly exhausting and impacts each individual in unique ways. Personally, my way of “emotionally detoxing” from the struggle involved watching “Bad Girls Club: Miami” and stalking the cast members’ tweets. Most of them were women of color, but did I spend every second “problematizing” their portrayals in the media? No, and I realized that, personally, I needed that time to just watch women who look like me do things I like doing while not caring about what dominant members of society have to say about it.
After all, how often do I get the chance to see that on TV?