For the next four days I will be in Washington D.C. attending the annual Associated Collegiate Press Conference (ACP). To say the least, the ACP is an amazing opportunity that I am so grateful to attend and be a part of amongst my Sentry colleagues, but this column isn’t going to be about ACP. Next week, I’ll catch you all up on what I learned from the conference, what experiences I gained from the trip, etc. the whole shebang but instead this column is dedicated to Washington D.C. in general.
I’ve heard a lot of great things about Washington D.C.—that it was a cool city with great vibes and an energetic atmosphere. But one thing that I’ve heard the most and looked forward to was knowing that D.C. was a place where there was a vibrant, prosperous, African American community. Growing up in Colorado, I’ve always ran into the issue of always being the minority in my classes and would come across microaggressions where people would call me “too white” for the way I spoke or acted because I was in honors class and most if not all of the time had friends that weren’t African American. I’m not going to get too racially/ politically charged but I never understood what it meant to be “too white” just because I was educated, and I always found pleasure asking people to explain what exactly that meant.
Stepping into D.C. for the first time felt like a breath of fresh air because for the first time, in a long time, I finally felt seen and represented. Seeing people like me, I was more captivated watching them walking to their jobs, standing in line getting coffee, dressed up in suits and skirts, than I was in the city itself. Today, being the first day in D.C., I had but a brief moment to step inside the National Portrait Gallery, but I spent majority of that time gazing at Barack and Michelle Obama’s portrait and if I’m being honest, I almost cried. I’m bringing back print versions of those portraits to my brother and sister when I get back home because even though it’s not technically the same, I want them to feel seen and represented and experience what I felt as I stood in that gallery.