Lauryn Jordan, Itzel Diaz & Ana Stahlman

#4: Lauryn, Itzel & Ana

Lauryn Jordan, Itzel Diaz, and Ana Stahlman recorded their conversation during the African American Read-In at IU Bloomington's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on February 5, 2018.

Description of the video:

Alright, so how did you get started with the read-in?
I remember like a big like, I guess like, not controversial thing, but like thing people would talk about a lot is like, Oh, like is it only for African American students? You know what I mean? So I was like, I don't know if I should go. Like, I mean, I'm not white, but like, I mean, once I went, I honestly felt at home, like-
They just talk about and read about stuff that, like, we don't usually talk about in school, like, just like things we can actually relate to because usually what we learn in school isn't like- It's not as diverse.
Yeah, or real. 
A lot about Europeans and that kind of thing.
And they, like, just focus on that.
They might touch on issues related to minorities, but it's never fully explained. But I really liked this because there are like white students who do go, and I think it's good for them to also see, "Wow, these people, they do have these kinds of struggles." And I think it brings to more the forefront of their mind that there are issues for us. And like, yes, they say, "Oh, for black people," but it's like, because that is a place where we can go and feel comfortable to say what we want and how we want. And there are people around us, not just for black- just minorities in general.
I mean, like, one question is, like, do you guys feel like it impacted the way, like your decision on whether you were going to come to IU or not? Because that's something everyone's been asking us, so-
I can't say it, like, it was my core decision to. But one of the guys, I remember, his name was Ignacio. I did a musical with him way back when, and I saw him at it and, like, talking and everything, and I was like, "Oh, he's so cool." And like I just thought it was really cool and like all of the people that were there, and some of them went to North. And I was like, man, they're really like getting involved and getting in this.  It seems like a very diverse place that I can finally, like, be around people like me, that understand. Because when you go to a high school that is predominantly white, and you're sitting around like, white individuals all day, you kind of get to feel a little lonely. Like, "Oh, hey, everyone!" Like when there's a question about, like, something that is related to minorities, you're the first one everyone's looking at.
It's like, "Oh, what do you think?" And I'm just like-
Oh, they really put you on the spot like that. I remember in class where it was like, oh, we'll talk about like Hispanics or something. And then it's like, "Okay, Itzel, what do you think?" And I'm like, I'm not like every Hispanic person. I don't want to talk for all of them. Like, no, I just, that always bothers me because I was like, I know, like, I am Hispanic and I can talk about it, but it's like, why am I the first one?
Exactly! That's why-
You're the teacher, you talk about it. Why are you talking about it for me?
I enjoyed the read-in, but to be honest, the Groups Scholars Program is the biggest reason I'm here.
Like, I think one of the first times in my life I was ever like, I'm comfortable There are other girls here- I change my hair all the time. And people don't understand it. They're like, "Why is your hair different?" Like, yada yada. I'm like, It's like a culture thing, like it's just, people in, like, my culture, it's a thing to change your hair and like have crazy new styles all the time and everything. And it was nice to be around other girls who did that, so for me, it was a huge, like, really nice, you know.
Yeah, definitely for me, like the Read-In did play a part of, like why I came to IU, just because I noticed that it was like a diverse place, I guess. Like, at North, you would never really see that many Hispanic or Latinos. Like I could count on my hand how many people there was my freshman year. Like there was not that many of us. And then, coming here, I'm like, oh my gosh, like there's people who look like me, who I can like talk to and relate to.
No way!
Right?
So I was like, I can, like- That played a factor of why I chose here. Like, and definitely the Groups Scholars, too, because they even talk about it here, like, "Who's a Groups Scholar?" And you're like, "Hey, that's-"
Groups! Groups! Groups!
[laughter]
So it's like right! So for me, it did. Like it wasn't the main thing, but like, the Read-In definitely like influenced, like, in a way, just seeing like, all other minorities, too, you know, knowing that, like, I feel comfortable here. Like, I fit in somewhere here. So it's like yeah.
So like, what over the years has really shaped you guys the most for, like, wanting to go to college?
I didn't think college was a, like a possibility for me, just because my parents didn't go to college. My sisters didn't. Like I'm the first one who's gone to college. And so, like, actually, I heard about Groups from you. You were the one who, like, pushed me more to actually, like cause I remember saying, like, it's like, I don't have money like that. And, like, I don't think I'm smart enough to even go to college, but like, she's, Lauryn was the one who was like, "Oh, go talk to your counselor. Talk to her about Groups." And like we talked about it. And I mean, like, I'm here. Like, I got a full-ride scholarship, so it's like-
Yeah.
It's crazy how life works, honestly, like that, just 'cause like, just like one decision or, like, hearing one thing can affect your whole life, like if you didn't know about Groups, or if we didn't know about Groups, then I don't think I'd be able to get in college, not gonna lie.
Or be at IU.
No, I wouldn't.
And that's okay, like I'm okay with Ivy Tech. That's totally fine, but I don't think I could've got the same, like, resources or opportunities if I wasn't in this institution. Yeah.
It was always instilled for me, like, my mom went to IU. My dad went to IU. My cousins went to IU.
My brother went to IU. My sister goes to IU currently. So it was kind of like, well, I gotta find a way in, guys. Like, where am I gonna get in at? So like that was a big thing, but also I don't know, like over the years, people have like, like when you look at a minority, they're kind of like, "Oh, I mean, you could try, like I don't know, you know." But kind of proving, like, I can do this, like, I am strong. I can do this, and I just want to prove I can make something of myself, because my dad always told me when I would get down, "It's not where you start. It's where you finish." And then all the people you know through the years that have kind of like tried to bring you down. It's like, look where they're at now. And look where I've come now.
Your race kind of like impacts the way people see you and how, like, you're gonna end up in life. 'Cause people told me, "Oh, your mom was 16 and pregnant?" "You probably will be, too." "So, just telling you that." And it's like, oh, but it's like, I'm 18 right now. My freshman year in college. I'm doing good, so it's like, I don't have any kids, so it's like-
But you do!
[laughter]
My dog, but that's it.
[laughter]
No, I hate stigmas behind like ethnicity or like even like little things like the Groups program, like yeah, okay, I'm a minority. Yeah, I got a scholarship. Yeah, I didn't need the greatest GPA. Or like even just like being who you are, people are like, "Oh, I expect that out of you." "Oh, that's what you're supposed to be." And I'm like, no, just because like, you know, I come from a place like that, that's not who I am.
They like want to put you in a box.
Yeah, they really do.
"Oh, you're this? Okay, you're in this box."
Like, they just expect because I'm- I'm biracial, but people are just going to see black. They assume, "Oh, you're just another angry black female," if you ever, like, say anything, "Oh, that's not fair." Or "Oh, why are you counting me out of it?" "Ugh, you're just mad, like, ugh, you're just complaining." And it's like, no, I'm not. Like, this is a problem!
We have reason to be mad, though.
Right!
I don't know.
You're telling me I can't be mad? Okay.
Exactly.
Right.
Which year do you guys feel like really impacted you the most, with like the Read-In, like one that you really remember the most?
Eighth grade or freshman year, so ninth grade. When I saw Ignacio up there, just like seeing someone that you know doing something that's like great and very empowering just makes you, I want to do something great and empowering. I want to be able to, like, Even he probably didn't even know how much of an impact he made. But I saw him, and like, when he was younger, too, but like, and doing a musical with me, And I was like, he's just such a role model for me, like. And I was just like, oh man, like he's really getting into this. He's very proud of himself and everything, and I was just like, how can I get like that? You know? And just really admiring him for that.
I think, for me, it was last year actually, my senior year, just because it was when Donald Trump was already president. But it was just such a, like, big issue because, like, he targeted so many people. And then, like, coming here, so many people just read like how they felt, and, like, people started crying. Like it was really deep, so I know that was one where really, I was like, wow, like This is really like a big thing that's like going on right now in the world. And the fact that, like, we're talking about it right now. So I definitely feel like my senior year was like the most where I'm like I will never forget that. Like that was really impactful for me.
Right. No, I really liked last year. I mean, yeah, it was my first time, but like, it was during a really hard time for like everyone and you know when you just see people around school, and you just like-
I mean, even though I just, I'm a hypocrite low-key, but
you know, you just,
They do bad things and like,
okay, you're a part of that crowd, but then, like, someone performed, and it like really impacted me 'cause like I always saw him as like kind of like a-
Or like it's one of those things where you do something bad, and that's just what you're seen as always. And like, I low-key did the same with him. Like, oh, he's a bad kid, like blablabla, whatever you want to say. But then when he went up there and like he just really went.
Right.
I like saw him for who he was and like, I was like, well, I misjudged him, and I felt so bad about it, but like, I mean, it was just crazy for me.
That's where like learned helplessness comes in, and you see it a lot with kind of like people who are perceived as that. It's like, People see me as a thug. People see me as, oh, you make me mad, I'm going to go off on you. If that's how you're seeing me, you don't think I'm going to do much with myself. Why am I trying, then? Like, if that's all you're going to see me as anyways, like you don't even give me a chance. And I think that's like where this kind of really embraced, okay, you're a minority. Okay, be proud of that. Like that is who you are. Like you don't need to feel ashamed about it. This is you. This is who you are, like it doesn't matter what anyone else says. It is, like, at the end of the day, how you handle yourself is what matters.
Right.
Prove to them, don't give them a reason to look at you or come for you. And I think that's one of the biggest issues. At least like at school from where I would see it, like a lot of other black females, I get funny looks sometimes because, or get made fun of because of my voice, because I don't sound, I guess, your typical black female. I'm not- 
It's like one of those things where like, oh, you're not Latina enough. You're not black enough. And it's like, what does that even mean, though?
It's low-key really hard to be a mixed person. Like, it's so fricking hard.
I can't just be like, oh, yeah, F my white side. I'm like, sorry, Mom. Sorry, that side of my family. But no, it's like, I'm both, and like I'm proud of being both. Like, I'm fine. And it's just like, "Oh, you sound so white." "You're probably the whitest black person I've ever met." And it's like-
What does that even mean? Like, it's like correct grammar? Am I not supposed to do that, speak correctly? Like, I don't know.
I'll try my best to stop.
[laughter]
But I guess we could wrap it up. Like, if you could make a lasting impact in one way, what would it be?
Honestly, I would just tell people to come here. Or like if I see somebody that I know that is, like, I don't know, like, in high school, if I see someone I know from North, and be like, you need to come to this event. Or like I definitely tell people to, like, do Groups all the time.I stay doing it, but I mean, that's the only thing I could really do.
I guess I would just really want to tell people, like you can do it. And show them that, like, if I'm here and then just from the background that I came from, like my- No one in my family went to college. And just tell them, like, you can do it, regardless of what people tell you. Look for resources, like be aware, and like really just like believe in yourself, 'cause it's like, one of my favorite sayings is like, "It's not about how hard you get hit." It's like, yeah, "It's about how you get back up." But like basically it's kind of like what your dad says. Like it doesn't matter where you start. It's where you're ending at that matters, you know. So, I guess that.
I mean, I guess if I could make a lasting impact, I don't know, it can be like a small thing, like it can just be one little thing you say to someone. That could be that extra edge to give them, but it's kind of like, you have to stop worrying about what other people say, because that's what holds you back the most, especially when they're younger, because it's like you're so young right now, you don't know where you're going to end up. You know, if you already count yourself out now, then you're done. You can't keep, like, that mindset of, like, oh, I probably can't do it anyways, like, no, you just, you have to make yourself go do it, you know, like, just keep on keeping on. And you block it out.
It's really true now that, like, when you graduate, from high school, and like now that I'm here, I'm like, so many of like the petty, dramatic things that I worried about, that people said about me in high school, does not matter now. No one even kind of know who I am here, so it's kind of like a fresh start. But it's just like people are so, like, not judgmental here. Like, people take you as who you are. So it's like one thing I would tell people, like, who are like getting ready to go to college or like, are in high school or middle school, like, it doesn't matter what people say about you. Because you're low-key never gonna see half these people again in your life.
I will embarrass myself and be like, I don't even care. I’m never going to see you again.
Exactly.
So like it doesn't matter, like and like, your little phrase that you say. 
It's not where you start, it's where you finish.
Right.
Like there are some people, you know the ones who have the 4.0 GPAs. And like, they like, throw shade on you if yours isn't as high, but it's like, at the end of the day, we're both in the same place. We both got here.
And one thing I think about it is don't compare yourself to anyone ever. Because if that's what you do your whole life, you will never be happy with who you are. You're constantly gonna be like, oh, I'm not pretty enough or smart enough or good enough. I can't do this. Like, this other person, like- No. One thing that I always tell myself: try to be better than the person you were yesterday. Like, don't compare yourself to anyone. Just like, focus on yourself and just keep doing that, like.
Honestly, my ultimate thing. I even got it tattooed on my arm, it meant so much to me, with my dad's name and everything. It's not where you start. It's where you finish. And just gotta tell people that it does not matter. Honestly, start off messing up. Because then, you're gonna figure it out, and it's gonna help you later. It's like, if you never mess up, how are you gonna get better?
And like you learn from the mistakes you make. Like you are definitely gonna mess up. I messed up so much. And like, at that moment, it was so bad, but like, I got through it. It's just like it's a moment thing, like it's not gonna last forever. Like it might seem impossible at that time, but it will get better with, like, time. Just keep like believing and working for it, you know.

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