Archive for the ‘Martell’ Category

Making The Grade PT. V: Orientation pt. I

In Imani, Making the Grade, Martell on April 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

On the first full day of orientation Martell and Tehan are eating a quick breakfast before they head out to their first session of the day.  Martell sits with a bowl of Lucky Charms on his right and a fully loaded omelet on his left and Tehan sits across from him eating an omelet and waffles. Midway through the fast paced race to finish their food, Martell breaks the cycle of silence and eating to clear to clear his mind

 “Nigga. you may think I’m tweaking but….” he stops

“What’s good my Nigga” he says now intrigued by interruption.

“Man, I’m not sure” he continues to hesitate in his delivery “I think Brenton got it cracking with Troy last night.”

“Bullshit!” Tehan quickly retorts with his mouth muffled with waffle

“Naw no bullshit bro. Let me tell you nigga, when I got back to the room after walking back. When I got to the door I hear fuckin’ sounds.” He checks his volume and looks around then begins to whisper. “So I was like ‘ahh shit, Troy getting it crackin’”

“So where does Brenton come in all this!?

“Nigga let me finish. So, I sat outside the door for a minute and almost fell asleep but then I thought I heard the RA coming so I had to dip in the room. So I thought ‘fuck it,’ I hurried up and went into the room and jumped on my bed. I didn’t want him to think I was on some cock blockin’ shit and they stopped moving but he didn’t say shit and I ended up passed out soon as I hit the bed anyway. But I think I heard them talking in the bed and it sounded like him.

“So how did you know it was him?” Tehan inquires anxiously waiting,

“When he left out in the morning I saw a black body walking outta the door.”

“Maan, nigga you sure it was him? You sure it wasn’t Nicole, you know she like lil’ White boys” he jests. Because whole-time that don’t sound like something B would do, because he usually real low key with his. So it’s kinda hard for me to see that.

“I told you, you would think that I’m tweakin’.” he replies “I just wanted to throw that out there though.

Tehan looks at his watch, “it’s about that time” we grabbed our stuff and rushed out onto the Quad. It’s hot and humid outside with the sun beaming right above them as they enter the Quad and encounter rest of their fellow classmates who have been separated into various groups.  There are clusters of students surrounding group leaders whom are standing in the middle holding their wrists in the air color coding the students by their wristbands. Both Tehan and Martell look down at their wristbands,

“It looks like I’m over here my dude,” Tehan says,

“Aiight” say as they shake up and go separate ways.

Martell’s heads to the middle of the Quad where there are about 15 people already standing  as he and a caramel skinned girl make their way on a diagonal towards the circle. The group leader is a stocky Asian student named Ken. This is a big ass Asian. Martell thought. Ken begins formal introductions after getting everyone’s name and checking them off his Ipad. Looking around the circle Martell notices the girl whom he met when he first moved in is standing in the group. They acknowledge each other and he walks to her.

                “Hey what’s up, Megan right?”

She smiles, “Yea and your Martell right?” Her voice is is calm yet inviting “I want to apologize again for my dad, he was kinda rude.”

“It was no biggie. I’m kinda used to stuff like that from High School. Side note you look kinda familiar. What school did you go to?”

“I went to New Castle out in Winnetka,”

“Oooh that’s, where I know you from, did you do the exchange program last year or the year before. Where all the black kids go to your school and y’all come to ours?”

She giggles, “yeah that was me. I realized it was you afterwards, I didn’t see you at the Presidents reception, I wanted to catch up with you then. So how have you been?

They continue to talk throughout the session, sliding jokes back and forth pairing up when ever possible for introductions. icebreakers and other activities. To many of the others in the groups the they seem to have been friends  for months rather than minutes.

Meanwhile, about twenty yards away Imani’s group leader stands about 5’5 with red hair, hazel eyes and freckles. Her demeanor is ecstatic and full of energy as she addresses the eager freshmen

“Hey, guys and girls, my name is Rachel and I will be your group leader for the week. We will start off with a quick ice-breaker then go into a breakdown of what you can expect for the week and the rest of the day. I want a chur name, where you are from, what you plan on studying, and one interesting fact about ya self. I’m gonna start. As I said my name is Rachel, I’m a sophomore here from Canton, Ohio. I am an Education and Psychology double major and one interesting thing about meh is that I have gone sky diving ever summer since my freshmen year of high school. Ok and now you” she says at the student on her right a slim medium height kid named Bradley from Boston who has the same scholarship as the rest of the group for Chicago.

It comes to Imani’s turn, “Hi my name is Imani. I’m from Chicago, I want to do a Pre-Med major, and one interesting fact about me is that I consider myself a nerd.” As she finishes Nicole whispers,

“I thought you were gonna say that you consider yourself an Amazon.”

“You hobbit.” she whispers back.

“Nice one, your getting better at this.” replies Nicole

Nicole and Imani continue their conversation as people introduce themselves, there are  three girls with some variation of Kate and Sarah. Then a distinct voice catches their attention, it is a deep, full, native accent, either African or Caribbean.

“My name is Pierre, I hail from Kiingstun, Jamaica, I am also Pre-Med” he says acknowledging Imani with a smile “and one interesting ting, about me is that I am also fluent in french.”

His physical presence is just as exceptional as his verbal. He stands a solid 6’, equipped a solid muscular fame and royal complexion. A complexion richer than Tehan’s where you can tell that Pierre has spent significant amount of time in the sun. Another two people introduce themselves then they break into smaller groups and begin to play other introductory games.

“Ok guys!” Rachel stands in the center and gathers their attention, “Now who can name all the buildings on campus?” No students raise their hands, “Well this will be a great introduction or refresher for everyone.” She starts them on their tour as all of the other groups begin to spread to various parts of the campus, on the center quad and other areas.

While walking the micro-groups begin to form amongst the students based on the people they were standing next to and had the opportunity to talk to during the activities. Imani and Pierre stand like exotic giants amongst their fellow classmates. One the Kates is standing shoulder high next to Imani, she has dirty blond hair that hits the middle of her back, and her wide dark brown eyes are fixed on Imani’s hair which is pulled back into a large butter colored Afro.

She reaches her hand up like a child reaching for a toy at the mall, “Oh-My- Gosh, I just love your hair,” her hand touches the base of her hair and grabs a curl.

Imani does not hesitate in her response “ooh,why thank you, Katlin right?”

“No, it’s Kate. I love your hair, it’s so pretty.”

“Oh well thank you” she comments placing her hair back into place. “so, I heard you say that your from Minnesota, right?”

“Yep, St. Paul Minnesoda,” Kate has an accent that emphasizes a D instead of T.

They continue to talk as they walk in and out of the buildings describing the departments and resources available. Eventually, Nicole and Imani return to each other.

“Girl, I saw that lil’ white girl grab your hair and you didn’t even punch her in the face, you a good one for that. You know I don’t play with my hair. And it’s hot out here.”

Imani is amused, “You know I’m so used to it from back home that I don’t even get bothered by it any more. And you need to stop being so violent. Ain’t your roommate White?”


“Well I’m pretty sure she is going to be asking you about all those pink lotion bottles and gel in your room and you better not kill her either.” They continue to humor themselves while the tour continues.


Making The Grade Pt.4: Martell’s Roommate

In Making the Grade, Martell on March 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Martell returns to his dorm, and as he makes it up to his floor, he hears the song “Niggas In Paris” by Kanye & Jay-z being blasted throughout the halls. No one else is on the floor as most of the parents and students have made their way to the Quad for the opening reception. Martell realizes that the music is coming from his room as he moves down the hallway.

“What the hell?!?” Martell thinks to himself as he walks in to the already opened door and gets a full glimpse of the room.

His roommate turns around with a welcoming smile on his face. “Hey, you must be Martell… I’m Troy.”

Troy is tall, lean, with blue eyes, blond hair and a Justin Bieber like cut. He’s wearing fitted Khaki’s, not skinny, but tight enough, a pastel pink Lacrosse polo, and some loafers. He has both ears pierced, with a bar through his left ear, a small barely noticeable tattoo on his upper left arm, and an index and pinky ring on his right hand.

“Damn he looks White White. That good old suburban White.”

“What’s good Troy” Martell says as he takes a look around the room seeing a mix of Glee, Beyonce, and MMA posters, and a variety of home pictures including everything from football to prom. Martell is initially confused by the Glee and Beyoncé posters, but quickly makes sense of them.

“Well I guess even white boys like Glee and every man love them some Beyonce.”

“I see you got yourself all settled in,” he says checking to see if any of his things had been moved around. Everything was still in its place..

“Yeah, I skipped the opening reception and took that time to get myself settled in.”

“Fa Sho. Well I’m about to change clothes real quick and head down to the President’s reception. You wanna roll?”

The song has now changed to LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know it. Martell quickly grabs some clothes from the drawer and begins to change. “So where you say you where from again?”

“From Boston and you?”

“Chicago,” he says as he changes shirts. “Cool cool, so how did you end up here?”

“Here for the graphic design and theater program. Even though there are better schools for me, I just really like the campus and atmosphere when I came to visit. So how did you end up here?

“I got a leadership, slash merit scholarship through a program in Chicago. Actually there is like seven of us here from the Chi.”

“Oh that’s neat. That’s cool that you all came to the same school together.”

“We got selected for this school and that was the only way to get the scholarship.” Checking himself out in the mirror, Martell takes some cologne and sprays himself a couple of times. As the smell settles Troy takes notice.

“That smells good.”

“Appreciate it, gotta get lightweight fly for the little reception. You ready to ride out?”

“Yea” They both walk out of the room. Troy does not lock the door and Martell takes notice.

“Aren’t you gonna lock the door?” he inquires.

“No, what for, there is no one here.”

“I always lock my doors. People steal, plus it’s a habit.”

“Feel free.” Troy steps of out the way to let Martell lock the door. Out of the dorm and on the campus, they begin to exchange casual conversation.

“Yo, I like that Tupac poster in the room. Its mad cool,” Troy says.

“Oh, I appreciate it. You rocks’ with ‘Pac?”

“What?” he says confused.

Martell laughs. “So you like Tupac?”

“Yeah, I had a really cool teacher that used to let us listen to him in our English class; him and Biggie. That’s when I started listening to rap music a lot on my own.”

“That’s whats up. Who you listen to now?”

“I like Drake, Wayne, Mac Miller, Immortal Technique, Pharaoh Monch.”

“Who!?” Martell quickly interjects turning his face up slightly. “Never heard of the last two. Are they new or underground?”

“What? You never, heard of Immortal Technique? Dude they’re dope, you should check them out, they have been out for a while but more so underground.”

At to President’s reception there are students in varied attire from casual to sweats, with a mix of freshmen and upperclassmen group leaders in the room. The faculty is mostly white but there are enough multicultural faculty members to where the minority students feel comfortable. They walk in and Martell begins to search for Tehan, Imani and the rest. After scanning around the room for a minute he finally sees all of them huddled up together slightly secluded from the rest of the room.

“Yo, Imma introduce you to the rest of the people here from the Chi with me.” He enters the circle of friends. “Hey peoples, this is my roommate Troy.” He begins to go around the circle doing formal introductions. “This is my Bro Tehan, that’s Imani, Brenton, Nicole, and Diamond. Oh and that’s Shayla, she’s from the East Coast too.” Everyone one speaks and Troy takes notice of the bracelets and other jewelry that Imani is wearing.

“Oh, girl I like those bracelets that you have on. Where’s did you get them from?” Martell and Tehan quickly give each other a side eye. Martell shakes his head and Tehan smiles.

Martell thinks to himself  “Ahhh damn, this nigga gay.” He acknowledges that Tehan’s smile is an inside laughter at him.

“Oh I got these from a variety of different places,” Imani replies beginning to sort through them. “I think I got this from forever 21, the earrings were a bday gift from Tiffany’s, my brother bought me the ring, and my mother the necklace.”

“Ok Ok, I like. You have a real classic style about yourself.”

Imani blushes slightly. “Why thank you.”

Looking at the line of buffet food in front of them Martell asks, “Have you all eaten yet?”

“No we haven’t,” Imani says “the line just opened up a few minutes ago and we were waiting for the line to go down.”

“Well I’m about to hop over there and slam sumthin’ real quick.”

“Me too bro,” Tehan adds as the two walk over about twenty feet to the table away from the group as everyone continues to talk. Tehan has a smirk on his face and Martell is avoiding eye contact. “Aye Tell” Tehan calls. Yet Martell is still not making eye contact.

“I don’t wanna hear it bro.”

“You don’t even know what I’m about to say.”

“Yes I do.”

“No ya don’t…You think I would mention the fact that your roommate is a lil’ sweet in the middle?” Tehan is holding his laughter in, however, with every increasing moment slowly seeped out.

“I don’t think he gay, but if he was, we have learned to accept Brenton and he’s gay.”

“But I could can’t deal with his flamboyantness,” Martell replies.

“He not even flamboyant. You tweekin’ right now.  But regardless, if it becomes a problem, which I think it shouldn’t be, then you handle it. Other than that white homie cool.”

“True, he cool peoples. Plus we had a nice lil’ convo on our way over here.”

They grab their food find a seat waiting for the rest of the group to come sit with them. The remainder of the group  make their way over to the circular table and continue their conversation. They talked and exchange stories about the road trips, growing up, first impressions, and other informal introductory topics. They all decide to head back to Imani’s room, since she is the only one with her own room, to have a couple of drinks and play a couple of games. Back at the room, it’s now nine people in the room including Shayla’s, Brenton’s and Diamond’s roommates, with a bottle of vodka and a couple of bottles of Moscato. About two hours have passed before Martell stands up breaking up the laughter and trying to calm people down.

“Yo let’s play Never have I ever.

“What’s that?” Diamond asks.

“It’s that game that Tell had us playing at the retreat we did during the summer,” Imani responds. “Martell just tryna be nasty as usual and be all up in people business when he play this. Because his favorite question is-”

“Never have I ever sucked a Dick!” Martell, jumps in and shouts at the top of his lungs with a sort of drunken happiness. “And never will I ever either.”

“Nah, not for me,” Imani says. “I’m tired plus we gotta be up early tomorrow for all those activities. I heard they keep us all day with no break.”

“Same here,” Diamond adds. “I’m about to call it a night too bro, but next time for sure,” she says getting up and finishing out her drink, walking over to Imani.

“Aww you too Diamond,” Martell says defeated. “Well fux it I’m out too.” He hugs Imani and kisses her on the cheek. “Roomie you headed out to?”

“Nah, I’m cool,” he says stopping his conversation with Shayla, Brenton and their roommates.

“Aight, I’m about to roll with Tehan and walk Diamond back to her room.” They say their good byes and walk out of the door. “Man, I really don’t think he’s gay,” he says turning to Tehan.

“Gay?” Diamond says confused. “He’s not gay, he’s just sweet. If that cute lil’ white boy gay, I’ll be upset.”

“Why?” Tehan asks “You like the white meat?” he teases.

“Shidd, I don’t discriminate, especially since most of you Negros can’t get y’all act together.”

“Aye! I got my shit together!” Martell challenges.

“Tell, when the last time you had a girlfriend?”

“Ahh, well you know TECH-ni-cally, I’ve never had a girlfriend”

“Why not?”

“Because, these hoes ain’t on shit, plus I know I ain’t shit….YET. I got my head on straight, just don’t want a girlfriend yet.” He says looking at Diamond  as she shakes her head at him.

“I feel you bro, but you a mess for real.”

“Even if he was gay, he seems like a cool dude, don’t think you would have any problems.” Tehan says.

“Yeah I don’t think so either.”

They walk across campus and drop Diamond and her roommate off at their room then Martell begins to make his way back across campus to his room. He is still a little tipsy but has sobered up a little during the walk across campus. He makes his way up stairs and gets to his door. He pauses as he hears the sounds of moaning. He sticks his ear to the door.

“What the hell” he calms his breath and tries to listen closer. “Damn the roomie got some ass before I did. Ain’t this a bitch…Oh well. But damn he could’ve at least texted me not come back so I could have stayed at Tehan or somebody room, but fuck it, I ain’t walking all the way back over there.” He slides down to the floor and begins to nod off. After about fifteen minutes of discomfort he decides to go to his bed. “Man, I’m gonna walk in this bitch like I ain’t hear shit, shorty might be mad, but I’m tired. They’ll get over it. He shoulda text me and let me know what the bidness was.”

Martell gathers his courage, pauses for a second preparing himself for whatever repercussions that may come along with opening the door. He pushes it open. The light from the hallway partially illuminates the roommate the point where, based on their position, backs and sides are visible. He quickly closes the door and jumps to his bed. The movement on Troy’s bed on the opposite side of the room ceases. There is whispering under the covers.

“Did he see me?” a voice whispers.

“Naw, if he did, I think he woulda said something,” Troy whispers back

“I think I should go.”

“If you do then he really gonna see you. Just stay here till early morning and leave before he gets up.”

“You sure?” the voice whispers back.

“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I will make sure he sleep before you leave.”


Martell had fallen asleep as soon as he hit the sheets with little concern about the person in the bed, but had only heard faint parts of the conversation, never being able to make out a voice. However, in the early hours of the morning, when the figure was sneaking out of the room, he did catch a peek as the door opened, the light beaming in.

With the light in his eyes and the door closing he utters “Brenton?”



Making The Grade Pt.3: All Campus Meeting

In Imani, Making the Grade, Martell on March 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm


Tehan and Martell step onto the beautiful landscaped academic quad that stretches the length of four football fields. All of the academic buildings encase the land. Not to the point where one feels intimidated or a sense of claustrophobia, but more so as a form of convenience as none of the buildings are more than 5 minutes in walking distance away of one another. The campus resembles something from Ancient Greece. All of the buildings are three to four stories in height, leading down a pathway to two central locations on opposite ends; on one end you have a library the size of most elementary schools, built in the shape of a temple for a Greek God or the Lincoln Memorial in D.C, a place where one would expect to see a massive figure inside. And on the opposite end you have a mansion.

A white mansion straight out of the 1830s, it’s three stories high with four circular pillars out front and a balcony that allows one to survey the entire quad and majority of the campus from the top. It doesn’t belong. It’s a sharp contrast to the rest of the newly built or renovated buildings in the vicinity. However, it is a reminder of the history and heritage of the University. A history that is deep seeded in the abolitionist movement, the Underground Railroad, and the women’s suffrage movement.  As one continues to survey the campus you see an assortment of exotic flowers in full bloom and various statues and monuments sprinkled across the land. It is a calm 80 degrees, with the sun shining bright; Martell and Tehan have now reached the center of the quad.

Taking a moment to embrace the scenery, Martell sticks his nose in the air and takes a deep breath, “You smell that?” He says to Tehan. Tehan takes a moment to smell, thinks about it for a second,  then replies,

“Naw, I don’t smell anything.”

With a sense of enthusiasm Martell continues, “The air smells different. Like that country fresh air, it even feels different.” He then begins to simulate biting motions in the air. Exaggerating his mouth, “‘taste…taste the air.’”

Tehan shakes his head at him, “You look like Dae Dae,”  then pauses for a second.  “Yeah I guess you can say that.”

Surveying the quad, Martell is in awe of what he sees: the hustle and bustle of the crowd, students and families moving in and out of buildings, asking for directions, and buying books and supplies. Taking notice of the student demographic Martell comments:

“Man, it looks like the United Nations around here, there’s some of everything.”

“Well they said they are all about diversity, I guess this is what it looks like. But this most def different from tha crib. Back in the Chi, you don’t see this many people together unless it’s the Taste or one of those North side or Magnet schools and those are still mostly White or Asian.” He says as they walk past a group of Chinese students speaking Mandarin.

Although Tehan won’t admit it, he is in somewhat of a culture shock. Unlike Martell, he did not have many social or academic interactions with groups outside of Black people in high school, besides a few White teachers.

From the opposite side of the Quad Imani and La Shayla enter the student filled quad with a similar reaction.

“This campus is beautiful.” La Shayla says in marvel at combination of students and environment. “I’m thinking that I made the right choice.”

“You didn’t see the school before you decided to come here?” Imani inquires.

“Yeah I did, once in the fall for diversity weekend so it didn’t look nothing like this. I really didn’t even think I was gonna get in it, so when I did, I just took it and ran with it. I heard a bunch of great things about the school so I wasn’t too concerned. But now I’m tryna figure out where did all these White people come from.” Her speech has various moments of a east coast accent.

“What do you mean? It’s a White school.”

“See, I knew the upperclassmen were right. They said that the school bring all the Black people on campus together at the same time so it look like there’s a lot of Blacks and Latinos that go here.” She says with a sense of sarcasm “trickery.”

“Oooh, see I’ve been knew that before I got here because my mom went here, so I would come up here for her reunions and stuff like that. It used to be a lot worst, there were no black people here when I came up for a visit my junior year. ”

La Shayla “Oh ok. I feel you on that. So question.”

Imani replies in kind, “Answer.”

She askes with reservation “Hmmm… what are you exactly…If you don’t mind me asking.”

Imani blushes and chuckles a little, “Girl it’s cool and a lot of people ask me all the time because no one can tell. I’m Italian and Jamaican.”

“Oh cool, which parent is which?”

“My mom is Italian.”.

From their respective areas on the quad Martell, Tehan, Imani, and La Shayla see the front of the Student Union: a recently erected 4 story environmentally friendly building. The union contains everything from a bowling alley to a 1500 person theatre and a food court. All of these services for a campus with less than 3500 students. It has no solid concrete walls; its four walls are made of glass and metal, giving it a futuristic look. There are rows of chairs and a podium outside the Union, and a number of individuals wearing various colored shirts passing out wristbands and ushering students to seats.

The individuals are upperclassmen group leaders helping out with orientation who are just as diverse in race, shape, size and gender as the freshmen students on the Quad. An upperclassman student walks up to the boys as they stroll across the yard. He’s about 5’8 with a solid upper body frame like a wrestler, a short cut fade, and a baby face to compliment his lack of facial hair and chocolate complexion, a shade or two off of Tehan. He makes eye contact with them with the traditional nodding of the head…

“Whats going on, fellas?” He says, shaking their hands with a light embrace, his voice confident and inviting.  “Welcome to E.D.U, my name is Justin, I’m one of the group leaders for your orientation.”

“What’s good bro, I’m Tehan, nice to meet you,” he says and Martell responds in kind.

He pulls out an Ipad, scrolls through and taps their names, then provides them both red wristbands, “These are your wristbands to identify the groups that you will be grouped with for the next three days for orientation and also these will your entrance into your freshmen party, they call it the Sizzler.”

“Party!?” Martell and Tehan excitedly say in unison.

He laughs a little.  “Yeah, a party to culminate your freshman orientation, but you’ll have to go to all of the events first before you can go. So where are you young brothers from?”

“Da Chi” again they say together. Then differentiating between them “West-side.” “South-side.”

“Ok cool,” Justin says “There are a couple of people here from the Chi, do you all have the Uplift Scholarship?” They nod in agreement.  “Well then you all should have a good time here. I’m from Cincinnati and I’m a junior here. Well, you guys can have a seat, the University president is about to address your class.

As they begin to take their seats, the MC, a short, young Hispanic woman with a minor accent, calls the students to order “Students please take your seats.” As the students begin to settle down, she continues her introduction of the president who is yet unidentified. There are a number of faculty members on stage, a strong representation of the students they serve. “I would like to introduce to you the President of this University, Mrs. Maxine Cherry.” There is a warm round of applause.

“Damn we got a Black President” Martell says to Tehan.

“I see,” he adds, in somewhat disbelief.

Martell begins to rap a popular Young Jeezy song from President Obama’s first election,

“‘My President is Black, My Lambo’s Blue…’”  He stops, but is very excited about the moment.

Tehan analyzes her, “She look young, too, she got that Michelle Obama swag.”

On another end of the audience, Imani and LaShayla are seated having a similar conversation about their university president.

LaShayla leans over and whispers to Imani “Did you know that the University President is Black Women?”

President Cherry is a tall, lean, yet curvaceous, brown skinned woman. She has her hair in kinky twists that are pulled straight back into a ponytail. She is very fashionable and professional in her dress, wearing a dark blue linen pant suit, with 3 inch white heels, that is suitable for the weather and the occasion. Her voice is warm and inviting as she begins her speech.

“Welcome class of 2016” she starts “I am very pleased to stand in front of you today as it is recorded that this class is the most racially, ethnically, geographically and socio-economically diverse class that this University has ever had the opportunity to host. And for that we thank you. We thank you for the opportunity to foster and develop the minds and talents of the future movers and shakers of the world: the world’s future philanthropist, doctors, researchers, musicians, painters, philosophers, dancers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and most importantly fathers and mothers that I now stand before.”

“At this current stage in not only American history but, world history, we are coming to a place where the pursuit of higher education is not a luxury, but a necessity. A necessity that will present you access to a world of infinite possibilities and questions. Questions that you may not know the answer to but, you will be equipped with the appropriate skills and know-how to find the answers. As students here, I challenge you to be inquisitive of not only your professors, but your fellow classmates and most of all, of yourselves. To stretch your imaginations, to step outside of your comfort zones, and embrace the uncomfortable so that in your near futures, when you leave this hill, the uncomfortable will not cause you to stop or hesitate but, run at full speed and attack. You may not know it yet, but this is the moment that you all have been waiting for, so I want you to heed the words of Mahatma Gandhi ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’ Thank you.” She takes a step back from the podium and the crowd of students and facility erupts with applause.

The students leave feeling energized and ready for the school year.

Martell and Tehan get up from their seats in awe “damn” Martell comments, “I feel all inspired”

“Yeah she got that heat, that move the crowd type speaking presence. I fux with her.”

They search around looking for other members of their scholarship cohort. They see Imani, a cute lighter skinned girl with dark curly hair talking to another girl they didn’t know. Martell points it out and they begin to make their way over to them.

“Hey sis” Tehan says he hugs her; their skin contrast is similar to the one between her and her father.

“Hey Bros” she turns to she turns to the young lady standing next to her “this is La Shayla, she lives in my in my building”

“Just call me Shay” she says, La Shayla has a 90s home girl swag about her, she’s wearing a fresh pair of Jordan Concords, some big bamboo earrings, kapri’s, a tank top, and a Yankees Snapback. She greets them both.

“Where you from Shay?” Tehan asks

With an exaggeration on her accent she says, “Brooklyn.”

“Damn” Tehan and Martell say together,

“You said that like you were Lil’ Kim in ‘94, I can dig it.”

Imani jumps back in “What have you two been up to so far? Ya’ll all move in?”

Martell comments “Just came from my room straight over here”

“You met your roommate yet?”

“Naw I haven’t.”

La Shayla adds the conversation “Well, are you two going to the President’s reception later?”

“What time that joint start?” Tehan asks

“In about 30mins, in the Union” La Shayla says

“Yeah, Imma roll through, what about you Martell?”

“For sho, I just gotta run and change real quick,” as he looks down at himself wearing Jordan sandals, basketball shorts and a white t-shirt. “I’ll meet ya’ll there.”

“Aight my dude” Tehan says as they both do a hand shake that they made up, nothing complicated, but still unique. Imani, does it too. “Aight Sis, see you in a minute. Nice meeting you Shayla” he says as they part ways, the group sticks around the Quad to continue to meet other students.

As Martell returns to his dorm and makes it up to his floor, he hears the song “Niggas In Paris” by Kanye & Jay-z being blasted throughout the halls. No one else is on the floor as most of the parents and students have made their way to the Quad for the opening reception. Martell realizes that the music is coming from his room as he moves down the hallway…


Making The Grade Pt.1 Move In Day (Martell)

In Making the Grade, Martell, Move In on March 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

“Don’t come home with any babies. Don’t come home without a degree. Stay away from them white girls.” The parting words from Martell’s parents as they hugged him goodbye to begin their five hour road trip back to Chicago from Ohio. Those words continued to echo in his mind as he began to unpack his things, reflecting on the road that has brought him to this place.  E.D.U, in the middle of nowhere Ohio,  a small liberal arts school, a drastic change from his earlier dreams of going to an HBCU. The room is not as big as he had anticipated. His room at home was significantly bigger and he didn’t have to share it. This was more like a two person jail cell, just with nicer walls and a mirror. However, he counts his blessings: his scholarship and the friends that it surrounded him with.  Reflecting and unpacking he is sees a text from Tehan, one of he people he befriended as fellow scholarship recipient.

“Where you at Bro?”

“In Shaw 202.”

“Aight, Imma about to slide through.”

At 6’2” with a slim, somewhat skinny frame, most people mistake Martell for a basketball player. In fact, during this past summer many people asked if he was going to school on a basketball scholarship.  Without irritation,  but with pride and sense of arrogance he always replied “Naw…Academic.” He wears a constant smile on his face . He is constantly being compared to Kobe Bryant and Soulja Boy, although those two people have limited physical characteristics in common to him. His rich caramel skin has been untainted by tattoos. And only recently got his ears pierced before coming to school because his mother said he had to be out of her house before he could get them.

Cleaning up his room, he begins to think of all the movies and TV shows about college starring Black people, How High, Stomp the Yard and A Different World dominate his thinking. He begins to wonder if he would have any of all the crazy encounters that he saw on TV: the Frat Parties, Greek Life, the wild and crazy white girls that want to be with a black guy for the first time.  As he fixes his TV, there is a knock at the door.

Tehan, enters the room, “What’s good bruh bruh?” his heavy tone is so distinct that Martell doesn’t even need to turn around to recognize the person.

With a 6’ slender frame that is typical for an athlete, his most dominant features are his chocolate complexion and his full beard which makes most people think he’s closer to 30 than 17. He has medium length locks that he began growing his junior year of high school, and now because of his complexion and facial features he is commonly compared to Wale. Something that irks him to the core.

“Shidd, just trying to finish getting unpacked and organize my room”

“Yo, roommate not here yet?”

“Naw, he said he should be in sometime later in the day, so I’m setting the room up like I want it first then he can just get in where he fit in.” Martell replies with a sense of sarcasm.

“What is he?” Tehan asks as he helps him mount the TV on the wall.

“He sounded like he’s white. His name is Troy from some random ass place in New York.  I don’t remember though. He sounded cool, but we’ll see.”

They began to move the bed around. With the door wide open they see a constant flow of students with their families walking up and down the hallway looking for roommates, carrying huge TVs, futons, and refrigerators.

“Damn people bringing their whole house up here huh?”

“Yeah, I just brought the TV,  he said he would would bring the frig”

“This floor is Coed?”

“Yeah, ain’t yours?

“Nah, the building is, but the floors are separated by sex. No biggie though, I can travel a few flights of stairs for some booty.” They jointly laughed

He puts the last poster on the wall: Tupac’s Only God Can Judge Me, a man who he idolizes,  “Well I’m done for the most part, what does your room look like?”

“It looks bigger than this eight by ten you living in” Tehan jests “you wanna walk around and check out the rest of the dorms?”

Grabbing his keys and locking the door Martell replies, “Yeah let’s roll.”

Walking through the dorm hallway, their 6′ solid builds take up the most of the walk space. Martell with his “Juice” cut and Tehan with his locks, the two of them together presented a unique combination of an intimidating yet, intriguing aura to many of the families and other students in the building. For many of the white students who  have had limited or no personal encounters with African Americans and who  can only pull from the media stereotypes for their perceptions of Black men, Martell and Tehan fit many some of those.

Recognizing the additional attention that they are receiving, Martell breaks the awkwardness,  “All Eyes on Me” he says in his best Tupac impersonation. “They act like they never seen Black people before”

In a returning low volume, “that’s because they haven’t, we like a national geographic to them. Don’t sweat it though.”  He says as they continue to walk down the hallway, Tehan makes a realization “Aye Jo,  are you the only Black person on this floor?”

“Hmm…” Martell responds as he stops and looks around. “I think I am. Wait. No I’m not. There is a Puerto Rican cat that’s down the hall.”

“I said black.”

“Shit, that’s close enough.”

“True” Tehan agrees as the two hit the stairway, a man carrying a refrigerator  is struggling up the stairs thus causing his face to turn red and his forehead  sweat right below his pepper colored hair. The man looks as if he’s about to tip forward when Tehana and Martell both jump to his aid.

“We got you” they say in unison

The man is immediately relieved by the assistance.  He says “thank you,” with a grunt as he works to gather himself. With the refrigerator blocking his view of the boys, they made their up the rest of the stairs.

“Room 203 if y’all can.”

“Oh that’s right across the hall from me.” Martell replies

“That’s nice, where are you guys from?”

“Chicago” their thunderous voices combined replied.

“Oh, what part? Oak Brook? Evanston? Skokie?” He inquires as he backs into the rooms with the refrigerator high upon his chest and pressed against his face he yells into the room. “Hey hun, these young men are both from Chicago and one lives across a cross hall from you,” his final words before he sits down the refrigerator and sees the two of them standing before him. He pauses, with a glossed look in his eyes of disbelief. He looks past them both as if looking for someone who wasn’t there. His daughter sees the awkward silence and interjects.

“Thanks for helping my dad with that, it would’ve sucked if he’d dropped it but, he wouldn’t let me help him. Hi my name’s Megan, what’s yours? She extends her hand to them.

“Martell” he says giving her a quick look up and down; he can’t help but crack a smile.

Standing at a petite 5’4 with blond hair, green eyes, and dimples compacted into a  dancer’s shaped body. She resembles a girl seen in most movies or television shows as nice, wholesome and from the small town, or the opposite of the mean girl, cheerleader with the banging body. Her smile was warm and sincere, her skin was smooth and Martell was infatuated with her immediately. Less than 5 seconds has passed and Tehan adds …


She continues, “So my dad mentioned that you both are from Chicago. What part?”

“Southside” Martell replies

“Westside” Tehan says

Before the conversation can continue her father regains his composure and interrupts the conversation.

“Well fellas, your assistance is no longer needed, I’m sure you have to attend practice or something?” They both look in confusion at one another and respond, “practice?”

“Yeah are you boys not both on the basketball team?” the father responds in full confidence as if he was answering a question he wasn’t supposed to know the answer to.

“Actually sir, I never picked up a basketball before in my life.” Tehan says with a straight face.

“Me either.” Martell adds and with the mannerism as he is saying a speech that he has rehearsed and performed many times on cue. He continues “Tehan and myself are both here based on our scholastic achievement, involvement in community service and other leadership capabilities that this institution of higher learning deemed us fit to attend in order to make a significant cultural, academic and social impact. But thanks for the benefit of the doubt, I always wanted to be a hooper.” And in a calm and natural response his eyes turn to Megan “Aye Megan, we’ll catch you at orientation.” They both turn and leave.

“Gosh dad, did you have to be so rude.” she retorts at her father, as he stands there stunned and confused, she rushes to the hallway to catch them. “Hey I’m sorry for my dad, he didn’t mean any harm by what he said, and he has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth a lot.”

“Don’t even trip about it, it’s cool. It’s not the first time that we have had that said to us and it certainly won’t be the last. But we gotta run, we’ll catch you on the Quad.” Says Martell as they turn back down the hall. Martell looks at him with disbelief shaking his head, “I’ve never picked up a basketball before? Nigga we played ball all day yesterday and all last week right before we came to school.”

Tehan laughs a little then stops “well you agreed with me. Did you see the look on his face? It was priceless. Why would I give him the satisfaction of knowing we both played High School ball? Besides that, shorty was bad.”

“Yeah I peeped the lil’ white joint, I see you already on it.”

“Yes sir, but you know it’s only the first day. We ain’t even hit the quad yet, she might not even the baddest on campus.”

“True, but shidd, it’s a good start”. They make their way out of the dorm on to the warm, open, beautiful, student and family filled campus.

%d bloggers like this: