From the AnthologyBlack Women Coping in Cleveland
by Kim TheBwordpoet
I was teased in high school for my looks and my lack of intelligence. I didn't seem to understand things the way others did. I didn't like the same things others around me liked. I read novels and wrote poetry and short stories all the time.
I knew if I ever graduated, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be like Emily Dickinson and spend my life inspiring people with love stories through the power of my pen.
I found college to be challenging—both intellectually and emotionally. I feared maybe I wasn't smart enough to achieve my goals. I didn't know who or where to reach out to for help. Everyone had issues in college—I wasn't special. I went to Youngstown State right out of high school. I still regret not going back there the following year. Then I went to Tri-C. I felt better when I transferred to Cleveland State - but I wasn't smart enough to keep up my grades. So it was back to Tri-C. Then 10 years later—with no degree still—I am now back at Cleveland State. I've been stuck at a job I absolutely LOATHE for 20 years now. Without a degree, I can't get out of it. I barely make enough to take care of myself - let alone my beloved cat. Since I don't have a Bachelor's or Master's degree yet, I need at the minimum three years' experience in a different field to be able to escape this life. I could volunteer - but then how would I go to work? I've been homeless before - I'd rather never live through that again.
Sometimes I go to school full time, sometimes part time. It depends what government funds will allow me to do. Bosses have hated me for wanting to pursue writing instead of staying in their field. I still went to classes. Then, the semester I was to FINALLY graduate with a Bachelor's in English Literature. My Federal Aid was taken from me. I graduated high school in 1999. In 2017, I still had no degree. I had been in school too long. I could no longer take out Pell Grants or get Scholarships. They told me I couldn't even take out any more Stafford Loans. How is THAT possible?? But I'm over $50,000 in college debt. So I guess they call the shots.
So here I am: stuck in a job I hate, filled with dreams I can't fulfill, and hand cramps from each year desperately writing college essays to get the money I need to complete my last semester. Never hearing back from places; denied by places I do hear back from. I was really taken in by those ads that told people there was TONS of money floating around for college. That one could get money for being left handed. For being a woman. For being Black. For being LGBT. For having an autoimmune disease. For having a mental disorder. This ALL applies to me. Yet, four years after they denied me, I'm still in the same spot.
I can't help but feel like I was denied financial aid due to being Black. I couldn't get my dreams accomplished in the time span they laid out, so goodbye. I had one more semester. JUST ONE MORE. Why wait till someone is at their LAST semester of college you tell them you refuse to pay for it anymore? Why take me to the top and show me the world then bash the rocks so I fall just as I was about to touch a cloud?
The statistic about Cleveland being the WORST place for Black women? I 1000% believe it.
Kim TheBwordpoet is a poet, short story writer, and journalist from Cleveland, Ohio. She sporadically publishes pieces in Cleveland State University's Vindicator Magazine, and Boston's Bi Women's Newsletter. You can find all her social media links and samples of the rest of her works at http://bwordpoet.wordpress.com.