a breakup letter to stanford university

you are eighteen — give or take a few

shots of espresso and one night stands —

and you are sandwiched in the backseat

of the car with the six suitcases you somehow convinced your mother

to let you pack for college — let’s call it,

being upfront to your roommate that you are

coming with baggage


and you never were one for cliches, but you felt

part of something bigger than yourself,

your parents - called it “becoming an adult”

but you called it staying out past your bedtime dancing

called it holding his hand on the street,

called it safe, and sometimes even

freedom


your peers thought you were endearing

for holding onto the y’alls and fixin to’s   —

the relics from your past that you

somehow managed to fit inside,

along with all of their new advice like:

do not eat with your hands, like

do not speak about things that interest you unless you are in a classroom,

like do not speak out,

like do not


so you believed

that this was the way things were supposed to be:

sitting in lecture and mistaking your pulse for a sign of life

mistaking school as an education


now you are twenty one years old

and your grandparents cannot come to graduation

but they tell you that they are so proud of you

that they came to this country and worked here

for this moment — their dandelion seed somehow blown

across the ocean and blooming into a man,

receiving a degree from an elite university

untying his rope and re-tying it as a bow tie

this is how you disguise a skin with a suit

this is how you make brown beautiful


and you smile, the most marketable skill you have learned at stanford:

for they have not taught you to be fluent in the truth

that you have spent the past four years making caves in library basements,

trying to find more excuses not to drop out

that you have spent more time

running away from this campus then letting it teach you how to forget yourself


my university tells me that I have received a degree with distinction

but they will award the same diploma to the boy next to me: the one with one letter

and six figures away from me,

the one who invited a war criminal to speak at dinner sophomore year and called her

“an inspiration,” the one who just accepted a job offer with a business

that left hundreds of thousands of people starving, but at least hires gay people and liked the format of his resume —

the way that the blank parts are so beautiful like the silence

necessary to graduate from a university where we are assigned so much reading that

we forget how to speak, forget how to feel, graduate from a university

where we forget how to poor, forget how to brown, forget how to human


i received an email that our class has

selected mayor bloomberg to be our keynote speaker —

the man who encourages the police to stop and frisk our

brothers in new york and hide them in cages disguised as justice:

who needs papers when our bodies are already the evidence?

the man who tells the press that there are no homeless people in new york because he drowned them all in Sandy or paid them minimum wage to shine his shoes,

dick, and ego all at the same time (let’s call it, efficiency)


It makes so much sense:

the way this university has taught us that our hearts are only

useful if we can sell each beat for a profit:

STOPS its public service with the Haas Center

and FRISKS the activists for more results

STOPS its  education at the demonstrations

and FRISKS the keynotes for tips on how to steal the world


they tell me that i am surrounded by our future leaders

who will clap so hard when bloomberg finishes his speech

because maybe if they are loud enough

they will not hear the growing pains of

our dreams becoming dictators

beliefs becoming bloombergs


So at the ceremony when you see me crying I will pretend that you understand.

So when you post photos from your new office view, your five star restaurants, I will pretend that you understand why I am not there

And when you refuse to see me

And when you refuse to see us

Like Bloomberg and Condoleeza, and all the other bullies you

wanted to become in middle school

Like Hennessey, and Blair, and all the other white men who

designed your curriculum — I mean this empire — and disguised it as an education


We will be outside burning our degrees to keep warm,

But, we, we will finally be happy

Without you.