The other black girl

The other black girl

ALIA BYRD

Contributing Writer

ajbyrd@goshen.edu

Hey, Goshen College…so, I know this might be a bit awkward or uncomfortable, but I am here to tell you that my name is NOT Lydia Beachy and Lydia’s name is NOT Alia Byrd.

Confusing, I know, being that we both have black hair and darker skin, but rest assured that we are different people, as are all of the black students on our wonderfully diverse campus. While we know it can be confusing, we are here to help with a few ways to tell us apart. Simple things, really.

First off, we have different majors. Which means we are in different classes. So no, I’m not the girl who sits next to you in Social Work 101, but I may be the girl next to you in Education 300.

Secondly, we have different hair. Lydia rocks that big afro, with tight, kinky curls that seem to defy gravity. I on the other hand have loose(r) curls, cut in a bob, that are soft and feel like a pillow (but no, that does not give you permission to touch our hair).

Another quick way to tell us apart is our polar opposite personalities. While Lydia tends to be more reserved, quiet, and always reading or watching Netflix, I tend to be in the spotlight, speaking at events, singing and dancing at Kickoff or BSU parties, and always talking.

Speaking of talking, the way we talk is also a major key of telling the difference between us. She speaks softly, has a bit of a Virginian accent, and sometimes has a lisp if you are really focusing. I speak loudly with a harsher voice. I have that great Midwestern/Southern accent, thanks to my Southern mother moving to the-middle-of-nowhere Indiana, and probably enunciate letters in words that most don’t (ask anyone in my Intro to Linguistics class).

Also, while I am working at CCYC on campus, building sand castles and trying to find hiding spots in an open area with four-year-olds, Lydia is tucked away in the library, helping college students revise papers, brainstorm, and find a synonym for the word “resonates.”

Probably though, the best way to tell us apart is to look at us. We do not look the same. At all. Eyes, nose, lips, face shape, body shape, hair, walking pattern, all of it–not the same. Even if our skin is the thing throwing you off, know that Lydia is a bit darker than me.

Honestly, the best way to avoid this awkward encounter is just to ask us what our names are if you really are confused. I would rather have to let you know that my name is Alia because you asked than say something because you said another person’s name.

The great thing about these tricks is that they apply to all students. So if you are constantly getting someone’s name wrong because you are confusing them with someone else, just hit up the list.

While this is in no way written to insult or offend anyone who may have gotten us confused, I really do hope that people can take this and stop and think before calling us the wrong name. We aren’t the only ones on campus that this happens to.

We understand that we spend a lot of time together, and as the new-ish people on campus, you may get it confused sometimes, but if we are expected to know the difference between every Miller and Yoder on campus, you can at least know the difference between two of us.

So, here’s to you. Best wishes as you internalize this list, and go out and talk to one of us.

*Shout-out to Lydia Beachy for sharing her struggles with me, and to Amy Castillo for always being my writing inspiration.*

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