Earlier this week, I met separately with two friends as we discussed our feelings of living in Nashville over cups of tea. Both conversations were heartwarming and challenging in my own responsibility of making my community look good or become better. The problem with doing this is that we might do it at the expense of ourselves. One of my friends said, “How do we stop abandoning ourselves for the sake of the moment?” I could have walked away on that question and never spoke to anyone else for the rest of the day. But I didn’t stop there. I met with another friend and in the midst of her literally preaching to me about ways of making the city more resilient, she discussed staying in her lane to make the city better, “I can leave a pebble at the door to keep it open, but not a big rock.” I got her point. It is her job to do her duty to look out for generations after her, but it is not her job to do all the work for the next generation, that they are crippled from understanding the worth of work. It’s not about doing too little, but being an example so that others know to do as much, if not more, work for generations to come as well.
Both of these women pinpointed much of the tension I feel when not only believing in the community in Nashville, but more specifically, the black community. Whether “Out East,” “Out North,” in Antioch, or wherever black folks reside, I’m always wondering how we make us better. How do I make sure to do my part in contributing into the genius and success of the black community, while at the same time, taking care of myself without continuing to perpetuate trauma? I thought during the time of this knowing that we are geeked for TSU’s homecoming week, how do we show our pride for Big Blue, the North Nashville community, and not feel we are carrying a burden of representing black folks when negative news hits the local papers that takes away our humanity?
In many ways, we want to Swag Surf with friends, sorors, and frat, but not get too ratchet to where we think we set black people back by 20 years. We want to step high when we hear the tubas playing that Aristocratic sound, but not cringe the moment we hear the first gun shot because someone stepped on a brand new pair of shoes. We struggle with making sure to have money for hotel suites, liquor, and a new fit, but might say we are fresh out of funds for giving resources back to our alma mater. I’m not an alum of TSU, but I am definitely proud of the many people who are products of the school. This school cultivated me when I was young when I went to gifted programs that happened on the campus. With all this said, my question is will we be Stewards of the great legacy of Tennessee State University? Can we make sure to pick up litter and throw it in a garbage can during the parade? Can we make sure we don’t let children throw trash in already fragile stormwater drains? Can we be impeccable with our words of TSU and the North Nashville community so much that we are examples of the joy, creativity, and humanity of the area? Can we be okay with the fact that everyone just wants to have a good time at homecoming and we don’t take anything personal or make assumptions in realizing no one should want to go to any homecoming events with the intent of ruining a great experience? Can we be our best selves and show why many are so glad they went to TSU? The point behind all of these questions are to recreate habits of neighborhood and HBCU pride for others to know that they should always come to homecoming leaving the area better than it was when they arrived.
I had many conversations with neighbors in the North Nashville area who said they never went to the colleges in the area, but felt like they did because of the relationship the school, students, and alumni had in and with the community. That sounds like a resilient, self-sustaining community to me. I believe we can continue the tradition of having a mentality of the village wrapping its arms around every person who comes to celebrate the history and presence of TSU and each person doing the same. Let’s keep our community clean and strong like the love we have for the university. Let’s have a good time and not look for a reason to destroy or harm ourselves, our people, or our community. Tennessee State University, thank you for your rich history and legacy. Let’s remember the purpose of this institution for the remainder of the week and have a good time. Let’s be good Keepers of the TSU Community through our words, actions, and examples to uplift the following generations for Tennessee State. Go Tigers!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Nashville Voice.