As a child in an overwhelmingly white school, MaKayla James’s classmates would call her “Medusa,” when she wore her self-described “big and poofy” hair in braids.
When she put her hair into a ponytail, kids would “take turns swatting at my hair because it looked like a baseball,” says James, who proudly sported braids while sharing her story during a Northeastern University panel Tuesday night.
“I have learned to be confident in what are not my differences but just my characteristics, and I’m still in the process of learning to love them,” she said. “A large part of racial literacy is unlearning racial ideals and replacing those thoughts.”’The discussion was part of an ongoing Northeastern University series focused on racial literacy. James was one of three students who shared deeply personal tales about racism’s impact on their lives. The series, sponsored by President Joseph E. Aoun’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, examines the role of racism in history, culture, and the law. Uta Poiger, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and James Hackney, dean of the School of Law, chair the council.