They Don't Have to Call Us Dumb

Alma Mater U of I not dumb
My high school guidance counselor didn’t call me dumb. He didn’t have to. Without looking at my grades, the number of AP classes I was taking or the pile of geeky journalism things I was involved in – the school newspaper, the radio station, the speech team – he told me dismissively that I’d “never get into U of I.”
 
As in, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where my brother was already studying engineering. Instead, he told me with a touch of pity, I should apply to other state schools I had a better chance of attending.
 
The college professor who told me I’d “never be a reporter” didn’t call me dumb, either. He didn’t have to. 
 
When I ran into him at a journalism conference several years after graduation, he didn’t initially remember me. But during a session later in the day, he did, long enough to caution me, without knowing anything about my years of experience at the time, that if I didn’t do something soon, I’d “never be a reporter.” 
 
The editor who also said I’d “never get off the copy desk” didn’t call me dumb. He didn’t have to. He just laughed off my ambition to be a reporter, holding up reporting as reserved for only a special few that I couldn’t possibly be one of. 
 
 
And when we achieve what they have deemed the unachievable for us – graduating from U of I, becoming a reporter for The Associated Press, running our own media companies – we don’t call them racist to their faces. We don’t have to. 
 
Photo of the Alma Mater by IllinoisLibrary.
 
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Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's always wanted to start when he called her “Rebellious” for taking too many weekends off. When she isn't instigating a media Rebellion, she's thanking her lucky starlets she gets to do whatever she wants on weekends.