The essence of feeling and imagination
I was in grade school when I decided that I wanted to be a defense attorney or a writer.
The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly.Oscar Wilde
Throughout the years I excelled in reading, challenged myself in language arts and read the dictionary to expand my vocabulary. I eventually chose my elective courses with my goals in the back of my mind. Each class birthed a new skill or aided in the growth of another.
Those were a few of my defining moments that created who I am today.
My Name Is Star Candelaria And My Background Is All Over The Place. Literally.
I’m from Willingboro, New Jersey. It’s a small-ish township in South Jersey, that’s 30minutes from Philadelphia and an hour away from Atlantic City. Growing up, I had different nicknames: Punkin, Sweet Pea, Sherman in a skirt, fatty-head daddy-head. My favorite great uncle and aunt nicknamed me Star and that’s the one that’s stuck with me forever.
I learned who I was and what I wanted to do with my life while attending Twin Hills Elementary, or at least that’s what I’ve found out. I transferred to Joseph A. McGinley for two years and then to Mildred McGowan for my final year in New Jersey.
In 2003, my mother and I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.
When I woke up in the Uhaul the sight of the area made me nauseous. There were no sidewalks, no schools inside of the neighborhoods, no Arabs, no Turkish folks, no Puertorriquenos and no Brown people. Where were all of my brothers and sisters? Was I ever going to find a playmate? How was I supposed to walk to school if there are no sidewalks? Where was the school?
While I never found the types of people I was accustomed to, I was enrolled in school. J.F. Burns Elementary staff and students welcomed me like I was brand new barbie. It was almost as if I had five arms and spoke seven languages.
In school I was looking for color everywhere! There was not a single person to connect with, without having to befriend a gang of people. However, I did find two good friends from two different cliques, Kristin Balzer and Taylor Hosey.
Finding Myself Through Others
I became friends with almost everyone in some way. Due to this, I was exposed to a variety of backgrounds and mindsets. As diverse as their personalities were, all of my friends were white. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there was always an important disconnect.
It wasn’t until fifth grade, when all of the fourth graders from the three elementary schools merged, that I saw another black student. We didn’t become friends immediately and I was also in a new space with another type of white person.
It was during this time that I was exposed to racism.
I was called a nigger by one of the parents after our D.A.R.E. program graduation ceremony. It happened again in the hallway when one of the South Lebanon trailer kids or as my school referred to them, the poor-poor whites, brushed past me with her clique.
I laughed. Mostly because I wasn’t allowed to throw hands, there’s nothing I feared more than my mom’s wrath.
Still, these instances did not go unchecked. Instead of using my hands, I used my words and in the end I was punished anyway.
It didn’t matter then, because I knew I was in the right. I knew that I shouldn’t sit and allow someone to shit on me. I was a strong, intelligent, quick witted, black and sassy fifth grader. Thanks to them, I never allowed that to slip into the back of my mind.
It was rare that I encountered overt racism because I can be intimidating. However, there were plenty of instances where I had to address racist micro-aggressions, sexism and covert racism. Thankfully I had a powerful voice and the mind to back it up. I also, never gave out any ‘black cards’ or passes…
I subconsciously smacked my best friend before our lacrosse practice when she jokingly stated ‘what’s up my nigga?’. (yes we are still best friends)
When I’d act out of character, forgetting my goals, my mom would remind me that I was either going to college or going to get pregnant. So I pushed myself through high school and made it to the University of Toledo.
In an introductory law & social thought classroom, I smiled because finally did it. I’M HERE! Through the moves, the tears, the bullshit, the growing pains, the setbacks, and everything else. I made it.
I was finally on my way to becoming a defense attorney!
Just as quickly as I signed Pre-Law as my concentration, I deleted it from my agenda. I passed the class, but there was no personal thought involved. After years of seeing how the world works, the disadvantages and other obstacles holding folks back I wanted to be apart of the change.
How was I supposed to make changes if I had to abide by the book? Precedent. Precedent! Precedent? I was saddened that my life long plan of becoming a lawyer was not going to happen the way that I wanted it to.
I cried, and then got back to work.
I kept English as my major and Political Science as a minor to quench my thirst for comprehending our political system. What better system to study than that of our own Government and its relations with other nations, how it treats its women and people of color?
I read five to seven books per week, plus papers, general studying, reading for other courses, busy work/homework and had lacrosse. My first few years of college went exactly as expected. I was the only one of my friends who kept an early schedule instead of having classes mid day, so I spent a lot of my time alone. In my alone time, I over analyze. This is when I noticed that my professors in different departments were sharing plans. My quizzes, and exams were all too similar. The wording would differ but it’d be the same questions from one class to another.
I didn’t feel challenged and I was getting lazy. Barely showing up for class, and still passing. Two years in, I transferred to the University of Cincinnati.
There, I was working full time and commuting so I seldom missed a class.
There was always a debate.
I was always the black voice.
I was also the only female voice in some course debates or discussions. Again, there were no black students in ANY of my core English courses. So I went out of my way to have a discussion with the Dean about how the school should add any type of African American literature to the core coursework. That conversation went nowhere, and he basically told me that if they wanted to study it they would choose from the many electives offered. I’d grown used to the isolation but I still cried about it.
Well, if it wouldn’t be studied in school then how could I expose my peers to the black experience? Just showing up wasn’t going to be enough. Eventually I figured something out.
I obtained my English degree and a minor certificate in Political Science on April 30th Spring 2016. But, I was still working in the Public Health field.
My work left me no time to work on my hobbies but I found a way to get more work done. Hydration and sleep deprivation. I began blogging and from there I reached out to entrepreneurs and other companies to build my portfolio. The portfolio I created in undergrad was full of work that would only get me into an MFA program. Since I wanted to be freelance I had to get to build anew.
It was all so much fun!
To expand my portfolio I had to network. After practically working in isolation for so long, I didn’t know how to do that. Unless you were a youth a needed to recruit for one of my programs. That was also easy because I only had to be corny and engaging.
I stepped out into the city of Cincinnati’s young professional atmosphere. There were a handful of orgs and networking events to participate in. While I was all about work and only making time for loved ones, I got a taste of the happy hour lifestyle.
It was the out of office networking that led me to meet new people. I didn’t have to acknowledge everyone, no, but it made the room smaller. It made me comfortable, seeing as I was always on alert.
Because, unfortunately, all people aren’t good people. Being of age, doesn’t make someone an adult.
People are inherently good.
I believe everyone is born good, but we all face challenges that make it difficult to choose good over evil in every instance.
Due to those challenges that shape our attitudes about the world, we make mistakes.
We are also entitled to those mistakes, however, we must hold ourselves accountable when they are made.
I’ve been both offended by others and have also offended others. I avoid victimhood but, for the victimizers, there is Lex Leshay.
To protect my good-natured self, I created an alternative personality.
Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one personF. Scott Fitzgerald
The Essence Of Feeling And Imagination
The essence of feeling and imagination, otherwise known as my good-natured self, is used as a tagline. But, it isn’t a tag line exactly…
It’s the description of my birthdate and time of birth. Totally perfect for my writing prose, poetry, short stories and the like.
As you read this blog, you’ll enter into different times, you’ll feel like you’re a part of the story whether you’re the antagonist or the protagonist. You’ll desire to read more and you’ll want to attempt at expressing your own emotions and thoughts in a healthier way.
The words shared may make you cry, they may make you laugh, they may provoke your thoughts and they may reintroduce you to your imagination. Whatever these words do for you, don’t be too shy to share your feedback with me!
I’m Estrella Candelaria and it is a pleasure to have you here.