Why I No Longer Eat Watermelon, or How a Racist Email Caused Me to Leave Graduate School

int / med


Names have been changed to protect myself from these very silly and possibly litigious white people.

I received a racist email in 2011, when I had just started the English PhD program at Rutgers University. This email has come to define so much of who I am, in ways both good and bad. I think about it every day. I get lost in it. Sometimes a stray thought or an offhand comment can catch me off guard, bringing this email and everything it represents rushing to the surface. It’s an awful cycle, and a destructive one that I want to break. The purpose of this post is to attempt to do exactly that. I want to exorcize these memories to the best of my ability, to drag them out. So here we are.

Some context. As I said, I was a first-year student in the English PhD program. I got this email…

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