For many students, college is a time of self-discovery, but for business freshman McKenzie Powell, the struggle has been more complicated than others. As the child of a white father and a black mother, she’s been forced to forge a community of her own.
Although Powell was surrounded by a diverse group of peers during childhood, she said she never felt truly accepted by any of them.
“They would say I wasn’t black enough or white enough,” Powell said. “There was really no where else for me to go.”
She encountered this in high school, where they held a multi-cultural fair to celebrate the student body’s diversity. As a way to showcase the diversity that often exists within people, Powell created her own booth, labeled “the mixed babies booth.”
“There were a lot of people at the school who could identify as mixed babies,” she said. “They didn’t, because people couldn’t accept them for being mixed.”
Once she made it to college, Powell tried to connect with Multicultural Engagement Center at UT, but Powell said she believes they are still segregated from within.
“They have it sectioned off by ‘black studies’ and ‘white studies,’” Powell said. “That doesn’t seem multi-racial if you’re separating by groups.”
As a business major, Powell has a personal sense of drive and independence, and looks to impact the world on her own terms. If given the opportunity, she says she would want to advocate for people of mixed ethnicities and help them understand they do not have to choose one background.
“I’m passionate about the idea of people accepting who they are, and everything that is a part of who they are,” Powell said. “I struggled for a while, and I think it’s important that people let others know who they are.”