Interviewer: What is so different, like a couple of key differences?
Jason:A couple of key differences is, as I said the blacks in Canada are different. So the way that we talk and the way that we interact and the way that we everything is just different.
Jason had gone to what he described as an “upper-class mostly Jewish” high school in Toronto. He was used to dressing conservatively in khakis and polo shirts not like some of the black men he met at the University of Pennsylvania who liked to “dress down” in baggy urban styles.
…Well I have seen most of the black men on campus where baggy clothing. And it is not uncommon to see [them] in [their] sweats or wearing some jeans, black women on the other hand are the opposite, they dress up and I think among the whites on this campus I think that black men dress down but in a different range of that… The brands are I don’t know.
Sandra was shocked by the fact that she did not automatically make black friends. Like Nia, she did not live in Du Bois House her freshman year but chose to live in the Quad where she was the only black student on her hall. Sandra caught flack from an older black peer who thought that Sandra was being disloyal to other blacks by choosing a majority white dorm over Du Bois. Sandra explained:
I remember being at one party and this one older, like upper class girl asked me: “Where are you living?” She’s black and she’s like: Where are you living? And I was like “I’m in the Quad.” She’s like: “How come you’re not living in Du Bois?” I was like: “To tell you the truth, I decided to go to Penn like that day that the applications were due and I didn’t have the time to write to get into Du Bois.” And [she’s] just like: “So that’s the reason why you’re not living in Du Bois? Because you didn’t wanna write an essay?! And she was like: “You know, you’re so ignorant, like you would prefer to live with the white people than to live with the black people because you don’t want to write an essay?” Like she got into like this big thing and it basically boiled down to like you would rather isolate yourself from the black people, by living in the Quad you’d rather isolate yourself from black people than participate in like all this stuff that’s gonna be happening in Du Bois like because you didn’t want to write an essay… But it was like almost like at that point I felt like the divisions…Like this is the first time like that I’m living with a group of black people.