For Us by Us: The Untold Stories of People of Color on Campus
I Am Daryl Cabrol
Daryl Cabrol ’20 was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and came to the United States when he was six years old. When asked about his childhood in Haiti, Cabrol recalls, “I moved in with my aunt and cousin around the time my mom got sick, which is when everything started to get crazy. It started to spiral out of control, basically, because after her funeral I moved to many different places. I didn’t even see her get buried because there was a family feud between my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family. It was more of a mixture of miscommunication and not trusting one another... I started living with my grandmother after that, and then my father got shot. He got shot three times and was in critical condition; thankfully he survived. I think that was his wake-up call of how dangerous it was getting. So that was when we moved to Queens, New York, to live with my grandfather.”
Arlett Marquez: Where did you go to when you first came to the U.S?
Daryl Cabrol: I moved to Brooklyn ... and then moved to Florida. Before moving to Florida, though, I was living with my dad’s best friend and it was just horrible. On the weekdays during the summer since there was no school programs, I had to go to my dad’s work all the way in Manhattan. It was so irritating — there was nothing to do. I was by myself all the time. I don’t have any siblings, which is so fucking sad. My imagination ran wild. When we moved to Florida we were sleeping on the floor, and the situation just got awkward and we ended up kind of being kicked out. Where we were in Florida it was just not working out; there was nothing there for us. It was not fun. It’s such a depressing state. It was so slow. I think the hype comes mainly from tourists and not the people who live there permanently, and I wasn’t living like in Orlando or near Disney. Finally, we moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and I haven’t moved since.
AM: How is your relationship with your father?
DC: I’ll just say this: not every relationship is perfect. I think the biggest factor in a lot of problems is miscommunication. In a parent and child relationship that miscommunication stems from generational differences. Even worse for immigrant children who have been accustomed to the United States while their parents haven’t. It clashes a lot of the time. Also, when there are differences in sexuality and not having that space to talk about it, it is even worse. It’s detrimental to kids of color most predominantly because we do not have access to talk about these things even outside of home. It’s very common in our communities, where education, class and religion play a big role in ignorance. People of color in low-income houses are forced to not question certain things.
AM: How was school when you first got here?
DC: School was weird because I got bullied. Kids teased me about a lot of things. The charter school that I was in at the time was predominantly Haitian and Latino kids. I went to high school in the same place I went to middle school. The graduating class was about 86 people. I’m glad it was a small community. I think it would have been really tough for me if I went to a big school, which is one of the reasons I chose Brandeis. I also just wanted to leave home. I was in a mentally and physically abusive environment. One of my primary goals was leaving my fucking house and never coming back. Or just having an escape to be able to be myself.
AM: How has your experience on campus been?
DC: Can we talk about this campus and how hypocritical it is? I am just learning and understanding the importance of Louis Brandeis and how his vision — on paper — was to create an institution that pushed for social justice and having an inclusive and diverse community. However, we’re seeing this as just another white institution whose main goal is to provide for its — in this case —white Jewish students who are predominantly upper-middle class. This school plays a really big role in how it affects students of color who don’t have a Jewish background and are being forced to assimilate without having that mutual understanding. We can have all these Jewish holidays but don’t acknowledge the Muslim students and their religion, the Christian students and their religion or the non-religious students. It is a Jewish school, but this is also a school that promotes itself on inclusivity and diversity. I hate that false advertisement because I was one of these fools out here that fell for it. I think that if you’re going to promote all this shit you talk about, then put it into action. I find beauty in all religions and there’s all types of similarities, but why is it that only Jewish holidays are the only prominent ones at Brandeis? Brandeis needs to start making these different spaces available.
AM: Where do you find your space?
DC: I don’t have a space here. I think I’ve been struggling with that a lot. With the lack of education, you come into college not knowing where you are. If you’re not in a program like POSSE [Brandeis Posse Scholars] or TYP [The Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program] or MLK [Dr. Martin Luther King Fellowship], then you’re not going to get the help that you want. They do a great job with mental health here but they are not focusing on students who really need it, who are not accustomed to it. I haven’t talked to my counselor in a while and reaching out is not done properly. This has been the worst year of my life because I don’t know what I’m doing.
AM: Who are you, how do others see you and how do you want to be seen?
DC: Who am I? I am a — I would like to use queer at the moment — I am a queer man. A queer Black man. To me, queer means not really identifying with or knowing where you are in the spectrum but still being on the spectrum that is non-normative to gender and sexuality. I don’t know what that entails concerning my gender and sexuality but that’s where I am right now. Trying to figure out that aspect of me. I want to say I am a Haitian American queer man who sees beauty in everything. Who has a hard time expressing himself to the fullest potential that he wants others to understand him. I want to become someone who is at peace with all of his identities and how he maneuvers in the world so he is able to help others. I think that has to do with my education having that enlightened moment or moments where I excel and levitate spiritually, mentally and physically. I don’t know how others perceive me. I think it’s all different because I give people different energies. I would want others to see me as a cool person who is not just defined by his sexuality or his Blackness or his education but as a human who has a lot of potential and a lot to offer. I think people want certain things from you or are attracted to certain aspects of you without accepting the rest of the baggage that comes with it. So I want people to see the whole me. People do that a lot here. They’ll say “oh this guy’s funny”; “you’re hilarious” but really don’t want to sit down with me and have a conversation. I think it’s just a mixture of miscommunication and lack of knowledge, where people make their own assumptions and don’t seek out what’s real and what’s not real. I really like having conversations that go outside our comfort zones and that help us understand the world better.
AM: Have you reached that level of conversation/communication with someone?
DC: Yes, with certain people, but I’d like to go deeper. It’s partly my fault because I need to open myself more. I’m not perfect. I think a lot of people try to be. I’m not saying that you’re obligated to be open, because that all depends on a person’s experience, but if you can — do it.