Sharing Your Thoughts In Class As An African-American Student

By Alex Rhodes

The fear of sounding dumb is what stops a lot of black students from sharing their thoughts in the lecture hall. I can say for a long time it held me back from asking questions, sharing my viewpoint, or doing whatever normally would cause me to speak out.

In order to build up the confidence to talk in the lecture hall, I started taking very little steps. My starting point was to make myself accustomed to hearing my voice in a noiseless lecture hall. When the instructor garbled his sentences or was not clear in his remarks, I would raise my hand and ask, "Could you say that over?" This query doesn't call for any forethought nor will it make it possible for another person to dispute or question your stance. It's merely the widely used, "I didn't hear exactly what the teacher stated, and I need explanation."

The next step was to answer the questions the instructor asked within my head. While another college student was responding, I would answer the query on my own, and also occasionally write down my views. When other students held a viewpoint similar to mine or cited a point I could build off of, I would put up my hand and deliver my opinion. Piggybacking off the students who already had laid the structure to introduce my feedback made me comfortable enough to chime in and offer my perspective in the classroom.

With this method, I started having no problem talking in class. I started voicing my insights regularly and was unafraid to provide a unique point of view from the rest of the class, as I often did.

This lengthy process was definitely worth it. After being able to talk openly in classes with so many people from various backgrounds, speaking in public grew to be rather easy. If you are scared of speaking up in college classes, begin by getting comfortable with solely talking in the lecture hall. Next, continue on to offering your ideas. You'll witness your own sense of self-esteem boosts every time you do.

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