❝ "I go to UVA" isn't just a statement of fact, it's a magical rhetorical talisman, it's a message to cops, to racist townies, to store owners and even visiting old alumni that you are one of the "good ones."
It means you're protected — I could be a star athlete, or have rich parents, or be on student council, you can't just treat me like any other black person living in Charlottesville. In your gut you know it feels awful to use, playing into this trope, especially surrounded by white kids whose behavior is often worse than yours, who are oblivious to the invisible protection that UVA provides.
"I go to UVA" is a nasty little golden ticket, born of a frothy mix of classism and institutional racism, and it's doled out to only those certain African Americans that ventured into the hallowed white spaces deemed off limits just a generation before (UVA didn't integrate until 1972). I used it exactly twice, once while being harassed by a shop owner at a store across the street from where Martese Johnson was beaten, and once more when I was being stared down by a cop that pulled me over. ❞