Imani Majied ’19 has spent her life with labels, both negative and positive. But a haunting question posed by a friend of her mother’s, as well as her community engagement work through Cornell, have taught Majied how to move past the labels and focus on service to others and a purpose outside herself.
At Soup & Hope Feb. 28, Majied described her first understanding of labels when, at the age of 5, she learned from her suburban neighbors that – because she was black and Muslim and came from a family of modest means – others could perceive her negatively. Her well-educated parents taught her that, in spite of these labels, no one could take Majied’s background from her: They knew that education could give Majied access to a better life.
“I grew up with books and religion,” Majied told the Sage Chapel audience, which included her father, who had driven from New Jersey to hear her talk.
Majied said she thought she had moved past the negative labels when she reached high school age and a nonprofit organization made it possible for her to go to an elite boarding school.