Dr. Aliya F. Browne
When I went to college initially I was a chemistry pre-med major. I took an African American history course as an elective. I didn’t know anything about African American studies, I think that first course was the basic African American history. Three or four weeks into that course, I realized that African Americans really had an extensive history here in this country outside of slavery, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. Midway into that course, I became infuriated that I had not known the depths of my history and was not taught that growing up in an inner city, even with a mom who’s an English teacher; we had some exposure, but not a lot. I knew that I would go to medical school, and I decided at that point to change my major from chemistry and become an African African-American studies major. I continued with pre-med obviously to make sure I did all of my sciences, but that was the moment the breadth and depth of my history-- not only from an African American perspective, but also from an African perspective— became an important to me. That made a significant difference in my life, in the way I viewed my culture and the people surrounding me.
I was contemplating wearing my grandmother’s hat. My grandmother died 4 years ago. I don’t necessarily wear her hat-- it just it sits there, reminding me of her love. So when I feel a certain way, and I want to wear her hat, I know I’m honoring her when I wear it. Wearing hats to funerals and to church services is symbolic in our culture, and that’s usually when I wear mine. This hat does not have any true special significance. I saw the hat, it was beautiful, and I had to have it. The one thing I remember about this hat was that I bought for a mother-daughter tea, but I initially wore it to a friend’s husband’s funeral. She had asked all the ladies to wear hats. So every time I remember this hat it takes me back to that day. I felt regal and proud to be able to support her in that manner and to be able to wear the hat as a symbol of our love for her. Even though it was a hard time for her, he was in his 40s when he passed away, we knew that we were standing in solidarity. We let her know that we were there in support of her. So that’s one of my fondest memories about this hat-- I just loved the hat. So, no real significant meaning in purchasing, but it meant a lot to me to be able to support her in that way- honoring his memory. Every time I wear that hat I remember her, I remember her husband, and I remember that day-- it takes me back.