Posted on October 28, 2021

A Pre-Med Letter of Resignation, With (Self) Love & Liberation

Kyla Golding, Harvard Crimson, October 22, 2021

To students, teachers, peers, and the Harvard community: This is my official farewell to the pre-medical track here at Harvard. I hope it finds you well.

While this isn’t just another story about the toxicity of pre-med culture, getting weeded out, or leaving my academic path for some earth-shattering love of another aspiration, it is a story of how white supremacy lives and breathes in each of our bodies, spreading between each of us — body to body — like contagion. It is a story of trying to mitigate chronic pain to create the possibility for genuine healing and recovery. A story of a great act of resistance: a Black woman choosing herself.

I took an inorganic chemistry exam the same day that a grand jury failed to charge two police officers with the murder of Breonna Taylor. That day, my body inhaled molecules of white supremacy as they seeped out of my computer from that proctored Zoom room. They entered my bloodstream and catalyzed a metabolism that would allow for the invasion of my body by a violently infectious life form. A chronic pain, caused by the perpetuation of lethally unjust practices and compounded by the silence and avoidance between myself and my educators when it comes to Black women’s lives, would make its way through and onto neighboring cells within my physical being. The presence of the germ of white supremacy would cause a steric hindrance within me, slowing down and even preventing the reactions of learning and healing that I desperately needed for myself and from others in that moment. The exam began, and I haven’t been able to show up mentally or emotionally in a science class since.

When white supremacy invades the bodies of those of us who dare to be Black, female, and breathing, it reproduces as a crippling affliction that accompanies us everywhere — physically, psychologically, and spiritually. The weeks I had spent preparing for that exam could never amount to the time and energy I have spent mourning Breonna Taylor. {snip}


Thirteen months, two biology courses, one inorganic chemistry course, and half an organic chemistry course later, the germ of white supremacy still shows up in my body every time I enter the Science Center C lecture hall or its Zoom room equivalent. Written between my answers on every problem set and at the point of my pencil on every exam are the physical and psychological wounds marking my agonizing pain as it spreads through my body, agitating my brain and cramping the muscle that is my heart.