Another book sample as requested. I better find a publisher soon or the entire thing will be on my blog! No, I’m just kidding. It’s a long book and I know I will get it out there soon in one way or another. In the mean time, here’s a small section that takes place at the beginning of Jr. High. I was actually inspired to post this by the “If Santa was black” trending topic on Twitter this morning, which by the way, it’s totally unacceptable for black people to be perpetuating negative stereotypes about ourselves by joking about such things on a public forum. There are certain things you just don’t say in front of white people, and don’t know if any of them noticed, but there are white people on Twitter. Racially based humor can be funny at times, but not when stated in such a self-degrading way for all to laugh AT (not with). Do “we” really hate ourselves that much? Or are we truly that ignorant and willfully blind not to see the self-loathing in it all? SMH. Anyway, I digress. Here’s the excerpt. Let me know what you think.
It was nice to be a kid again, in our new life. Our second move to Washington replaced a world of Top Ramen, fending for ourselves, and no direction, with one filled with family dinners, Bibles, and sports. While the time in Cali had taken me from cheery and free to furious, the new setting carried me a portion of the way back, to shy and timidly content. The summer was fun like it always was at Daddy’s house, and our blended family came together nicely, for the most part. We even asked Nylene if we could start calling her “Mom”, which I think touched her because she teared up when she agreed.
When school started, it was a reminder that it wasn’t just Daddy’s house, but our home once again too. I went to school at McGloughlin Middle School (Mac for short). It was the first year they had moved sixth graders up to the middle school level, and the older kids hated the idea of having us “little kids” in “their school”; they were considerably less than welcoming.
One eighth-grade girl hated me right away. She was big, and fat, and black, and determined that I was “too white” to be considered black too. She said it was because I talked like a white girl, all my friends were white, and because my Mom packed my lunch everyday. It was the first time I had ever heard that–though it wouldn’t be the last–and it confused me.
I knew I talked proper, but it was because of how I grew up. We were on the West Coast, after all. And since when was making your own lunch a prerequisite for being black? And, so what if my friends were white? She wasn’t being a very encouraging example of black girls. Plus they weren’t all white. My friend Brookelynne was black; she just went to a different school.
I’m sorry but I’ve never understood the whole chip on the shoulder that some black people have about “acting white”. I get that they’re searching for an identity of their own, while still trying to be successful. I totally agree with that. Where I have a problem is when some blacks think that their separate identity has to include ignorant speech, and even more ignorant behavior, in order to prove they are not slaves to white-run society, even when that ignorant speech can’t get them a job, or that ignorant behavior has them walking around without an education, or worse, in jail. What’s even more aggravating is when one’s level of success is thought to have a limit in order to still be “black”. Who said success outside of sports and the music industry was a white-owned concept? It’s ridiculous. There is no achievement in being a certain way just to prove a point if you hurt yourself in the process. I say, if acting ignorant is acting black, then I’ll act white and be proud of it.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t that bold in Jr. High. When she threatened to beat me up over her little problem with my behavior, I was so scared I turned around and went the other way every time I saw her in the hallways.
Avoiding her wasn’t difficult, and I think she eventually forgot about me. I ended up having the most trouble from someone in my own grade: Dante Fogarty. I was already taller than everyone, had gotten glasses the summer before, and was not what one would consider cute by any means. In fact, I recently showed a friend an old school picture of me and he said, “Dang. Good thing you got pretty later.” Ha, thanks. Anyway, Dante subjected me to all the normal teasing from the Handbook for Young Jerks Intent on Scarring Their Female Classmates for Life. Jolly Green Giant, four eyes, Big Foot, Gumby, too tall, etc etc; I heard them all. I spent many lunch times crying in the bathroom as a result of his merciless teasing.
A few years later when I turned out to be relatively successful in high school, he all the sudden wanted to be friends, which I had to laugh at. Nothing though, was as sweet as when I went back to Vancouver a couple years ago, and happened to run into Dante at a mutual friend’s house. The look of shock and then awe on his face was priceless. Not that I needed his approval so many years later. But it was the moment we’d all dreamt of in school when we got made fun of. The one where we’d say, “You just wait ’til I’m hot and successful. I’m gonna come back and show you all,” and then it actually happens. Seeing him that night made the entire trip worth it.