I’m BACK! If you missed my first story, click here.
Alrighty, let’s continue, shall we?
(This is long. Didn’t mean for it to be.) 🙂
I’ll probably say this a lot, but I loved high school. I had some big life moments in high school, moments that shaped a lot of who I am today. So h.s. was my jam. A few years ago, I discovered my high school yearbooks were damaged. They were in my parent’s attic and the roof leaked right on top of them. I was SO UPSET. I reached out on FB for ideas on what to do. Lots of good suggestions, but ultimately, I decided to toss them out. They were very moldy. And just…destroyed. I did, however, take pics of all of the signatures in my senior yearbook. It was the best I could do. *sigh*
These stories actually begin in junior high. My school (SC) was a K-12. I started there in the 7th grade. SC was a pre-dominantly white (PW) school. All of my elementary schools were pre-dominantly Black. The school being PW was a big change, but I think I handled it well. I wasn’t scared or anything because of that aspect. I was scared to just attend a new school period. I had a friend at the school already though, which helped a lot. She and I met in the 4th grade at my previous school. She left our school after the 5th grade though, leaving me to deal with Tamika and Jeremy in the 6th grade (see this post).
I made friends immediately. Everyone was very open and welcoming. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know what to expect, but the openness was awesome. The way I remember it, it felt like everyone wanted to be my friend. *lol* I remember sitting in homeroom during a free period and a small group gathered around me (not all at once, that would be weird). Everyone was asking me how I knew my friend, where I lived, did I play sports (sports were big at my school), etc. I remember one guy telling me he liked my hair. It was weird, but I just said thanks.
When all was said and done, I ended up hanging around the cheerleaders mostly, and a few other girls. I didn’t know they were cheerleaders at first, but soon discovered it when they came to school one day in uniforms. They were all very smart and some of the guys would make fun of them for being teacher’s pets. They weren’t though, they were just well-behaved, smart and nice girls. They were model students, so of course the teachers liked them. Later in 8th grade, after trying out for softball and basketball (don’t laugh), I became a cheerleader. This was such a huge step outside of my comfort zone. *Trump voice* HUGE. As I said before, I was so shy. I hated being the center of attention. I hated putting myself out there. But something told me to do it. So I did it and it was awesome! I loved cheerleading so much!! *cheer emoji if there was one*
Seventh and eighth grades were cool. They were considered junior high at my school, so they were structured like the high school. We had seven classes per day, with 5 minutes between each class to switch. We had a homeroom period to start and end the day. We had a 20 minute lunch (I know, so short, but it seemed long). If the weather was nice, we got to go outside for lunch (in the parking lot *lol*). Ohhh, the parking lot. The parking lot…it was part parking lot for the teachers and high schoolers that drove; and part space for the elementary kids to play. We took our lunch before the little kids, so the girls would go sit and talk in our little cliques, while the guys would play football or basketball.
The girls, if was sunny, would roll up the bottom of their skirts and try to tan. This was Catholic school, so we’re all wearing the most beeeeautiful, long plaid skirts with Oxford shirts. (That’s sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.) But these girls would try so hard to tan! It was comical. One day in 7th grade, I was sitting with my friends when this girl named Desiree (yes, her real name…she ain’t reading this) asked me, “So, do Black people tan?” I feel like someone echoed her question with a, “Oh yeah, I’ve always wanted to know that too”.
Oh boy…here we go.
As I think back to that moment, I can’t quite remember how I felt. I know how I feel NOW! *lol* But I think I felt a little anxiety since this question put me on the spot. I remember saying something like, “Uhhh yeah, you just can’t really tell like you can with a white person. But yeah we tan.” That was the civilized thing to say. I’m sure I’d still say that today, but I’d totally give the person a crazy look first. Like, “umm, do you think the sun just ignores Black people because we’re already dark or what?” *smh* *lol*
Here’s the thing about that moment though, that taught me things that I’ve taken with me through life.
- People don’t know what they don’t know.
- Americans need to be better educated about different cultures.
- Ask me anything, but depending on HOW you say it, depends on IF I answer.
In terms of that moment, it taught me that my new (white) friends, didn’t have the slightest clue about Black people. Like, none. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. It’s really sad when you think about it. And there are MILLIONS of people in this country (as evidenced by the lack of understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement/group) that still haven’t the slightest clue about Black culture. *sigh* Don’t get me started. So, in that moment, sitting out in the parking lot, I took it upon my TWELVE YEAR OLD self, to speak on behalf of Black people. I know, I didn’t have to do that, but I’m kind of a “reach one, teach one” kinda person.
Besides, they were just 12 year old girls. So impressionable. So naïve. Soooo in need of an actual Black person to teach them, rather than their parents who may/may not be racist/biased/bigoted/prejudiced/etc. But it’s because of this experience that I am who I am today (along with the help of my parents, of course). I realized with those girls, not one of them had ever had a real Black friend. I’m pretty sure their parents didn’t either. And their parents’ parents…and so on. If ALL you KNOW (this is the key) are white people, well… that’s all you know. Now, of course they SAW Black people (on tv, when they shopped, etc), but they didn’t know them. Think of who you KNOW. Not just the surface/superficial relationships, but the people you know for real in your friend circle. I’m gonna totally brag here and say I have friends from all races, cultures, etc. I’m super proud of that and that’s what makes the difference. Really knowing people, not just seeing them walk around or on TV/movies, is what helps us learn about others. It helps breakdown and break stereotypes.
Kinda went off on tangent, but in short, my experiences in h.s. really shaped a lot of how I think about people, the world, etc. It’s a little kumbaya, yes. But I like it. I like ME and that’s all that matters, right? 🙂
I may do another post about h.s. before moving into college stuff. One story I’ll share is about how this kid in my h.s. randomly called me a n******. Yeah. That happened. It was weird because I never talked to that kid before. I didn’t get mad, I just felt bad for him because he was doing it to get a rise out of me. He was a douche…before he said that and definitely after. *smh* I’ll share that next week.