Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Story that I Wished to Tell

**The other day I wrote a post to lead into this particular entry. You have to read the entry to better understand where I'm coming from in this one.**

After leaving the School for the Blind, I walked away and put the school behind me, never really wanting to look back on those dreadful days. There were only one or two people that I kept in touch with over time. Many people have wondered how could I disconnect myself from so many people that I not only went to school with, but that I ate with and lived with. But the truth is that I was never connected to those people anyway.

For the four years I went to school and lived at the Texas School for the Blind, I felt like a stranger, a hostage, a stow away, a prisoner, a captive. Therefore, none of my emotions were planted there. Unlike many of the blind children that resided at TSBVI, I didn't feel like TSBVI was my haven, my sanctuary, or my retreat from the sighted world. I saw it as a place that I was forced to go to in order to learn how to live life as a blind person. And that was certainly not my idea of fun.

Yes, while I was there, all of my times were not bad. There were actually a few students that I loved and thought of as family. Ladama and Cassie come to mind. I had plenty of good times with both of those girls.

Ladama was my black friend, my roommate, my sister, my homegirl. She's gone to heaven now. I guess we will get a chance to meet again one day.

Cassie was my white friend, my Middle of the night partner, my peek into the mind of a white girl. She schooled me on pop music, how white girls date, and what many white people silently think about black folks. I loved Cassie very much. Still do... We haven't talked in over 10 years. I hear she's in Austin. But I don't know where. But I hope she's okay. I got mad love for the chick.

Well, when I went to Austin last month on business, I thought it may be a good idea for me to push all of my feelings aside and reach out to some of my classmates, who have accused me of distancing myself from them. I specifically wanted to find Cassie and another young woman that I went to high school with, Toni. So, I called CC, who is always glad and grateful to hear from me. I figured she would know how to get in touch with some folks.

CC didn't know how to get in touch with the two women that I was looking for, but she knew the telephone number of someone who did. And guess what... The person she knew how to get in touch with was the person that the school administrators used to push me into being second place in the academic contest that they were holding.

I didn't want to talk to this young lady, but I figured that the conversation was going to be painless. I wanted the telephone number of the other women. So, I was on a mission. Plus, I didn't have any hard feelings for the girl. But I knew that she was a little touched. Remember, this is the same girl that used to slap herself in the face when she got frustrated.

CC called the woman up. The woman acted all excited to hear from me. And what did she bring up? The valedictorian fiasco...

"Are you still mad at me for being valedictorian over you?"

I couldn't believe that this girl, who I haven't talked to in 15 years was asking me this. Surely, she couldn't believe that my 30 something self is sitting up harboring ill will for someone that I feel was only used as a prop in the whole matter. But I guess because she didn't know how I really felt about it, I guess she could somehow use all of the hot air I dispensed to fuss about the matter 15 years ago to inflate her feeble ego.

"Nope, I'm not mad at you."

And the conversation continued. She told me how she's now a "born again" Christian. She also told me how she played the harmonica for money at the rodeo. (Yes, I forgive you, my sighted readers. Blind lady playing the harmonica makes you think of Stevie Wonder. Mee too.) She went on to tell me how she lives in an efficiency apartment in Austin.

Well, she asked me what brought me to Austin. I told her business. I then told her that I would have liked to be in Austin during the primary fever. I told her that I thought it would've been exciting to be in Austin during the debate and so on.

Well, this young lady said, "I voted for Hillary Clinton. Who did you vote for?"

Well, I'm old school in the sense that I believe that it is socially disrespectful to ask someone who they voted for. I think it is private. So, I avoided the question. But it came back at me again.

"I voted for Hillary Clinton. Who did you vote for?"

So, since she insisted on getting an answer out of me, I decided to speak up and tell the woman who I voted for. It's not like it's a secret. Anyone who reads my blog, the Bible Girl blog on the Dallas Observer, or Skeptical Brotha's blog knows who I support in this campaign.

"Barack Obama." I replied.

And guess what this born again, harmonica playing, efficiency apartment living, blind woman said.

"That figures. With you being black and all, i'm not surprised you voted for Obama I would expect you to vote for him, being that both of y'all are black."

"What?!" I screamed in my head.

I couldn't believe that this unemployed, disabled woman would have the nerve to make a racist statement like that. How dare she? How dare she reduce Senator Obama to a sack of black skin?

I guess in her eyes, he nor I, have brains, the ability to choose, the ability to make sound, rational decisions. I guess the fact that Senator Obama is a US Senator means nothing. I guess his law degrees don't mean a hill of beans. I guess my BA and MA degrees are just sheets of blank paper. I guess our intellects have no value. We're just blacks.

I rebuked her by asking her in my intellectually snobby voice, "Do you really think that Senator Obama would have the lead in the primaries if only black people were voting for him?"

Well, she knew she had pissed me off. And she immediately started back peddling.

"I'm not a racist, Angela. I was just playing. I'm really not a racist. You don't think I'm a racist, do you?"

And the answer to that last question is YES.

And she and others wonder why I keep myself far away from them.

It's not because I think I'm better than them. It's not because I think they are stupid. It's not because I hate associating myself with people who are blind.

I stay away from many of them because I am allergic to nonsense, ignorance, and a basic disrespect of humanity.

I was offended mostly because this young woman, who has a disability, had the nerve to look down on another human, only because he is supposedly different than her. I was offended that someone who has limitations, and is still trying to figure out how to get passed them, could not recognize the many accomplishments of Senator Obama, just because he was black. It was this same kind of thinking that made me, a black girl, feel like a foreigner at a school that was supposed to make me, a blind girl feel so comfortable.

**Shaking my head**

I know this post was long. But I didn't want to break it up any further. Thanks for hanging in there with me with this story.

Peace and love,



Ensayn1 said...

Angie, I liked this post and the previous. I can relate on the level that when I went to high school, I went out to an all white school in San Diego, California where I grew up. Actually it was a student population of about 2500 with aproximately 150 black people attending. Of the Blacks there about 100 came from the "ghetto" like myself and the others lived in the white neighborhood. I could feel what you wrote, personally when you spoke of being one of the only Blacks at that school. What is so funny in a strange way is every time we had confrontations with white kids, when they called us nigger or someother name and one of us whipped that arse, they would always say what this white girl said "I was just playing..." Crazy after all this time this is still what these type people say. You should have peeped her right away, that she has deep seated problems beyond her sight or lack of sight, because she has no vision. She lives in the "trailer park" of her own mind. The minute she asked you if you were still mad about something 15 years ago, should have let you know she was and is burdened by it and that you had the upper hand over her then and now. That dispite not having sight you have great vision that she may never attain.

Angie said...

Thanks for your comment. You're right on point.
What little bit didn't understand is that when a person has a BA and a MA, the achievements or lack of achievements in high school are not even an issue.
What I didn't tell you or my other readers in the post is that little bit told me that now that she is a Christian, she and I are "sisters", and now we can be friends. Sisters? Yeah, we're both Christians. But I hardly feel like this woman is my sister. And if the only reason why she could think of me as a sister is because of the red blood that was shed by Christ, that's ridiculous. I guess the fact that we are fellow humans is not enough to draw us together. Hmmm.... I'm sure if my skin was white, we wouldn't need Jesus to validate our connection.
You grew up in San Diego? Okay... I'm sure that was an experience different from my own. You'll have to share one day.

Ensayn1 said...

Angie, Growing up in San Diego may not be that different. I will share more.