Two Excerpts from Race Against Tine
What happened in the next few days prompted the first steps at true desegregation even if it started from the wrong, initial events. After their forced, botched, hygiene appointments- the hippies and black students bonded against some clannish farmers. The minority group secured an audience that felt their pain inflicted by a small group of agricultural land owners. Let me add here that not all southern farmers fell into this group but the few on campus with scissors in hand didn’t promote the unity and reconciliation that desegregation sought.
Being in group four, these events amazed me but not in a good way. All the hoopla made me think about life choosing my own position on this subject. For the record, my stand remains against unexpected hair appointments. My being evolved into someone against everything those pseudo-barbers represented and for good reason because of what I witnessed in those next weeks. Tensions escalated; the results haunt my psyche even today.
In this southern state, every summer day around three in the afternoon, torrential downpours abound but that is only true in rainy season. Colder months bring calmer drizzles unlike hotter times. As winter arrived, some white girls tried to put the minority group in their place; intolerance grew producing a furious storm to develop. Problems increased and escalated until that unnaturally wild day.
At school, in spite of the fact that life remained in the dead of winter, tempers heated until it all erupted into a raging storm. As I exited the cafeteria, my vantage point well established, my eyes tried to communicate rapidly with my brain. However, the message returned, ‘Does not compute!’
What my psyche witnessed from afar included bodies- people- all over the place moving hastily then not at all. Screaming accompanied this sight. A riot finally registered in my soul; it clearly blocked the path between the gym and a row of bathrooms falling into the area in front of the main back doors. Natural, student traffic couldn’t enter our main loggia or hallway to classes due to the violent storm raging in that region.
Before capturing my heart back into my chest, my eyes swore they glimpsed our principal enter the girls’ bathroom. On his heels, some other adults raced to this area. A few grown-ups got hold of students dragging them through the doors to the main building as the bell rang out. “Go to class!” But, how?
The passage remained blocked as some of the adult pulled our principal to safety. He bled, and my heart sunk back into my chest. The man that protected us needed assistance; that thought scared me the most.
Deciding class might be safer than venturing into the crazy situation, I turned quickly walking between the building and the cows mooing in their pastures. Were they warning me of trouble ahead or speaking to their owners? Was the noise a signal of a stampede ahead? In spite of these unknowns, it still felt smarter to pass as near as sensible to the herd bellowing about a possible mad dash than to walk through a true one in the aftermath of the campus riot. My feet carried me swiftly so as not to second guess my choice; other students quickened their pace moving the same direction. I led this impromptu parade around to the front doors into the building. Then, we scattered to class.
Once seated, those in the know began recounting the drama still unfolding by the gym. “I heard some girls told these others that they needed to leave because it was a whites only bathroom.”
“You are kidding right?” I naively spoke.
“No, she told it right! The anger built to the point of no return. This rudeness started as soon as we entered this place,” Clara added to her pal’s rendition of the skirmish.
IF LOVING YOU IS WRONG?
“I have a question,” He broke the silence while his bold conversation took my breath away, momentarily.
“What book are you looking for?” My mind imagined aloud the direction of his inquiry.
“Not related to these,” He flicked one and tapped another moving properly into the row.
Does not compute! “What?” I smartly added to his banter.
“I saw you through the windows a few weeks ago,” He pointed to the wall of glass doors.
“I get a credit by taking my class here in the library. My job includes helping replace books to their correct shelves; it counts as my seventh class of the school day.”
“I figured that!” He looked to the ground seemingly shy or contemplative. Then, he broke the silence, again. “I wondered,” The boy stammered, “I decided to go for it.”
“What?” My voice asked casually.
“I know we are different.”
“True! I am a girl, and you aren’t.”
“Right,” He chuckled, “That brings me to my original question.” This time his eyes roamed the books on the left; he scanned the novels while his mind searched for the right words. “Do you think a girl like you could ever date a boy like me?”
Jesting while nervously giggling, “You mean a brain and a brawn?”
“No, I mean my color and yours.”
“Oh, my blue eyes verse your brown ones?” My jokes relieved the tension.
“Race,” He desperately pointed out the obvious.
My nervousness kept me flippant, “You mean track star verses Star Track junkie.”
“Cultural differences,” He relentlessly tried to make me stop jesting but my mind strangely locked in that mode.
“Catholic and you aren’t?” I dropped a cultural name.
“How do you know I’m not?” He debated.
“Guessing you might be Protestant.”
“Hum,” He mumbled adding, “Good deductive reasoning”
“A talent,” My laughter arrived as a short pronounced giggle.
“Our religious differences might hamper a relationship?”
“If I converted?”
“Would you?” My teasing remained relentless.
“Not sure since I’m still not sure we can even date.”
“We can’t,” My words eased him down less than gently.
“Because of the religion thing?”
“My dad,” My mouth stated the obvious but only apparent to me at that point.
Taken by surprise, he blurted out, “Your dad?”
“He preaches that his children must marry a person with two things. They are blue eyes and Catholic.”
“I thought you follow the Catholic faith so how is your dad a preacher?”
“He isn’t,” My laughter followed my short answer.
“Then, where does he preach?”
“Only in our home, maybe, a better description is rants and raves.”
“My eyes are brown but I can convert,” The boy volunteered.
“Still fifty fifty.”
“I cannot accept defeat. I wish we could date.”
“Not going to happen,” My answer stayed negatively driven.
“Even if I became rich and famous?”
“Not as long as my dad exists on this earth. He is a bigot.” I managed an empathetic smile, “He’d be mean to you- really harsh. Otherwise, I’d say yes.”
“You are so beautifully honest.” He pulled his ego together touching my chin then cheek, “Your eyes aren’t only blue but they sparkle with your truthfulness. Thank you for not leading me on.” Turning back, his eyes twinkled and danced as he disappeared from the area.
When Narrator goes from student to teacher, WHAT Happens?
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