Sorry. I don't fit the stereotypes.

Too many days riding the bus home from school through the poor side of town (Asheville people, could there be a reason Valley Street isn't a through street anymore?).

Too many days spent watching teachers and students try to fit into a thoroughly prejudiced white elementary school the first time they tried busing in 1969. One of those kids was my best friend. I shudder to think about what happened to her because of some of the nice little white girls who were raised to be the cream of local society.

Too many days spent watching some of the smartest kids in my school walk the halls almost on the other side from the "smart kids" (read the rich white and/or connected kids who were holding down the spots in the Gifted and Talented class) into classes that were almost deliberately designed (from teacher report) to be "not as good" as the white-kid classes. And the guidance counselors knew how to track them....watching three black kids get beat up by white kids for "getting out of their place" and trying to stand up and compete in the GT classes.

Too many days spent listening to good black friends (kiss my ass, but true words have been worn into a stereotype, mostly by people like my white-trash sister-in-law, but more about that later...best friends, huh?) tell me how bad it still is now. Seeing their tales of white people not speaking to them except to borrow class notes, "when suddenly they're friendly as all hell," watching their tales of "yes, it really is worse now -- the racism is more subtle" be borne out by the actions of every single white person I saw walking through the building....body postures and crossing to the other side of the hallway can tell you a lot...

Too many days spent watching the news and wondering when people are going to quit being amazed at how horrible people can be to other people. Notice it's mostly white people screaming about all the violence...didn't know your own damn kids could be so mean, did you?

Surprise, surprise, fucking surprise.

How many little white towns getting a couple of people punctured holes in does it take to get people screaming?

How many black ones?

Thank you.

I'm just sick of it.

Damn white people. (I am thoroughly Caucasian myself, but I'm sick of the way most of y'all, yes, I said y'all, act)

No wonder they're getting mad.

No fucking wonder.

And then to go up North to get a good education and get away from all the crap and have some damn Yankee girl instantly start criticizing me because I was having problems getting along with my roommate....

"Well, it's obviously because she was black."

Well, it's more obviously because we have absolutely nothing in common.

We figured that out in the first few days: "You stay on your side of the room and I'll stay on mine." Those weren't my words.

We just didn't get along.

And we managed to exist in that small dorm room rather peaceably for two years. Couldn't be bothered to notice that, could you?

"She hasn't given me a problem from the day I've met her." Small black words getting drowned out in all the white liberal accusations.

Problem was, nobody cared what the black person thought. They just wanted to make more trouble.

Y'all just fucking make me sick....

"I get more abuse from the other persons on this hall than I do from you." Quote unquote, but I suppose that doesn't mean anything when you have a convenient Southern white girl to yell at....

Aw, go to hell. Damn Yankees...

Which brings up another point. Race-blind admissions.

Whining about "our kids are going to be shut out of schools." Well, dear, they've been shut out since first damn grade. When are you going to pay attention to the problem at its root?

Is it just more cute and fun and political to go beating up on the universities than it is to get involved in the schools and let your kids know that school is for learning, not for hanging out in?

And I'm speaking to both races (whatever, all races, but I'm mostly focused on black-white because that's what I know the most about) here.

That's where it starts. Get individual teachers who give a damn. (If you can still find some of us -- we tend to get run out of the schools at an alarmingly rapid rate, often by quite conscious effort on the part of the system -- happened to me more than once)

Back them. Let them know they will be supported. Then Berkeley will have to fight as damn hard to keep your kids out as they do the Asians.

Notice where the Ph.D.'s are going...Thank you. Quit yer bitching. Homework monitoring at home does have a usefulness once in a while. Daily calls to the teacher if kid's having a problem does do a little bit of good...

Even showing your damn face on teacher-parent night really, really does help.

At least we know what you look like.

I will never forget my roommate's face. Never. And it is "Marie" I think of whenever somebody starts bitching about racial quotas in education and how incredibly fair they are and how we really need to be doing something to help our race.

I don't believe a fucking word of it.

You didn't have to sit there while your black female "twofer, politically correct" (her own words) roommate cried her eyes out over homework she literally could not do because they had pushed her too hard "because of my race." I swear that's literally what she said.

She would have turned down that prestigious racial recruitment scholarship to an internationally-known boarding school in a heartbeat if she'd known how bad it was going to be.

Teachers didn't pay attention to her there. She was supposed to function on her own without any help. Her own school back home, where she at times devoutly wished she'd stayed, was giving her a lot more support. "At least they understood my situation. These damn white people don't know what they're doing."

Twofered in (her words again) to one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. Twofered in ("you wanna bet?" Marie again) to a prestigious medical school.

Is that Marie's medical degree or someone else's?

She literally could not do the work. She was struggling just to pass. Yes, the University of Chicago is an extraordinarily tough school (I never knew anyone who would even admit to knowing anyone who had a 4.0 -- 3.75 was cause for cussing out, nicknaming, and being a damn campus legend). But that many hours? I wasn't a "chem person," and I could handle some of the coursework better than she could. She readily admitted she had "never been taught the thinking skills" to handle the rigorous core work required at the University -- the very reason I went there. She cried over Heidegger. I was having fun.

I am willing to bet, and so was Marie, that if she'd stayed at her own damn high school she would have been trained much better. "Sure, I would never have gotten in here, but I might have gotten in somewhere else where they could teach me to think straight." She was lost. One of the most academically demanding schools in the world (2.95, if you must know -- I have despised that number for years). At least I knew how to have fun in the library....I used to go there on my "off days" and hang out and read semiotics journals or explore the children's section or something. Maybe cruise through the music folios...She avoided the place like the plague when she didn't have to be there. Good way to teach someone education is important, when they literally cross the street to walk on the other side from the Reg.

"How can I help other black people if I can't even help myself?"

Go hit the elementary schools and quit your damn bellyaching.

And by the way. My white-trash sister-in-law, who really at some point is going to be memorialized on her own page (as well as various other members of my equally amazingly weird and delightfully describable family), has always pretended that this black woman we know and her (also black) husband, both very intelligent people, are the best friends of her and my brother (thank God they're divorced...Lord have mercy, woman had the nerve to bitch me out for an hour one time about being a conservative way back when I was into nodding my head and ignoring people). Best friends: Okay. It's okay to pick on someone who is black in your own dorm as long as you make up about it later. (Did you literally not see what she did to you five minutes later? What, was the kid sister so much a part of the scenery in the dorm that year that you didn't realize I saw that shit?) And parading you in front of all their (equally-prejudiced) friends and relatives as maid of honor and best man at the wedding -- and then continuing to dine out on the tale, I swear to God, 20 years later? (Saw it done, dear, saw it done...) Are you so eager for white acceptance that you will literally ignore looks of hatred that five other people in the room notice? Yeah, right, you're standing up for your own race. Yeah, right. At least at the wedding, I had the guts to go tell the "racist" grandmother you two had been sleeping together before the wedding (didn't know she'd done it herself, did you? Lord have mercy, how judgmental...)...and didn't you realize that "coon child" for her was simply a term for "that person with skin color different from mine" and that she was trying to make an honest attempt to converse with you on the subject of the black girl you guys had taken in as foster parents? She was trying to be nice. I swear she was. Words like "black" and "Negro" do not come easily out of mouths like that, but she really liked the child.

Bought her candy and a couple of new outfits and took her to see a movie, if I remember correctly.

More than you guys ever did.