Day 12 – Whatever tickles your fancy (Black Solidarity)

Posted: July 21, 2010 in Food for Thought, Just Wow, Ramblings
Tags: , , ,

My job this summer is working as a resident advisor for teenagers at an academic camp, which I thoroughly enjoy. However, one of the things that I noticed was the lack of diversity. Are there hispanic kids here? If you count kids from Spain….What about black kids? Well, there’s just one.

The first day of registration, it was something that I thought could become a problem. There was just one black girl that I had seen among 115 otherwise European or Asian faces. Not my problem really, but at 16 and for 4 weeks that could become a problem. The funny thing is that we have 2.5 black staff members. There’s me and D, but then there’s also M whose dad is black but I almost always forget that because she looks like a Nuyorican. It’s a mental heuristic, and yes I know it’s not right (but I’m not conducting an actual census or attempting to be purposively offensive).

I remember texting Mbreezy.

So out of 1oo or so kids, guess how many are black?

[a few]

Nope. Just one.

Is she at least a ‘token’?

Nah, she was wearing a G-Unit polo and dunks

Oh, rough

Anyway, it seems to not have been too much of an issue for her as her RA was D, who I believe makes a point of making the student feel included. Now cut to the news that I’ve found out recently….

I also have African-American students! But I found out so late, like in week 3. One of the other staff members was inquiring about one of my kids’ heritage and gave us the break down. 1/2 Japanese, 1/4 Puerto Rican and 1/4 Black. Wait, what? You’re last name is hispanic and you’re from L.A. and you’re not just Latino? Oh shit!

Later on, one of my kids from Japan told me he was half “american” but I had no clue of what that meant. Until yesterday for the cross-dressing event when he lent his clothes to a girl so that she could be “ghetto” (in quotes for a reason, mind you). He was elected the member of the group to have the most relevant clothes for such a challenge. Now this student is noticeably darker than the rest of his other friends from Japan.

So is there a reason they think you’re the ‘hood’ inspiration? Are you a Japanese gangster and I don’t know it?

I’m half black!

Huh?

Yeah, you didn’t know?

No, I thought you looked a little different but I didn’t really know how I could ask you that.

Yeah, I said I was half American before…

But that is so vague, you could be half ANYTHING.

Oh, so you’re Blasian?

No, I’m Blackanese

And honestly, I must say that everything now makes sense. His personality is so familiar yet so foreign and now I get it. The surname Lee was distracting, but now it just explains so much. And on that same night, another kid revealed his heritage.

“Canada,” government name: Robin, is a brownish colored kid from Canada. Creative name the kids here have given him. Anyway, I only recently discovered that they’ve also been calling him Drake. Mind you, he does NOT look like wheelchair Jimmy at all. But such are kids. He had previously mentioned that he was Indian which made sense given his last name. But today he proudly told me he was part black (because I give him shit about being from America’s hat).

Bam! His grandma is black, grandfather white and his father Indian. Or as he put it “My mom turned out white and my dad is Indian.” Flabbergasted (truly), and I called over Canada and the Blasian and forced them into a group hug (and picture) with me and D. Black solidarity. Long overdue.

It’s funny how trivial that incident seems but it actually did make me feel a lot better about the program, because at least there were more than just one black kid seeking academic achievement – half, quarter or whole.

So in total for those that haven’t been keeping count: 1 + 2 (1/4) + 1(1/2) = 2*! Granted it’s two of 115, but it’s something better than what I saw on day one.

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