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I walked home after a long day of nothing. I looked at the poorly paved ground and then to my right. A man was blowing leaves into a neatly stacked pile. I smiled when he caught my eye and continued walking. An earlier confrontation of that same day was brought to the forefront of my thoughts.

“All these people from other countries are coming to America nowadays. How are they all supposed to find a place to live?” A simple curious question nothing more. “America is crowded enough as is”. An ignorant statement, let it pass. “And they're barely enough jobs for them to sustain themselves on.” Concern or contempt? “There's a lot of hardworking Americans out of jobs right now.” So what was his point? I hoped this wasn't leading where I thought it might be. “ Jobs should be reserved for only Americans in need.” Education time.

“ Did you know that most jobs that these non-Americans take up are the ones that many Americans would rather not be doing themselves?” I quipped in. This man in front of me, who also happened to be my teacher, turned towards me in surprise. My gaze fell on him in a slightly condescending manner. Certainly my respect for him had lowered somewhat after his incompetent lecture to no one in particular. So why did I care if this man was saying potentially offensive things about people who came into this country with goals and dreams in mind, and were most likely looking to support their families back home? I wasn't a Saint, yet I knew when exactly someone was being ethnocentric. Not so much because they didn't know what they were talking about, and they didn't, but because they felt entitled. Another way of placing your needs and desires before someone else without any given consideration. False sense of pride. “You know Mr. Prunell, many immigrants work pretty hard at their jobs. They are willing and maybe even more hardworking than these so much more deserving Americans you speak of.” I still did not get an answer from him. He was probably too surprised at the fact that I actually overheard his words of credulous wisdom, and now, his own student was giving him a lesson. With another disapproving look at him, I left the room, but not before jovially saying, have an enriching rest of your day Mr. Prunell.

The next day in class, Mr. Prunell's class to be exact, we were discussing the topic of abuse between spouses. “Unless you like being abused then staying in an abusive relationship is just kinda stupid.” said one boy. The class laughed. I didn't. It's so easy for people to assume that, yes, there is no other reason to stay in abusive relationships. At least easy for people who cannot fathom attempting to see through another person's eyes. I guess you could say I could feel the pain of other people. Granted, I didn't go bawling my eyes out senseless if someone's grandmother died, but I could still feel the loss almost as if it was my own. So that's why I said what I did next.

“Yea”, I chuckled darkly. “I guess you'd have to be a masochist to enjoy something like that.” Some people stared at me questioningly while others thoughtfully wondered what a masochist was. “Do you think it's possible to love someone so much, that you'd stay with them no matter what they did to you?” This was a question not for the stubborn “no way never fools”, but for those who knew that love sometimes meant enabling others into destructive behaviors. Would you always have the power to stop the ones you could look in the eye, share a deep kiss with passionately, or promise you'll stay with them until the end? If this person started to show a more violent side of themselves to you suddenly, then would you simply leave them behind at the first warning? Or would you, like many others have, hope that they change like they say they will? Wouldn't you continue to hope for that change even though deep down you know it probably won't happen.? I think many of you would. Love is sometimes a weakening solution. Our reasoning and judgment can be watered down by it. A silence of minds churning the speech over could be unheard all throughout the room.

Friday. Our warm-up was to write what we thought of “politically correct”. This one was easy. The class shared their thoughts in turn. Most people simply said the government-given definition of the term. Three more students before me. Two more. One more. My turn. I was itching to say what I thought of it. Think me critical, and yes I am. This brainwashed society needs to exposed in my opinion. “Sadie, what was your answer to the warm-up?” asked my teacher. His eyes stared at me a little bit too intensely for my liking. I, nonetheless, continued. “ What the government calls politically correct, as a matter-of-fact, is actually equivalent to being altogether inaccurate. I stated it like a fact. According to the useless race/ethnicity sheet, for example, someone from my mother's country in South America is African American, that term being inaccurate in itself as well. However, if the government actually did it's research then they would know that about half the population in Guyana is of East Indian descent. Overall they are just plain West Indian as people in the West Indies should be called.” I finished my short rant. But out of nowhere I was challenged.

“Sadie what do you think of statistics?” asked Mr. Prunell with a disturbing glint in his eye.

“Also crap,” I responded easily. “What's the use of knowing, for instance, more women go to college than men or more “Asians” do the best academically in school?” I didn't hesitate to say. It wasn't a rhetorical question, but I scarcely ever found an answer for that one. You tell me.

Mr. Prunell, I noticed, had his eyes on me the whole time. I didn't back down from his stare, but I refused to return it. My expectations of him were tarnished the other day. Teachers to me, were rather knowledgeable people and I respected them in the utmost way, but we all had our flaws I supposed. Blatant ignorance just happened to be Mr. Prunell's. The bell rang. Class was over. Another stirring eulogy had been passed forth from my lips. Everyone out the door. Almost. Then I heard it, the voice that was not a lullaby nor a sweet operatic note to my ear.

“Ms. Frazett, I would like a word,” came the authoritative voice of Mr. Prunell. I turned to see him fingering me to come towards him, as if I was a child in trouble.

“Yes?” I asked simply, no hint of disinterest or distaste.

“I never, knew you were so insightful Sadie.”

“With all due respect sir, I'm afraid you don't know me well enough personally to make any assumptions of my character.” I responded, eyes neutral, tone neutral.

“Fair enough.” he admitted. It was the end of the school day and I walked home so I didn't mind the hold-up so much. “Listen you, I'm your teacher, and I don't appreciate this condescending robotic tone you're using.”

I felt a rush of mixed astonishment at his sudden harshness and annoyance at his immaturity.

“Mr. Prunell if you don't mind, I have some work I would like to catch up on.” I turned to leave.

“You think you have all the answers don't you?” he huffed. I stopped my left foot from taking another step forward, and my right foot from following it. This time I decided not to hide my irritation.

“If I knew all the answers, then I wouldn't even bother being in your class sir or any other class for that matter. I just refuse to take anything I hear from any old textbook, the government or wise old man to be the whole truth and nothin' but the truth. That's the difference between me and my classmates. I'm not so pedantic. Yeah the government's the government, but if it were really that agreeable, we may as well chuck the voting system. Academics are nice, but there's so much more to life than having the highest grades, and it would be narrow-minded of me to think myself the smartest person or anyone else for that matter just because I can play this game called school right. Curriculum is easy learning, life is harder. And I'd take knowing how society works over “the answer to number 1 is c” any day.” This conversation was over. Before exiting the door, I made one last remark.

“ Maybe my beliefs are too idealistic for some people's taste. Treat others the way you want to be treated. It's so simple, but it's something that people only idealize and do not follow. I truly believe I do, and if not one-hundred percent than at least ninety-nine. If you were an immigrant wouldn't you want the Americans to accept you and not accuse you of stealing their jobs when all you want to do is support your family? If you were in an abusive relationship with someone whom you promised to love forever, could you so easily turn the other cheek and leave everything behind with them, including your children, and start an entire custody battle with them? If your statistic said that those of you categorized in that same group were liable to steal merely because of the color of your skin would you see it as valuable information to know or is it just profiling while others of a different color can slip by unnoticed. I realize that I might just come off as someone who thinks they know the whole game. But at the same time.....it's because I don't know the whole game, that I try to understand.

Monday came again. Mr. Prunell stepped up to the board. I was taking out my stuff, not exactly wanting to look at him. “Class, what is the Golden Rule.” My ears perked and I slowly looked up. A thought I saw a hint of a smile of Mr.Prunell's face.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” said almost half the class in unison.

“Now, what do you all really think that rule means?” Heads turned to my location, expectant eyes waiting. I could have laughed.




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HinaHinaYukai said...
Oct. 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm:
Whoa, girl, you're hardcore! I would never have had the guts to say half the things you did to an adult. What confidence! I wish I could be as brave as you are. 
 
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