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Stigma

In: Social Issues

Submitted By thecrosslife17
Words 2268
Pages 10
I am a crip. From the navy blue bandana on my head, to the crispy Chuck Taylors on my feet. This is the life that I live by night. My family’s reputation gives me no choice. Either the truth about me is revealed and I am discredited(pg. 4), or I live a life of hypocrisy. My father is a deacon in the church, my mother -- a Sunday school teacher, my sister, the youth president, and my brother an usher. As for me, well, I’m in the choir. I can’t sing extremely well, but well enough to receive a courtesy stigma by members of my church because every other member of my family played an impactful role, and the church itself was founded in our living room. They feel indebted so of course I was “a young anointed boy with the potential to “lead” many people to Christ.” At least, that’s what they say. My gangster family and my biological family could never learn of each other, so I had no choice but to become a master of information control. Back on the West Side, on 2nd Ave & 48th street I’m breaking down weed in my brand new grinder at 7: 15 am. The big yellow school bus should be here by 7:30, that gives me enough time to break it down and put it in the baggies to make sales throughout the school day. I go to Palisades Charter High school, in other words one of the predominantly white schools in Los Angeles County. Its no question, my parents want me out the hood, little did they know they couldn’t take the hood out of me. I put a glob of hair grease in my hair and spray a tremendous amount of axe on my palms and rub my body to mask the scent of the anointing oil my parents made me put on my head every morning after our family prayers. That hair grease and Axe is my ritual act of covering. Today, just like every other day I along with my “brothers” sat in the back of the bus. Between the regular black kids, and us was always an empty row or two. To the white kids, they saw all black kids as the same, but after today we made sure that would definitely change. What is today? Today is April 10th, or as we call it “hood day”.
“Four ten”, we said to one another, while we intertwine fingers in our visually complicated handshakes.
Every year, on April 10th , every member of Rollin’ 40’s Neighborhood Crips would go out and be absolutely notorious on that day. As I stare out the bus window, hearing the friction of the plastic from the bags of weed we were preparing, I thought about how just last year I was in awe of the very people I now call my brothers. Now I am one of them, and this navy blue bandana wrapped around my head is my status symbol. Anyone with eyes knows exactly what it means when they see it. They look but don’t stare; at least they think they don’t. The bus finally comes to a stop after what seems like the longest bus ride in history. All of the kids get off the bus and walk up the hill toward the school. But we, the crips, we walk down the hill, into the alley—its time to take our daily dose. We talked on and on about how belligerent we would be today, as we passed about blunts and pipes. I’m high now. I have nostalgic feeling about being high. I get to lose myself in the persona of a certified crip, but when I entertain the slightest thoughts about church or heaven and hell I get sick to my stomach in fear. I hate it. The bell rings, students rush pass me in order to get to class on time to avoid getting caught in tardy sweeps that will consequently result in detention. However I, walk slowly taking each step one foot at a time. I take brief glances at the faces of the determined students. All they wanted to do was get to class and be good kids, without a doubt in mind they were the normals. Even amongst the gang, I wasn’t like them, I had a conscience. I had a loving and caring family, none of my siblings had ever been shot, my dad wasn’t in prison, he was a Nigerian immigrant. Even amongst the deviants I wasn’t normal. The fact that I was consciously aware enough to even think this way deeply bothered me. Thankfully, the time had come to suppress these thoughts the best way I knew how—chaos. I strolled superfluously into Mr. Schlangers English class, he hated me and I loved it.
“Alright class, today we are going to read from where we left off last week. I don’t want to hear any talking besides the person reading. That includes you.” He says as he points sternly at me. That was it. That was the motivation that I needed to cook up disruption. I went into my backpack and pulled out paper and a pen and wrote “Everybody drop yo pen/pencil at 8:45 a.m., pass it down.” I gave it to the kid in front of me, he read it, chuckled, and shook his head in affirmation. This pattern repeated until I was sure that everyone read it. To my surprise we were all discreet enough and Mr. Schlanger hadn’t seen the note. It was 8:44 according to the clock in the center of the class, I cleared my throat a couple of times to get the attention of the students in the class to let them know that the appointed time has almost come. In a class of about 40 students, the anticipation of the sound piercing the silent room had built to its peak. There was 5 seconds left—“Four. Three. Two. “ The sound was indescribable, it reminded me of sudden heavy rain, like the room suddenly had turrets. Mr. Schlanger shot up from his chair; his white face became tomato red almost instantly. His hands were trembling. The class watched him try and gather his composure. His heavy breathing slowed down; he then lifted his eyes and yelled,
“Who is responsible for this?”
“The crip did it.” I said as I proudly raised my hand, with the biggest smirk on my face. I thought it would be better to say what they all knew about me, a little tension management was just what the situation needed to be one of the best stories I ever told.
“Get out. Get out Get out of my class you delinquent! Go straight to the deans office!” He told me to go to the dean’s office, so I took my backpack left the classroom and walked around until it was time for our nutrition break. So just like every other day, I met up with my brothers behind the basketball courts. I recounted to them my story of what happened in Mr. Schlangers class and they laughed hysterically and shook my hand the “Neighborhood” way to show approval of what I had done. As we are proudly laughing at how the hood day as started out with great success, Bryant Greene, whom we call G.B runs over to us panting.
“Whats good bro?” we ask curiously.
“Ronnie [one of us] fighting right now” he responded. That was it, preperation and anticipation had met opportunity. We didn’t need to cook up anything to be wild the opportunity presented it self. We had a rule that we followed faithfully ,and it says : “There is no such thing as a fair fight, if one fights we all fight.” And that’s exactly what we did. As Ronnie led the way, all 5 of us ran half way through the school ready to hurt someone. I looked around as I ran, we were one I thought to myself. I also felt sorry for what was about to happen to the kid, but I shrugged it off. We could see the crowd of students that had gathered in the distance, we raced towards it desperately. Suprisingly the crowd made way for us, and me being the fastest reached the fight first. I swung my hand back and punched that kid in the side of his head as hard as I could. He dropped to the floor, we were all there now stomping and kicking him. I saw the looks on my brothers faces, they were enjoying it, far more than I seemed to be. It upset me that I wasn’t getting the satisfacton that they were getting. It really upset me, that all I could hear in my head was my pastors sermon from a few months ago in which he pointed out that we should “turn the other cheek.” I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t know what to do with my anger. “I am crip. I am crip. I am a fucking crip. “ I got angrier everytime I said it because a part of me would respond no youre not. Before I knew It I had shoved my brothers out of the way, stood over the kid whose eyes lit up when he saw me, and punched him in the face over and over. I couldn’t stop, tears rolled down his face, they rolled down mine too. I was yanked from behind, by Dean Watson, I knew it was him, I could recognize the smell of his cheap cologne anywhere. I took a look around, and as I hoped all my brothers had fled the scene. I didn’t want them to get caught, I wanted to , I deserved it. I tried to put my hands in my pocket, I was stopped by a stinging pain I felt coming from my knuckles. I looked at my knuckles, they were swollen and covered with cuts, my shirt was stained with blood. As I was escorted to the deans office the students stared at me, they didn’t look away like they usually did. For those who were for any reason unsure who I was, I had an actual identity now. Even if they didn’t know me as a crip, they knew that I was the black kid that beat a student beyond recognition. “Alright Mezu you know the deal, this is your second violation of the schools behavioral contract. I told you the last time you were in here, that the next time you get sent to the deans office you will be expelled. “ After he said the word expelled I thought about what my family would think. Up until this point I had somehow managed to handle all disciplinary actions against me without my parents ever being notified. I had always gave them the wrong number or deleted the message in the answering machine. I always lucked out, but this time—this time luck couldn’t save me. Its school policy that a student that is expelled MUST be picked up by a parent or guardian. The dean called my father and told him that I along with other members of a gang, beat a student who is now at the hospital as a result of loosing a dangerous amount of blood. He went on to say that I was expelled because of my actions and I needed to be picked up immediately. The whole time I was in the office I didn’t say a word. I sat there and thought about what my family will do know that they know who I am. As my father walked in the building I saw the stares he got from the other students and staff. He too received a courtesy stigma they attributed my behavior to his assumed poor parenting. I didn’t like that he got looked rudely because of my stigma. So I took off my bandana and put it in my backpack. I was happy to see a hoodie in my backpack;the Palisades High School Basketball Team logo was on it. I wore it over my blood stained shirt, with the hood on and squeezed tightly over my face. The inability to see my face through the hod and the logo worked well to serve as a disidentifier. I put my hands in my pockets even though it hurt. I needed to use covering so that I could pass for a student that was sick and needed to get picked up early or something. I needed to pass for anything that would give me a virtual social identity (pg. 2). I coulnt witness the way people looked at my father when they knew it was me he was walking with. We sat in the car, in dead silence. I know what the dean told him, but I didn’t how much of the truth of my life I was willing to share. I live a life of constant dissatisfaction. I cant enjoy God and what he brings because a crip is in me. I cant enjoy being a crip and what that life brings beause God is in me. “The issue is not that of managing tension…but rather that of managing information…” (pg 42). “To tell or not to tell;…to lie or not to lie…”(pg. 42) I live a life of constant dissatisfaction. I cant enjoy God and what he brings because a crip is in me. I cant enjoy being a crip and what that life brings beause God is in me.

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