Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: New Year (05/09/05)
TITLE: Go, M-A-D...this year?!
By Autumn Waldroup
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It started in elementary school. I determined to ensure that no other slightly horizontally challenged student would endure the humiliation of being last chosen during physical education class when Johnny Jock chose teams for the intramural games. Kids like Ann Marie Mentz, and me, although ignorant of the exact implication of “first down” and apathetic about who was “on first,” but could accurately diagram a sentence with fourteen prepositions and spell c-h-r-y-s-a-n-t-h-e-m-u-m would be treated fairly! But Johnny’s father, head coach of the varsity boy’s football team had championed the boys to the state playoffs, two years running, putting our little town on the map, so…I remained silent.
In Junior High when schools in my hometown were integrated and I became friends with beautiful people of color with whom I had not previously been acquainted, I learned words that were so hateful I did not know they could be spoken aloud. When I protested, accompanied to the principal’s office with my father, I learned that the voice of the students who said such things – if they were sons and daughters of the school superintendent - was tolerated. So I was silent.
In high school when I visited Mr. Roberts between classes to pick up completed college recommendation forms, he closed the office door and leaned in close to me whispering suggestive quotes from poet, DH Lawrence. I snatched the blank forms and walked out…saying nothing.
I had learned that silence would be rewarded while the voice of subversion would quickly bring trouble. Thus, conformist conduct took me easily through college, past professors promising extra points on tests in exchange for an afternoon study session, avoiding the protest of equal rights for gay and lesbian student groups, and tolerating the absence of even permissible student-lead prayers at homecoming games.
Today, I remain in the same small southern hometown where Johnny is now head coach of the local varsity football team and Mr. Roberts is school superintendent. Out of a hundred and twenty six certified schoolteachers in my county with a substantial minority population, two are African American. The Ten Commandment’s monument has long been removed from the courthouse lawn and I keep planning to attend the “prayer for community” group that Ann Marie invited me to, but first I have to drop off my kid at school, “Go Mad, Becky, I yell…go mad!
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