Liberal Academia: A How-to
cover image: kerry james marshall, “Portrait of a Curator (In Memory of Beryl Wright),” 2009
Liberal Academia: A How-to
When she says “I’ve never sucked a black d**k before.” You’ll soon feel almost as guilty as you are immediately offended. Offended because the sentiment is absolutely racist. She, a girl you won’t have known for more than just a couple hours will say this through a triumphant smirk, as though inner determination and better judgment had conquered second-thoughts and she was now to be rewarded for working up the nerve to deliver such a winning sentiment. “What is she expecting?” you’ll promptly think to yourself, “some kind of Mandingo sex adventure?” These thoughts will linger as you leave her, making a hasty retreat not because what she said is racist, but because the involuntary erection might make her feel as though she has license to say it. Your body won’t know when it’s being hyper-sexualized—this is why you feel guilty.
Your new roommate will say “and you didn’t sleep with her?”
Your best friend will say “no f*****g way, I’m totally with you—that’s absolutely inappropriate.”
Sometime after he’ll say “that was her? F**k. I mean, she could have said worse, right?”
You’ll begin to contemplate whether or not preserving your dignity will have been worth missing out on hooking up with someone so objectively attractive. You’ll resolve that it will have been, ruling that they can’t all be like this, and soon you’ll forget the whole ordeal.
It’ll take time to adjust to the environment. No one looks like you, no uses the same slang. You’re bad with names and the people you meet will look so similar to you that somehow, Ethan and David are in all you’re classes, live next door, and are the same two individuals whom drunkenly greet you with “Ayyye wassup nigga?” one late Saturday night—but you’ll be pretty certain you haven’t met that Ethan and David, even more certain that they aren’t your ‘niggas,’ nor are you theirs.
You’re roommate will ask you if you mind “black-jokes” but you’ll decline to answer or pretend to not hear the question, assuming your silence will speak volumes, but really because you will be unsure about how to tackle the question. Your silence won’t speak volumes. Your silence will be inviting. He’ll tell his first joke at your expense while his friends are visiting the room. In your immediate riposte, your silence will finally speak volumes. He and his friends will later describe them to each other as angry, black volumes - but volumes nonetheless.
Your dad will say “This is the best package you got, so either give yourself some more time to adjust and learn to like it, or find somewhere even cheaper.”
Your mom will say “It’s okay honey. New environment - it will take some more time.”
You’ll join the black student group on campus. Your advisor will have suggested it. At the first meeting you’ll remark to yourself how you haven’t have seen so many people who look like you in one room since you left home. You’ll introduce yourself to Jamal, Corey will be in your statistics class, and Justin will live down the hall from you.
Corey will ask “You don’t hoop? Like, at all?”
Justin will ask “Why do you talk so white?”
Some of those you meet in the black student group will find you strange.
Your class will spend an afternoon discussing racism in the criminal justice system. Your professor will ask you about how people in “your community” generally feel about how racial discrimination manifests itself through higher incarceration rates. You won’t know the answer because you will not have surveyed all in “your community”. You’ll tell your professor this. In an e-mail warning you about your number of absences she’ll make brief mention about the way you undermine her in class.
You’ll secure a work-study job. You’re new co-worker, whom you will have never met before, will greet you as “Tyreeq” when you come into work on the first day. She will apologize for mistaking you for the only other person who looks like you on the staff. You’ll be highly offended, despite not knowing if the other guys on the staff are named Ethan, David, or Ethan and David, or just guys whom only look like Ethan. Or David. But probably Ethan.
You’ll see that girl who has never sucked black dick before again at a frat party. You’ll dance together. You’ll wonder if she’d sucked a black dick since you last spoke. You’ll wonder what her approach would have been if your dick wasn’t black. You’ll almost ask her those very questions before you leave her room the next morning.
Your best friend will say, “Can’t blame you.”