Letter from Annapolis: Black on white harassment and violence.
I was in the 3rd grade when my family moved from Argentia, Newfoundland to Annapolis, MD. I had only seen one black person before in my life on a military base before that. In 3rd grade I don’t recall seeing any blacks. That changed in 4th grade when I was moved to another school. There was about a 30-40% population of blacks in the classrooms.
My 4th grade teacher sat the students at assigned group tables instead of desks. My table consisted of two black boys, two Jewish boys, a white boy and me. I was the only girl.
I was seated next to one of the black boys. Girls were required to wear skirts in those days. Soon after the start of the year the black boy next to me started reaching up my dress and grabbing my crotch under the table. His last name was Calhoun and everyone called him by that. He would say ‘give me some of that!’ And then ‘give me some of that p—-!’ and ‘give me a bite of that p—-!’ I was mortified.
I told him to stop repeatedly but to no avail. It just made him bolder. I had never even heard the term ‘p—-‘ before but it was obvious what he meant by it. After grabbing me he would put his hand up to his mouth and making loud slurping, eating noises. Everyone at the table knew what was going on. I looked desperately to the others at the table for support.
The other black boy would laugh as did the two Jewish boys. The other white boy was too terrified to say anything.
This went on for a few weeks. I would try and tell the teacher but was too humiliated and confused to give details. I simply said ‘Calhoun won’t leave me alone!’
She just laughed and said ‘oh yes, he will’ and left it at that. She was an idealistic white woman from Chicago fresh out of teaching school. She was clearly sold on the new ideal of a multicultural paradise.
I tried raising my hand and saying ‘Calhouns bothering me!’ She would look up briefly from her desk and say ‘Calhoun get back to work’ and that was it. He went right back to the molestation.
After a couple of weeks of me trying to handle it on my own I finally told my mother what was happening. She was furious and immediately marched into the principals office (an older black woman.) I was immediately reassigned to another table and the harassment ended. I believe the principal acted out of embarrassment.
Later that year I was late for school one day and was crossing the playground alone when I was suddenly surrounded by a group of 4-5 black boys who were all shouting vulgar things and reaching up my skirt. I was in tears and tried to ward them off but it lasted about 5-10 minutes then they finally ran off laughing and whooping it up.
Another time I went into the girls bathroom and was confronted by 3-4 black girls who surrounded me and started threatening to beat me up. They had me backed into a corner where there was a chair.
I think the only reason I didn’t get beat up that day was that I picked up the chair and used it as a shield until I could get past them and out of the door. As soon as it became clear I would defend myself and I had something to use as a weapon their demeanor changed. They started laughing and saying ‘oh we’re just kidding’ and ‘are you a lion tamer?’
The black kids in the school were always loud and shouting threats and insults against the white students. The white kids just wanted to get away from them as much as possible.
Savannah, GA 1970-1972: we moved when I was in 7th grade and I went to Windsor Forest 7-12 high school.
They had busing where a large @40% black population was bused into a white neighborhood. There were constant fights among the black students, threats and harassment of white students.
It was a loud, violent, scary place to be. The school had to shut down mid-day and send the students home 3-4 times/year due to the violence and tension that would build up. Whites would have to walk down the hallways and go to the bathroom in groups of 4-5 to avoid beating attacked by a group (any group of 3 or more) of black students.
The ceilings of the bathrooms in both schools were spackled with fist sized blobs of dried out toilet paper that had been thrown up on them wet and stuck there.
POST SCRIPT FROM THE VICTIM:
I had really come to believe this was a normal experience and had glossed over it.
I raised 4 kids and had never told them simply because we are in a (for now) majority White area.
They have no personal experience being around a large black population day after day. It was the Trayvon story and how the media covered it that started to awaken those memories.
Your writings as well helped me to come to terms. I checked our local library to see if they have your book with the intention of requesting they order it. Someone else beat me to it though.
Side note: when I recently told my 16 yo daughter about it she refused to believe me! It was so shocking to her she actually accused me of making it up!