I wanted to document this day as a matter of official record. Today was so disturbing I felt compelled to make this public if I am wrong I am wrong and I plan on being wrong, a rare occasion.
Today I was at Overton High School the most diverse school in the most wealthiest neighborhood in Nashville. It sits next door or should I say in between the most expensive and exclusive schools in the area - Franklin Road Academy and Father Ryan. FRA is 20K to just walk in the door and is Christian as you get. Father Ryan is as Catholic and apparently the place to go when you want good drugs. Good to know. But Overton is fraught with gangs, it had a fight so severe the day before the Thanksgiving break 14 students were arrested. A football game was stopped because a fight broke out on the field and the game was called and not one Administrator was present to monitor said game. Then when I was there the last time a fight broke out and a kid had a seizure and was taken to the hospital. And those are just the incidents I know of so when I go to this school I go on high alert.
Today a cluster of boys were outside my room. I asked them to leave and one intentionally put his foot to block the closing the door, I finally asked him to move his foot so I could shut the door and have my lunch and they laughed outrageously and hysterically as if this was something that had never been done before and then he finally did. I did not care I just wanted them to go. Angry no, afraid yes. I am sure they were hoping I was angry as yes this is a standard Latino male thing I have come to expect. Young Latino males here seem intent on riling up white women it gives them odd satisfaction. Not the first time I have seen nor likely the last. And if that is racist then I am racist. But I don't think that about all Latin boys being like this just the ones I have encountered in Nashville, as people here are like nothing or anyone I have ever encountered before.
Then we have the class that followed lunch and the cluster of 5 boys and one girl. They were all mixed in races and I suspect were 14 or 15 and were so utterly bizarre at some point I thought they would get bored and shut the fuck up. But no they spent the entire class time having a conversation that was both disturbing and disgusting. However the whole reason for this post was the part of that convo that was disturbing and that was the talk about killing their English Teacher but they felt Math Teachers were a given. They then launched into a discussion about sex which included rape and what defines it, and then they went on with homophobic remarks that seemed to go on forever. I finally asked a quiet gal if they were just weird or just like this stupid always. She concluded they were both but that no one pays them any attention. That just may be the problem. Thankfully the period ended and the Teacher who came in earlier to use the coffee maker was someone I thought I should touch base on what I just heard for feedback with regards to this. He had not spoken to me during our first encounter and so I expected little this time but I had to ask. Well waste.of.time. This man's first question: What race were they?
Okay what the fuck has that got to do with it? The content of the talk was more important. But no here we go what is the color. The gang fights that dominate there are between the Kurdish Pride gang and the Latinos, and again that is that macho thing I have seen here and a need for dominance between the lowest tier of ethnicity's here. First White, then Black, African, then Asian (few and far between), Latino, Kurdish, and other Arabic/Middle Easterners. I suspect that the groups struggle to get to the upper tiers to the point that the children take out their aggression and anger on anyone they see blocks that mobility.
I said they were actually quite a diverse group many shades of brown, no black kids but a white dude as well as a girl thrown in for good measure. He then responds that the kids of this school are not like that and did I have names. ( I did not tell him to the contrary but whatever) Nope once that roster is gone its gone but I have no way of knowing names even with class lists as then I would have to ask them and that starts a confrontation right there as it is suspicious as to why I would want to know one particular name. And so he goes well without names you cannot do anything but kids are just like that. Not the first time I have heard that here as well when I complained about kids throwing things at me or stealing things from my desk. True to some of that but to be so dismissive is distressing. How about asking if I am okay and sadly apologize and provide me with comfort or consolation. But this is not the "Nashville Way." I informed him that I had taught and been in schools for 20 years and in Seattle if I heard any of this type of exchange I was to report it immediately but clearly I don't know the protocol in Nashville so never mind. He left the room as he came in oblivious and ignorant. Again this is an educator.
This is what I have learned in Nashville these past 18 months. No one wants to deal with anything challenging or difficult. The people are both patronizing and condescending and these reactions are utterly without merit as they are ill educated and largely educated in non-secular schools. And if they were educated in public schools, well nuff said. Being Heterosexual and Christian is all that matters and outsiders are looked upon with suspicion. Money is the true color that matters and violence solves crisis. This is city is light years from ever being A list and they compare themselves with Denver. Sure. Been to Denver, love Denver, this place no.
I truly believe these moronic children will do nothing. That is how they are here they never shut up. They have an inability to filter or just say nothing. Right after they left a young black girl walked in and said to her friend in full voice, "Oh look she looks like a bitch so I doubt this is happening." Then she walked up and asked for a pass to another room which given what I heard that was an easy yes. So as I wrote it out I thanked her for telling me I have resting bitch face as it might explain why kids are so nasty to me. She was amazed that I heard her, I saw her face go into shock and embarrassment, so I handed her the pass, told her to wait til after the tardy sweep and then go and have a nice day. I marked her here on the attendance and walked away. This again is not the first time I have heard young black women comment on my looks, clothes and speculate about me openly and within earshot as if I am either deaf or stupid. This is how I am in Nashville -invisible and disposable.
Today made me feel better however about my worries that I am a racist. After the asshole Teacher asked me what race were the kids I knew that I would not even go there. Race is like any identifiable characteristics and to me it is just a label or characteristic I use to clarify and distinguish kids . I go into each encounter with my past experiences tucked into my pocket and when something occurs that confirms or validates a previous experience it is noted but I don't keep tabs on who or what color is winning the race wars when it comes to hideous behavior. All of this is lumped into one category - living in Nashville - and this place is vile.
**ETA**Since I wrote this a local ed blogger Dad Gone Wild wrote a post "How Much Do We Really Care?" He addresses much of what I have been opining for quite some time on the state of the schools here. He is a relentless cheerleader, his wife is a Teacher here and is an advocate for many of the schools that deserves props. And while my experiences with many of the schools he cheers for it is admirable that he is willing to do so regardless.
And no they don't care here. They care about nothing other than money. Period. That is the color that rules the south - green. This place is where income inequity has had a 100 years, a Century, in which to build rage and that rage is finally on the last vessel of fossil fuels so thank you the South for Trump, he's vile.