Directing students inside the Honors College doors, there she was again.
She seemed to know we were in for a treat as we rushed inside to join the festive literary conference.
“Welcome students; move quickly, we only have a number of seats left.”
I could smell her breath in passing as she continued to repeat herself to the others.
She had to be a republican.
She was white, about five/six in height, with yellow hair hanging from her big head.
It looked like she had used L’Oreal Blonde #7 far too many times.
Her lips were small, the nose pointed. We exchanged looks as I studied her badge walking through the doors.
She had a name, Dr. Ugly Professor.
The room was huge; there were many attending the event.
In the middle of the room, there was a dark purple tablecloth with hanging ruffles on this enormous table.
All of the food sat on top of it approximately at three-hundred & sixty-degrees.
It looked like a food empire colonized by chefs.
An abundance of cheeses brown, yellow, and orange was the first sight that caught my eye.
A glass bowl sat at the top of the edible colony with a blue substance rotating inside, circling around, back and forth.
Croissants, bagels, toasted crackers, and sandwiches were stacked up on top of each other, apples, oranges, pineapples with cups of dip sat next to the tray aligned in the center of the table.
Red tortilla chips, with pita pockets and a bowl of guacamole accompanied the arrangement.
It was a beautiful masterpiece.
My fingers were out in the air as though I was the deciding judge in a contest for best Free Food Displays, “Delicious! It is simply Delicious,” I said somewhat loud, standing next to Tameka.
Other students were looking around to find seats.
She whisper’s in my ear, “Do you really like Shakespeare and what is wrong with you girl saying delicious as though I know what you are talking about?”
“Girl please, you know I’m just taking that class to make sure Black folk are represented. I did like that play called Rape of Lucrece though. He got talent.” I said back.
Nudging my side Tameka seemed to be excited by our conversation. “You know what would really be cool is if we got a chance to study the play Black Girl, by J.E. Franklin. Girl, did you know that Ossie Davis produced it on Broadway!”
Rolling my eyes at her and forming my lips to retort, “Tameka thanks for informing me of the play. I am glad you always on top of things like that.
Seats became available.
We both turned around to look at who was who in the room one more time.
Dr. Ugly Professor made sure everyone saw her when she stormed through the doors.
She closed them from behind and walked straight up to the table.
I never understood why she walked up to it rather than joining the other professors talking in the corners of the room.
She just stood by the edible décor like she owned it, like it was hers, like if anyone came up and dared to touch anything on it she would tear in to them like the dog in the movie Kujo.
It felt like… I would have to fight for a sandwich.
She was staring in space while I continued to look at her physique.
“I hope my hair is still holding up. I think I may have to call Maggie and get her to cut this stuff.
I am just sick of looking like I am a lifeless creature. I have to get that spunk back that I had when I entered academia.
Oh! I had a shape.
Look at Melissa over there talking to Francisco Pachinko.
I looked better than her in my day.
He is my student, and no, you cannot have him.
That is right Francisco Pachinko push her away you have all the time in the world to date--to get a hard on.
Who does she think she is trying to take my Francisco Pachinko?
With that long hair hanging down her back, I could have done wonders with it.
She has to be a sophomore, Catholic and a member of Anglo Glo Gamma Rho...
Okay, maybe I am being a little harsh, but these young girls will do anything for these young boys.
Now what is that dark colored girl doing in here next to Melissa... I did not promote this event for them--I mean minorities.
Dammit’ I am assigning Plato’s Republic again!
They will have to write a race-relations paper on: Where do minorities fit in the Myth of Er.”
Why is this crazy white woman eyeing me down?
I mean who is she to be looking at me as if I was some pitiful site from the streets needing something to eat.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the program will begin shortly. The author’s plane came in a little late. Enjoy conversation with everyone in the room. We have refreshments in the center and you are all welcome to devour the beautiful arrangement sponsored by the Honors College,” Dean McWright said loudly on the sound speaker.
I was ready to eat, forget waiting on somebody for fifteen minutes.
Tameka came for the same reason, to eat.
“Remember that I have to leave early for my next class,” She said.
Tameka always had my back even if she had something else to do; she would make sure that she showed her support.
I am just glad that I was not the only Black girl in the room.
There was going to be a question and answer at the end of the symposium.
It never fails, when I go to events, I always end up having to speak for the Black race.
Today I was not speaking up; I was here to eat.
Tameka and I continued to talk, and I decided to get up, and join a conversation near the table of food.
The discussion was about the The Politics of Aristotle.
For a moment, I had to look at myself in the circle of white students who did not know my background, but always made sure that I knew theirs, they were from
the valley, this bayou, that port, the school.
“Hey Erika, How you doing,” Francisco asked, standing next to Melissa.
He was the tallest boy I had seen on campus.
Star of the basketball team, lover too many, he was what you would call a young man on the--rise.
Extending his hand out to touch another white girl next to me, Agnes, she asks, “Erika do you know that Aristotle and Plato differed on their ideologies of how the polis was comprised?”
I knew the damn answer. She was just trying to get some brownie points.
Plato in my opinion was just some crazy ass white philosopher, who got a check, to come up with some crazy rhetoric about a city that should only be for the good life.
I wonder if he knew Kanye West made a song about the polis.
And, to answer the question the polis was the afterlife!
Reverend Jackson at Ebenezer Baptist Church for the Living says that, “The reincarnation processes my people ain’t happening. Saints I say it ain’t happening! Seek the kingdom of heaven brothers and sisters and all will come to those who believe!”
He said this every Sunday.
I then began thinking about why this girl—white, kept tossing her hair as if lice were chilling on her scalp; and she wanted to scratch them out while still in this circle.
Why did they always have to be right and Black people wrong…?
“They always made me feel uncomfortable when it was time to enter the classroom.
I felt this way in the sixth grade too.
I still to this day remember when a white boy who had won the spelling bee three times in a row was beaten out by me...
His parents actually had the judges to rewind the videocassette of the performance to ensure that their son had spelled his assigned word wrong.
I was embarrassed, and thought from then on that I would have to prove myself when in their company.”
Francisco must have known I was in space thinking about something.
“Erika, don’t be upset by what Agnes asked you. I know who you are. We have been studying this 17th-18th century bull-shit far too long. You and I know what’s up,”
I was relieved, and glad that I did have one white homeboy.
Pacing around the floor Dr. Ugly Professor continued to stand by the table as though Jesus was coming to meet her for judgment day...
“I must make sure that my students are fed first. They are the ones that put this event together.
I asked the Dean to give me the menu to order the food. He insisted that one of the student workers would see to it that it was done. I didn’t argue with him.
I assured my students that they would eat before anybody else. I mean they deserve to eat first.
They are in the Honors College.
Unlike, the others who have came only because of extra credit and the free food.
I just do not understand why the brown kids or ones with a little color just don’t try as hard as we do.
They do not understand you must work, strive, and then work some more in order to be successful in this life.
I sometimes look at them—the others walk on campus and they just are so out of tune with what is happening around them.
I was am activist back in the day, but that all changed, when I saw that I would not be promoted to the position of vice-president because the African-American students were admitted in to the Honors College.
I just could not see why they were admitted; they were second-class.
I did what I had to do to get where I needed to be in order to have what I wanted.
Yes, I believe in democracy to a certain extent, and maintain a clean house, I do have children, and a husband who is on Viagra to keep our sex lives—alive.
It never really works--the sex.
I write this right now in my head because I cannot pick up a pen anymore to write out these thoughts that I feel when I look at them on this campus. I was one of them.”
A line began forming at the table.
“Tameka let’s go, they are moving quickly up there.” She did not look my way.
“You are not in my class, RIGHT,” Dr. Ugly said loudly.
I looked around to see who was behind me and I was the only Black girl in the line.
I continued to stand in the line.
“Hey you in the blue shirt, did you not here me?” She stated again.
I stood there stunned for a moment, not knowing what to do… she stared at me with her mean eyes.
I continued to look around at all of my peers in shock by the tone of her voice.
I had the blue shirt on.
She was talking to me.
“These sandwiches are for my students, and they were supposed to eat first; don’t you see the sign.” She continued ranting.
There was no sign, only a table in the center of the room that was supposedly available to everyone.
“You don’t have to talk to me like that, and if I wasn’t supposed to eat, then there should have been a sign stating so from the get go!” I was loud.
Where was Tameka?
My voice went up three octaves, and it is high-pitched already.
The table was there for me.
I was a part of this event too.
I read Shakespeare…
“If my grandmother were still here she probably would have skinned me alive for talking back to Dr. Ugly.
However, I think that in this situation and the circumstances she may have laughed a little.
It was quite simple, I was not going to let no white woman punk me in front of anybody.
I am sick of having to deal with professors who act as if they are better than the students. And, white women really get on my nerves.
I cannot stand the fact that I was invited to this dumb event and then here we go again another moment in which I have to be Black and show my attitude.
There is no way that I’m going to let her stop me from eating today.”
The sandwiches looked so fresh and ready to eat, like the ones you can buy at 7-Eleven around the corner from my godmother’s house--prepackaged.
It was like a moment at the Oscars.
I picked up a plate and the tuna on rye; it was a beautiful trophy.
The sandwich now on my plate, the strands of lettuce, sliced cucumber, and the strings of carrots were easing from under the bread.
The room became dim; the spotlight was on Dr. Ugly Professor, the spotlight was on my arm.
I picked up the sandwich again, “Don’t you do it Erika!” I heard my grandmother say in my mind.
Honestly, I forgot that I had even heard her voice.
“Did you just see that sandwich fly in Doc’s face?”
“Oh! My God, she’s finally been hit!”
“We have to move back from them, they might start fighting now!”
Students were scrambling to get away from the award-winning moment and kept screaming “Did you just see that sandwich fly in Doc’s face?”.
Dr. Ugly Professor’s glasses were hanging off her nose like the knowledge she kept harbored in her big head, never wanting to disperse in order to gain.
The cucumbers, carrots, and cheese had landed all in her hair.
She stood lifeless as she had for so many years not wanting to get the things on her chest—off.
I know you may think this has to be fairytale; but I did actually just walk away from the scene.
I went back to my seat and sat down; my friend’s eyes were huge.
“What just happened; did you just throw a sandwich in that woman’s face—for real?
Are you okay, did you know that we both could be kicked out of school? Erika, I am on scholarship. You know you are on your own this time. I have to leave.” Tameka looked disgusted with me as she walked out the doors.
As I sat, down and tried to calm my nerves...
There she was again.
She walked up to me and bent down in front of my face pulled her glasses down, looking all greasy, “Do you know who I am; my name is Dr.!”
I could not believe that her face was so close to mine, as though spit from her mouth would have landed on me.
Looking straight in those mean eyes, I proclaimed that I too knew my name, “Well, my name is Erika KING!”
Easing back, trying to get her composure from the entire ordeal, Dr. Ugly Professor, stands up straight and pats her chest.
It looked like the woman was about to have a heart attack.
I was scared.
She then received some miracle from afar, once again, and said, “I’m going to go get the Dean.”
I replied, “And your point is?”
“You devilish little prick! This is why we never invite your people to our events. You just have no manners, no morals, or ethics about yourselves!” It was the Dr.’s defining moment at the Oscars.
The erratic woman turned around then proceeded to walk out the doors straight in to the Dean’s office.
I looked around and everyone was looking at me as though I had the stage to myself and was waiting for the next scene to jump off... I had to get out of here.
One man was holding his cup of something, and dropped it when I passed by him.
I believe he wanted my autograph.
I walked out and began saying to myself…
“Erika you were invited to this event, don’t you dare walk out!”
Turning around, taking each step slowly, I got to the last one, said a prayer to GOD...
My answer came, and then I decided to go speak with the Dean.
Dr. Ugly Professor was in the doorway as I walked up. Screaming at the top of her lungs, “Susan, I just don’t understand why you can’t do something about that girl!
She threw a sandwich in my face. I mean for the love of GOD she should be expelled from this university indefinitely!”
“Dr... I don’t have any jurisdiction to expel anyone from the university and furthermore I think it just may have been appropriate!” The Dean was serious.
I thought... “I’m a part of the Honors College, seems funny.”
Moving back from the door she almost brushed into me.
She noticed someone was there...
Dr. Ugly Professor’s face turned red as Flaming Hot Cheetos when she saw my face.
“I’m talking to the Dean!” She slammed the door.
The wind from the door, made me feel like that moment again...
“And the winner of this year’s Tom C. Gooch Spelling Bee is Erika King!”
The crowd screams, “Go Erika! Go Erika!”
“No, No, No, No she is not the winner! Judge, Judge!” A man dressed in a green suit says aloud.
That is Stephen’s dad, why is he so upset as I look out in to the crowd.
“She is not the winner! My son won fair and square!”
Why is he jumping out of his seat, making his way to the stage?
Why is everyone looking at them crazy and not saying my name anymore?”
The door opened, Dr. Ugly Professor eases out and says ever so properly “Dean, I just want someone to back me.”
She walked out.
I walked in.
“Erika, have a seat.” The Dean smiled.
She held her head down, when I sat down.
It hurt her too, that I was not able to eat it.
… I saw it in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry; this should have not happened. If you want to go eat; you can,” she said to me.
The words almost were about to come out my mouth in response, “De…”
The door opened instantly!
You guessed it; Dr. Ugly Professor had something else to say.
She did not say excuse me, may I step in, she just bent down again in my face, and said, “I’m really sorry sweetie. Hun, this will all work out.”
I turned my head and looked at the Dean in disgust.
Dr. Ugly Professor removed herself from the conversation, again.
Stunned, in disbelief
White, a woman, the same age,
Just two notches above the professor
In rank, sitting in a cushioned chair,
With a glass window that looks over the
Sam Houston Library for White People
Looks at me and says again, “Erika, I’m sorry.”
I respond: Holla.Black!
By kYmberly Keeton©