Dream of: 16 July 1986 "Statements Of A Black Woman"

Some other students and I walked into what appeared to be a college English class and we sat down. The classroom resembled the one in which I had studied Geometry in the tenth grade at Portsmouth High School. The class was being taught be a young woman (probably in her early 20s). Several weeks earlier, she had given the students an assignment to write a paper analyzing some statements which had been made by a black woman.

The teacher said she believed we had some papers to hand in to her. As far as I knew, she hadn't told us we would have to hand in the paper today, and—even though I had written my paper quite a while ago and had put the completed paper in a notebook—I hadn't brought mine with me.

The other students passed in their papers and the teacher began going through them. I continued searching through a notebook for my paper. I found several papers which I had previously written for which I had received A's and B's; but I couldn't find the paper now due.

The teacher asked if anyone in the room had not turned in a paper. Three people, including myself, raised their hands. I was sitting in about the third chair from the front, in a row of chairs on the left side of the room (from my perspective). On the right side of the room, one of the students who had raised his hand was Austin (with whom I first came in contact in 1964 when we were both in the seventh grade). The teacher (now a man probably in his early 40s) gruffly asked Austin why he hadn't turned in his paper.

Austin stood up and stated that he had written a book and he hadn't had time to write the paper. Carrying his book with him, Austin walked to the front of the class. He had curly black hair and was a rather imposing figure. I knew Austin was going to go to law school, but I didn't know whether he had yet become a lawyer.

Austin was wearing an earring in his right ear. How would I look with an earring? Probably too feminine because my hair was rather long. I rather liked the idea of having an earring, but an earring would look better on a man with short hair.

Austin's book had a hardcover; apparently it had just been published. Austin opened the book to the table of contents, which displayed the names of different people. The book consisted of a group of little stories about various people whom Austin had known during his life. My name wasn't there—I didn't expect it to be there. Austin had associated with a rather exclusive set of people—I hadn't distinguished myself enough to belong to his crowd, so I wasn't surprised that I wasn't included in his book.

The book also had a page with pictures of different people who appeared in the book. Duff (with whom I first came in contact in 1964 when we were both in the seventh grade) and Sally (with whom I first came in contact in 1967 when we were in the tenth grade together) were pictured.

The book covered the same theme as the paper we had been supposed to write. Austin said he didn't want to be graded for the paper because he thought the paper was the kind of infantile task which might be assigned in a high school class. I clapped my hands and shouted, "Bravo." A black girl probably in her early 20s (the third person who hadn't handed in a paper) also clapped her hands.

Austin handed the book to the teacher and returned to his seat. The teacher first looked at the book, then asked for the people who had clapped their hands to say what they thought about the matter. The girl who had clapped said she felt the same way as Austin: the paper was silly and therefore she hadn't written it. The teacher asked her what she was planning to do. She said she might just drop out of school and get a job somewhere.

The teacher asked me what I thought. I told him I had been thinking about dropping out of school. Some people in the room gasped in disbelief. I told the teacher I didn't think this type of class developed my mental capacities. I said the teacher's attention had been focused out here in some vague substratum and hadn't been directed at me personally; with about 30 people in the class, nobody really received much attention. I ended by saying, "This is especially true because of you, because you are not a good teacher."

I pointed right at the teacher and stopped. I felt good for having said what I did; but I thought the teacher would probably somehow avenge himself later.

My hair was rather long and I hadn't been a particularly good student in the class. Some people here thought I was rather stupid because of that; but I hadn't been a good student because I didn't care about this class; my abilities weren't being developed here. It seemed best to drop out.

I realized I was in high school and that later in life I would go on to law school. But at the present, no one realized I had certain potentials; I was therefore stuck in a place I didn't feel good about.

The class ended. We all rose and began filing out. I heard Austin talking to someone about how he had just had his book published.

Clifford (with whom I first came in contact in 1964 when we attended the seventh grade together) and Peggy (with whom I first came in contact in 1964 when we attebded the seventh grade together)were in the line leaving the classroom. When Clifford broke off from the line, I asked him if he were going out to the car. Maybe my paper was in the car. I might sneak away from the line of students and go with him to the car to get it. Clifford, however, was going somewhere else. I decided I would just stay in the line and try to go to the car when the line filed outside.

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