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Going to School in Harm City
Doris Recounts Her First Day in a Desegregated Baltimore City High School, Circa 1978
© 2016 James LaFond
My older sister didn’t go to school with blacks, so there was no one to tell me what it would be like. In my first period, on the first day, in homeroom class, this tall black kid sat next to me. I was uncomfortable, having a hard time concentrating on the teacher, because I could tell—out of the corner of my eye—that he was staring at me, not even looking at the teacher.
I put my hand up next to me eye and just looked straight ahead, trying to pay attention to the teacher.
After a while he pulled my hand down [he was seated to her left], which got me angry. When I turned to look at him he had this long, stupid grin on his face, his pants were down around his knees under his desk [open, one piece desk-chairs] and he was masturbating, going at it—had even brought lubricant to school with him—while he was staring at me and grinning. He kept doing it, finished it even and the class went on! It was like being in a mad house. [Puts hands over ears as she shakes her head]
That was the start of four years of terror. These big, ugly, smelly, black boys were always trying to have sex with you, the black girls made it impossible to use the bathroom, because they’d rip your hair out or your head and the teachers just pretended nothing was happening.
I’m never setting foot back in Baltimore.
This interview was recorded in 1996, one of 19 remaining in my original unpublished notes for The Violence Project.
Thriving in Bad Places
‘Across from Tom’s Barbershop’
harm city
Run, Yo, Run!
the gods of boxing
on the overton railroad
son of a lesser god
by the wine dark sea
america the brutal
the fighting edge
honor among men
the lesser angels of our nature
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