Friday, October 10, 2008

A Different World (part 2 of 2)

This week, our be-shadowed baby shower attendee dreams of a distant future when his own potential progeny flirt with the possibility of attending an HBCU.

Welcome to the Barack Obama Occidental Technical Institute, or as we students like to call it, “BOOTI.” My name is Chuck, your tour guide. Any questions before we begin?

I’ve got one. What's up with your T-shirt?

“Go Grease!?” That’s referring to our school mascot. It’s our official sports chant.

So your athletics teams are called the BOOTI Grease?

The one and only. Any more questions before we start?

One more. Your father’s name wouldn’t happen to be Charley, would it?

He’s a friend of our parents.

Your resemblance to him is striking.

Sadly I, much like the great founder of this university, never knew my father well. He was a bit of a rolling stone.

Although, I seem to recall snatches of loose-fitting dashikis, Afro picks, and fiery lectures on blacks’ coming ascendance in American society.

Yep, that’s him.

Shall we begin? On your left you’ll see our Student Recreation facility, which features twelve outdoor basketball courts, replete with grass speckled blacktop surfaces, imaginary 3-point lines, and rims with the scant remnants of nylon nets.

F’ sho! I’ll be crossing suckers up, no doubt.

On your right is Biden Hall, home of our Political History department, behind which is the alleyway where the university holds its annual winner-take-all dice tournament.

Shake ‘em up! Clackety-clack.

And just ahead is our Student Union, which features Platinum Cutz, our 24-hour barbershop/beauty salon—

Good, I gots to keep my line tight, yo.

Hott Traxx, our campus recording studio, open to any student who wants to lay down some lyrics—

Word, son…. Word, life.

—and Chuckie’s Chitlins—my personal favorite—our campus soul food restaurant.

No doubt! Let’s go get our grub on!

Octus, are you hearing this drivel? HBCU's are even more ghetto than I feared!

Let’s not judge too quickly, Mulatia. The true test of any university’s value won’t be on the general campus, but in the classroom.

Bigger Thomas Hall, later

Welcome to Intro to 19th-century American Lit. My name is Buck, your recitation leader. Any questions before we begin?

I have one. My brother and I are visiting campus; would you mind if we sat in on your class?

Be my guest. Any other questions?

Yeah, kind of random, but your father’s name wouldn't happen to be Charley, would it?

Your resemblance to this guy we know is … striking.

Sadly, like the protagonist of our novel today, I had a tempestuous relationship with my father—known to me simply as "X."

He took on my mother in a nasty custody dispute over his wanting to raise me on a guinea fowl ranch in West Africa.

Yeah, that’s probably him.

Today’s topic is based on your required summer reading: Huckleberry Finn. Initial reactions?

I thought it was kind of stupid, yo.

Is that “stupid” in a good way, or “stupid,” as in—?

I didn’t get why Huck and Jim took a raft up the Mississippi. I mean, if the trip was so urgent, why didn’t they just cop a couple of plane tickets?

Yeah, I mean, I know they were poor and all, but they couldn’t scrape together $45 to rent a Camry for the weekend, or something?

Let’s keep the historical moment in mind, students. Remember, this story is set well before—

And how are they just gonna hold Jim against his will like that, yo? I mean, he couldn’t get to a telephone or nothing to report his kidnapping to the police?

Yeah, it was like he didn’t have any kind of control over where he went or what he did, like he was some kind of migrant worker or something.

Uuuhhh … What about you, Paprika? You’ve been pretty quiet.

I thought the book was stupid.

Can you elaborate?

Well, it was OK until I came across the N-word. Then I just couldn’t keep reading.

So you read up to about page ten.

I mean, chht, I am not trying to be retrospected like that by some crusty, old, white author.

But the book is written in the first-person perspective. It’s not Mark Twain, himself, saying—

I’m just saying, it’s cool if he wants to put that word in the book and all, but at least show some respect and spell it “n-i-g-g-a” instead of with the “er.”

I mean, chht, he don’t even know me like that.

OK, quick review … are we all familiar with the time period we’re discussing here?

The 19th Century, yo.

Yeah, that was, like, back when my grandparents were kids … like, the Civil Rights era and all that.

Yeah, before color was invented and the world was in black and white.


Octus, are you OK?

I’m … I’m … speechless. This far surpasses my wildest fears about HBCU’s.

True, but even most white colleges have students as dense as these. The true test of any school’s quality is in the degree of transparency within the administration.

Kool Moe Dee Auditorium, later

Welcome to the Barack Obama Occidental Technical Institute’s 2025 Convocation! My name is Tuck, your MC.

“Tuck?” Hey, Chuck and Buck, are all three of you brothers?

Of course not.

Yeah, why would you think that?

It’s just … the resemblance …

And without further ado, I’d like to introduce to the incoming class of 2029 our university’s beloved president, and my father, Charles Polk!

Thank you, Tuck. Thank you. HOW ARE YOU BOOTI??!!!



That can’t be—

No, Octus. I’m afraid it can be.

First off, I’d like to thank my brother-in-law, Provost C-Roc; my sister, Associate Provost Tookie; my second cousin, Dean Ray-Ray; my poker buddy, Dean Sticky Fingas …

My gosh, the nepotism! The corruption!

And, of course, I’d like to thank the student body, whose tuition and fees line my pockets and fuel up my H5 all-terrain, racetrack-ready Hummer hovercraft.



I can’t sit here and not say anything

Mulatia! What are you doing?

Attention BOOTI students!! This entire system is a sham!! A meat market!!

Who is this girl?

Approximately half of the students filling this auditorium are the illegitimate offspring of this man onstage—President Polk, “X,” Charley, whatever you want to call him!

And he’s leveraging the U.S.’s growing overpopulation—to which he deliberately contributed—to make himself, his kith, and the kin he chooses to claim filthy rich!

Father! Say it ain’t so!

HA HA HA!! So what if it is true? You all need me to award your diplomas so that you can make even a livable wage in this super-competitive economy! Regardless of the cause, there’s no way around the system! HA HA HA!!

Maybe there is.


What if we all rejected this educational system and said, “Enough,” to the capitalist exploitation of which it is a part?

What if we all began buying and trading locally, educating the members of our own communities, building a new society based around the good of the commonwealth instead of just an elite few?

Yeah, and we could make it all official by creating and signing a document stating these objectives.

… Ummm, I think we already tried that once.

... The Declaration of Independence?

Oh, right.

... hmmmm …

ATTENTION!! Free fried dark meat lunch combo at Chuckie’s Chitlins for the first hundred students through the door!

Trample Trample Trample Trample

Well that cleaned this place out.

Come on, Mulatia. Let’s go find Mom and Pop and get out of here.

You said it, Octus.

Sniff, sniff ... but I wish someone could tell me what that strange aroma is that I've been smelling our entire time on campus.

I believe that's called "relaxer;" I picked up the scent when we toured Platinum Cutz in the Student Union.

It's what unmixed Negroes put in their hair to keep it from "napping up."

You think we should pick up some for dad before we leave?

And have his hair look straighter and sheenier than ours?

Come on, Mulatia. We've got to make sure he remembers who has the good hair in this family.

Sigh, yeah ... if only Mom's genes weren't the recessive ones. Maybe our own kids will have better luck.

We can only hope. In the meantime, let's try to slip off campus without anyone picking up on our racial self-hatred and inability to identify with and understand even the most common black cultural tropes.

Back in reality, in Awkasi and Senami's apartment

Beau! Beau! Wake up, dude.

Huh? What?

Senami’s about to open your baby shower gift.

Eet's ... Eet's ...

A copy of W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk??

It’s to supplement Good Night Moon and Where the Wild Things Are.

… Because a leettle child really needs to be burdened with a knowledge of tha racial politeecs of American heestory.

More than you know, Senami…. More than you know.


Abdel Shakur said...


Shawna said...

In the meantime, let's try to slip off campus without anyone picking up on our racial self-hatred and inability to identify with and understand even the most common black cultural tropes.

i think abdel said it.

Jackson Brown said...

i mean, if you're going to go there, you might as well go all the way ... right?