I was depressed the summer after graduating high school and struggle to get back up. Many things had happened to me. Despite what anybody thinks, though, the biggest blow was the one delivered by my high school’s administration and academic advisor.
I was a student who had been extremely involved in my school’s activities. I had been a member of the student body for four years, student body president, member of my prom committee, and had overall invested uncountable amounts of time, energy, and money into building my school’s spirit.
The school board had a scholarship meant for students who were involved in school activities, and had showcased leadership skills throughout high school. I genuinely believed that at worst, I was eligible to apply. When I named the scholarship and told my academic advisor the board asked students to reach out to their advisors for details, she told me “don’t worry about it.” She side-stepped her way out of giving me any information to apply.
I later learned by chance that one of my non-black friends had gotten the award. Someone who had done shit all for the school. Literally nothing. I’ve never blamed him for having been told to apply for it. Students from previous years told me I got lucky, because they usually learned they got played on graduation day. When he told me he had won, I wondered why I was told not to worry about applying for the award prior to the application deadline.
School teachers and members of the scholarship decision-making board broke their confidentiality rules to tell me something had gone wrong, and that it was in my full and well-informed right to complain. That they would support me in the process. Some even told me racism was at play.
At the time, both teachers’ outrage and my parents’ fiery emails to the board implied a racism I didn’t understand.
The aftermath took me in a downwards spiral of encounters with the principal and the advisor that left me in tears. I emailed her and CC’d my principal. I met with both o them. I hosted my end of the year show and allowed them to hug me in front of the school. Then, I yelled at one of them outside, in front of students, some of whom missed their busses home to enjoy the show.
“Do you think I would do this out of bad faith?”
“You wouldn’t have run after a student a quarter of your age, and allowed her to yell at you embarrassingly in front of all of these students, and not taken disciplinary action, if you believed I was in the wrong.”
My last discussion with the school principal was slightly different, but on the same tone. I had never been in his office other than for morning announcements, or to plan school-wide activities. That day, after school, I yelled at him and cried tears I didn’t know or understand.
“What you’re doing, it can kill kids! It can kill a kid’s dreams! You’re killing people,” I cried to him.
I didn’t really know the meaning of what I had told him that afternoon.
The debacle took place around my last week of school, and while everyone was worried about prom and graduating, I was worried about organizing both for a school that had blatantly disrespected me. I told close friends and my parents that I wanted to attend neither, but allowed them to convince me I had done all of this work for students, and that I should celebrate with fellow friends one last time. So I did try.
I put in all of my effort to make these last two parts of my high school experience run as smoothly as possible. The one thing I’ll never get back is missing out on the wonderful group pictures my high school friends took in my absence because I was carrying prom center pieces to a car. All this for a school that didn’t respect me.
I really tried to push through the night. Then, I got in some sort of situation with my friends that sunk me even deeper. My school slaps me in the face. My friends slap me in the face. I spent part of my prom night crying in the bathroom or crying outside to older students who had come back as photographers. They told me things would be alright. I’m alive, so they were somewhat right.
After all of this, I went to an after prom where I felt out of place. Got a ride home the next morning, cried on my mother’s lap, then spent most of my summer in bed or alone.
I remember a few things of that summer. Once, I was standing at the bus stop, heading to work. Jay Elec’s I Feel Good played while the sky was crystal blue. I remember playing Melanie Fiona’s If I Fall. I remember liking Scarface and Nas’ In Between Us. I remember that one day with my mother and sister, the first time I left the house and felt a little happy.
That summer, I struggled to work on OTwaddup and called it quits. I stopped talking to a few of my friends. I think that what happened essentially affected my lifeline. I tell people I don’t have a passion. I think I did at some point. One beyond music. I’ve always enjoyed working with or for people. What the school essentially told me was — your four years of work don’t mean shit. I’ve struggled to consistently and effectively work on projects involving people ever since. My ability to do what I love was literally broken by the way they spat in my face .
Anyways, maybe all of these events are unrelated. Maybe they don’t have anything to do with today at all. But I just need to get it out, cause this is how I feel. No more letting the past get in the way of what I want to do.
A big fuck you to Mme Beaulac and. M. Bouchard.