Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Last Whites

[Media prompt] “And I hate, hate being white. I do, I really hate it, because so, I’m told on a daily basis that I’m a racist because I’m white. And then I’m told all these things like, you know you can go to Twitter and there’s so many people saying that they want to rape, torture, kill, wipe out whites, because they’re white.”

The Last Whites

Things went bad after they found Andrea Brown’s body on the safety trail. Then the police found bits of Billy Michaelson buried nearby. Not long afterwards, they dropped the whole idea of a safe route, and then everyone stopped going to school.

In those days, whites lived in the Camp. The blacks called it the Chicken House, a fenced off zone, one gate in and out, as secure as anything back then could be. In the early mornings, as if they celebrated surviving the night, gangbangers would light fires at the fence, calling us out by name through the smoke and flames.

There were about seventy, eighty families living in the Camp, most of them connected to the Tesla plant. Andrea’s dad was something there, but after she died he told the Musk family they could go to hell, hiring an extraction unit to get them out. Once you’d done something like that, it was over, even I knew that. A sure fire way to get branded racist.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown took what they could carry. Loretta and I went over a couple of hours after they left, the whup-whup of chopper blades echoing in our ears, and wandered around like homeless children. Andrea’s room was exactly as we remembered, except she’d been hacked into pieces and wasn’t ever coming back.

My father was one of a handful who didn’t work for Tesla. He was the last white teacher at DeRay, trying to teach maths to kids who told us every day they wanted to wipe out whites. At night I’d pray for my mother to convince him to grapple with whatever demons kept him from following the Browns. I never told anyone this, not even Loretta, but I thanked God in Heaven for weeks after Andrea was murdered, thanked Him for taking her and Billy Michaelson’s life so that we didn’t have to go to school. No white who’s survived this long has a clear conscience, but I still feel guilty every day for that. I still miss her, twelve-year-old Andrea Brown. Some days I miss who I was then, too.

For the first few days, the authorities ignored our absence from DeRay. Twenty or twenty-five whites missing from a student body of over two thousand, the majority of whom understood education as optional, wasn’t likely to excite a response. But then one morning there was a crowd at the gate, demanding we be sent back to school. My father went to talk with them. He never returned, and not long after extraction units airlifted us to what we naively thought was safety. Loretta’s family never made it.

DeRay Mckesson Memorial High School limped along for another decade, closing after most of it was gutted by fires. They never replaced my father. Nor did we. The Tesla plant survived white flight, but when the government overturned the Constitution it was burned like everything else with the taint of white.

It’s ironic that the Camp turned out to be the safest place I ever lived. 

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