Pingy-Dingy Wednesday — Unsettling American

I was bussed to a new junior high when I was in 6th grade. My neighborhood elementary school had been integrated, but now we were in a place where kids from all-black and all-white elementary schools were mixing it up. A lot of things happened at once for me. I got bullied by some of the black girls. I fell in love with others, who could and did perform “Rapper’s Delight” in its entirety in the locker room, wearing only bras and panties. I saw how the new principal didn’t know how to deal with the racial tensions exploding in school, and it was extremely frightening to see that a grown up in charge was clueless. At the same time, my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, with her afro and great big tortoiseshell glasses, was determined to educate us, white and black alike. She took us on field trips to the projects, to see “Shaft,” and to tour downtown St. Louis, where slaves used to be auctioned off. In 7th grade, my hippy teachers turned me on to reading books like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and The Gulag Archipelago. Not every little nascent white baby femme got the radical wake up call that I did so early. I was fucking lucky.

“Unsettling America”, you get one pingy-dingy, in memory of and gratitude to Hanley Junior High and all its students and staff, Mrs. Brown, and the Team Zero teachers: you woke me up and you started me on my way, long, long before the word “intersectionality” became part of my vocabulary.

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.