Letter from the Grey Zone
Oh man Collin, today’s podcast is really hitting home for me. I’m one of those “grey zone” kids too. Going to a black school in the 90’s ( 1992-93 to be precise) was almost the death of me literally (me and a small group of white guys that banded together for safety were shot at) and definitely ruined my life in terms of academics and graduating high school.
I grew up in Northeast Kansas City and went to Northeast High School , which of course is a predominately black school in a predominately black neighborhood.
It was rare to have a day go by where I wasn’t at the very least called a honky, cracker or white boy but at least those days didn’t result in physical violence. Most days unfortunately had me having to get physical with the fellas.
I even saw a kid get sliced down his thigh with a straight razor from one of the fellas, the reason? He was white and it was Black History Month so “The Cracker had to pay for slavery”. It was one of the scariest things I’d seen at that school. The kid never came back after that.
I was always a big guy even as a freshman I was 6 foot 2 and 300 lbs. I was what you would call country strong so it would make the black kids angry when they couldn’t always beat me one on one so then usually I would get jumped where some days I’d be fending off around 5 black assailants at once. Needless to say those days I would get my ass whipped.
Eventually I got a group of around 5-6 white guys who were bigger and sick of always being singled out to always be together and we were like a small gang I suppose. We always looked out for each other and tried our best to help the hapless other white kids who just tried to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the situation.
Eventually the fellas got sick of not being able to fight us fairly and one day while we were smoking outside they did a drive by on us, shooting at us without successfully hurting us physically but in a way it was like they killed our spirit that day.
I dropped out and there was really no repercussions for anything that happened that day because I couldn’t pick out who did it (I literally felt like every fella in the car looked alike from what I could recollect and it happened in the blink of an eye)
After that I just was always filled with anxiety and overly cautious to the point of overkill. To this day I still always watch my surroundings out of the corner of my eye.
I know for one my life has been harder due to the extreme amount of black hostility and violence I had to endure. I’ve never really had a good job, I drink too much and I have a lot of emotional issues. So I guess I really did die that day I was shot at, it has just been a very slow progress and instead of my life being taken away it was my spirit.
Thanks for letting me share with you, Colin you are doing important work so thank you from the bottom of my heart!