• Whispers

    Sometimes, all it takes to be noticed is being different from the people around you. At our school, the quickest way to get noticed would be to have a different skin color then the majority of people at our school. The majority is about 90% whites; anyone else falls into that small 10%. I’m one of the many who fall under the 90% majority. People who are half white are usually considered whiter so they also fall under the 90%. Most of the white people aren’t exactly the friendliest of people to the 10%. I’m one of the few who don’t actually judge someone before getting to know them.
    As soon as she walked into the class, all eyes turned towards her; the biology lesson temporarily forgotten. Her eyes dashed around, trying to take in everyone as the whispers began. The teacher looked her up and down, took in the new girls’ clothing style-big hoop earrings, a simple shirt, dark skinny jeans, and almost knee high suede boots. The teacher extended her hand to retrieve the new student’s timetable. One of the teacher’s eyebrows arched up as she glanced at the paper.
    “Everyone this is, De’Lanice. De’Lanice, please take an empty seat.”
    Everyone’s eyes stayed on her as she made her way quickly over to the empty seat in front of me. As she sat down, her phone fell out of her jean pocket. I heard her sigh as others started to chuckle. I reached down and grabbed the phone, noticing that it was the same Blackberry I had. She turned around slightly and I handed her back her phone. Her eyes met mine, and she mumbled “thanks” and turned back around in her seat.
    If I could hear the whispers, I’m sure De’Lanice could too. They weren’t overly mean, but they weren’t exactly nice either. I’m sure they didn’t help De’Lanice feel welcome on her first day. Everyone knows it’s not exactly easy being new, and yet, people still give the new student a hard time, that or they ignore the student. Even the few other rather new students weren’t trying to make conversation with her; just about her. I figured I might as well be the one to start up a conversation with her, seeing as no one else is willing.
    “So… De’Lanice, what other classes do you have this semester?” I asked her quietly so the teacher didn’t hear me. At first she didn’t answer, and then she turned around and handed me her timetable slowly. I took it and put it down on my desk. I bent down and reached into my bag, pulling out my mostly crumpled up timetable and laid it down on the desk next to De’Lanice’s. As I read her subjects my eye brows went up. She was taking College Biology, University English, University Math, and Ancient History this semester.
    I tapped her on her shoulder and said, “You’re in my Ancient History class in room 205.”
    She nodded her head and said, “Cool, I’ll see you there then.”
    Seeing as how the conversation seemed to have ended, I returned to listening to the teacher talk about viruses.
    A few minutes before class ended I started to pack up like I normally do and when the bell rang I was ready to leave. I stood up and headed to the door, getting out before most people. As I was heading to my locker I saw De’Lanice walk past me and then get stopped by this white girl named Aubrey and her friend Charlotte. The looks on their faces didn’t exactly shout happy. I closed my locker and walked over slowly towards the small crowd forming.
    “Schools should really have standards for who they let in. Don’t you agree, Charlotte?” Aubrey glanced sideways to her friend who just nodded. I looked over towards De’Lanice, and saw she looked annoyed at being stopped. More people had gathered, but most of them shared the same expression as Aubrey did.
    “I’d like to go to my next class. So if you wouldn’t mind moving…” De’Lanice said as she stepped forward and slightly pushed Aubrey to the side.
    “Why the f*** are you touching me you nasty monkey!” Aubrey yelled and pushed De’Lanice back into the middle of the crowd. I could feel my eye brows go up in astonishment. Aubrey was intolerant, but she was usually never outright mean. A lot of people in the crowd started laughing and some were shouting insults at De’Lanice. I wasn’t sure what to do. If I intervened and stood up for her, I could get yelled at next. I’m not a huge fan of conflict.
    “Excuse me? Who the hell are you calling a monkey, b****?” De’Lanice didn’t look upset at all over the rude insults she was getting thrown at her, she just looked mad. Aubrey moved a bit closer to De’Lanice; her hands on her hips, a smirk on her face, obviously pleased she had angered her.
    “Clearly you. It’s not my fault you look like an ugly ape.” The laughter was just as loud this time as it was the last time.
    “B****, you better back up out of my face.” Again my eye brows rose, this time at what De’Lanice had said. If she got into an actual fight today with Aubrey, it would just give more people a reason to hate her. Being black was reason enough, but if she hit Aubrey, it would just make things worse for her. Even knowing this though, I still didn’t move to help her. It was bad enough that I got nervous around conflict, but Aubrey kind of scared me.
    Aubrey laughed, and I noticed that Charlotte looked a tad bit nervous. She kept fidgeting with her fingers and her eyes darted around as if she was worried.
    “Aubrey…we need to go to class. Let her be.” Charlotte said, finally speaking up. Aubrey sent a glare in her friends’ direction, and then pinned it on De’Lanice.
    “Watch yourself monkey.” She said before turning on her heel and walking away, Charlotte following close behind her. As they walked away, some students looked disappointed, others looked annoyed, but very few looked sympathetic. I stood there knowing I should have done something, or at least stood up for De’Lanice. But I was too scared, too weak to handle confrontation with Aubrey. I could feel the guilt seep into me as I stood there behind De’Lanice as all the other students quickly disappeared into their next class. I felt a hand on my shoulder and it startled me. I turned around-thinking it would be a teacher telling me to hurry along to class-but saw my friend Jamie instead.
    “Hey, Rachel. Hopefully new girl learns her place huh.” She said as she pushed her ginger colored bangs out of her eyes. Jamie usually wasn’t racist, but she had her days. My mouth formed a thin line and I didn’t say anything. It’s not exactly easy to stand up for something when so many people are against what you’re standing up for. We started on our way to class, and as we passed De’Lanice, my guilt didn’t lessen. I looked back quickly at her and saw she was shaking a bit. The right thing to do would have been to stop walking and try and talk to her, or at least ask if she was okay. I did neither-I just kept walking with Jamie to our next class.

    When it came time for last period, I quickly made my way to class, knowing that id see De’Lanice and hopefully get the chance to apologize. As I made my way around all the students on my way to class, I caught bits and pieces of what people were talking about. Everyone seemed to be talking about the fight that had almost happened between Aubrey and De’Lanice. As I entered the classroom, everyone’s eyes momentarily turned towards me, and upon seeing who it was, they quickly lost interest and turned away and continued talking to their friends. I went quickly to my desk and sat down, waiting for my friend Kylee to come and take her usual seat next to me on my right side.
    I looked at the clock and as the bell rang signaling last period was about to start, in came De’Lanice. Again everyone’s eyes turned towards the door, and upon seeing who it was, glares set upon most people’s faces. The atmosphere in the classroom had changed from happy and chatty, to hostile and unwelcoming. I wasn’t the only one who could feel it, I’m sure De’Lanice did too as she quickly looked down and away from everyone and sat down in the closest seat she could get to, which happened to be the seat beside me to my left. I looked over to her and opened my mouth to apologize when she fixed me with a glare.
    “What? Want my monkey a** to move? I actually thought you might be a decent white person, but you’re just like the rest. Stuck up and rude. This is why I hate white people.”
    I just sat there and didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say, as I knew she probably wouldn’t change her mind. She had made it clear she didn’t want to be friends, and I knew it was my fault. Even though she had been rude to me when I meant only to explain and apologize, the guilt still stayed with me. She got up out of the seat and moved closer to the back where no one was sitting except another person named Roman who belonged to the small 10% minority of non-whites. I only had me to blame for not being able to be her friend. If I hadn’t been so weak and worried about what other people would say, I could have had a new friend.
    Days came and went, a few more new kids came, one belonging to the 10% minority, and I chose not to stand out among the majority again. And maybe it was better that way. At least when you don’t stand out, you’re not as targeted by some people. When you don’t stand out you don’t have to listen to the whispers about you. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with being different, being different just doesn’t work for me as I like to blend in and not stand out.