Hume Fogg High School, Nashville, TN
Sponsoring Station: WNPT, Nashville, TN
Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break. Since we only get three days. It is my Sophomore year. Music History. The class is very segregated. My friends sit just at the edge of a circle of black Senior girls. One of them is putting lotion on her hands and discussing Thanksgiving dinner with her friends.
"Ya'll know the deal. We gonna have turkey and ham and chicken, macaroni, greens, every kinda pie you could ever want." She keeps talking. Stretching her words and enunciating every syllable. She looks at us and her hands freeze for a moment, her fingers still intertwined. "Ya'll white folks eat casseroles and stuff. And only pick one of each thing. Like, just turkey, or just one kinda pie. The casseroles is what get me though." We all just sort of look at each other. I start to open my mouth and give some smart ass remark, but I keep it shut, knowing it's a lost cause. She's done rubbing lotion on her hands, and I think that maybe that will be an end to her attack on white people as well.
She turns around and says something under her breath, then all of the girls in the circle laugh. She turns back around. "And all ya'll white people use china. China and silver and some starched white napkins and wine glasses. Crystal wine glasses." They all laugh again. "Us black folk like to use paper plates and plastic cups and plastic utensils. Seems like it makes more sense." She grins at us and the way her eyes squint makes me melt into my shoes. I open my mouth again, this time for good, but my friend elbows me and shakes her head.
Three days later and it's Thanksgiving Day. My whole family has been in the kitchen cooking. I pass by the cupboard where we keep the China and silver and starched white napkins. They haven't been touched. My mother runs around the house and tells all twenty some-odd people in the house that dinner is finally ready.
Everyone lines up in the kitchen, and as I near the table, I see the paper plates. All stacked next to the paper napkins and the plastic utensils. My aunt is pouring drinks into blue plastic cups and suddenly I begin to laugh. A few people in my family stare and laugh at me, but most just cut me in line, and head toward the table that has both chicken and turkey, and no casseroles.