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Net-Hetep TaNesert
Trista Martin, Instructor
LA202 OL2: English Composition: Creative Persuasion & Argument
October 7, 2016
Crossing the Railroad Tracks: Integration a Costly Education 1972
Say it loud. Im Black and Im proud! Yeah, I was doing the dance called the funky chicken
to the Godfather of Soul-James Browns uplifting song during the 70s. His meaningful songs
became lyrical manifestos about our ignored pride during the era of profound racism against
Black people in America-my people. I was the first of thirteen children born in a hospital across
those racially dividing railroad tracks. I was born on September 11, 1957 in St. Anthony
Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK. All of my older siblings were born in small country Oklahoma
towns with the assistance of mid-wives. On my birth certificate, the term Negro identifies my
parents racial status in America. Racial discrimination and segregation in Oklahoma was as
natural as dust storms, and tumble weeds. Even though things were changing inter-racially
throughout other parts of America, I never dreamed about nor had the desire to go a white
My birth name during those days was Debra Faye Levingston-Mathenia. I was fifteen and full of
hopeful dreams. I grew up during the time before we as Black people considered ourselves
African Americans. Segregation was still lethally legal throughout the state of Oklahoma during
the 70s. We were desperately struggling with our identity as a race of people still trapped
viciously within the merciless grip of racism. Railroad tracks are scattered all throughout our

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state like iron borderlines. They defined the places we were restricted not to cross over into
unless we were working as domestic servants. My mother, Emma Jean (affectionately known as
Miss Honey and MaDeah in our community) crossed those railroad tracks daily while working
sometimes as a domestic servant. Her days were filled with saying, Yez, Sur and Yez Maam
to white folks who could treat her any way they wanted. My Miss Honey still spoke in the old
Negro dialect. She was somewhat educated. Miss Honey graduated from high school and went
to a small Negro University. She dropped out to become a preachers wife, which is still both
popular and trendy for Black women today.
Living and growing up on the northeast side of Oklahoma City, never felt incomplete to me. I
was happy. Our communities were economically thriving with various black owned and operated
businesses. We also had our own fully equipped recreational parks. In the spring and summer
time, our neighborhood yards were bursting with the fanciful aromas of various flowers. You
children betta not trample on my flowerbeds, or else Im gonna tell yah Mommas! shouted Mrs.
Smiley. Each morning on our way to elementary school, we took short cuts across her beautiful
lawn. Summertime meant family bar-b-ques, fireworks popping off on July 4, and community
block parties. Childhood wonderments filled my life with sublime joy. I envisioned growing up
to become a professional cultural dancer. Our Junior High Schools modern dance class
performed for the famous Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe. Hell, I had everything I needed to grow up
to become somebody successful in the creative field of Arts. I loved my all Black neighborhood
I could freely study Black History alongside those biased required US History and Social Studies
courses. I proudly celebrated Black History Month while soulfully echoing the words written by
James Brown (Godfather of Soul) with my head be-bopping from side to side, Say it loud. Im

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Black and Im Proud. Repeatedly, the news about Oklahomas forced integration began to
slither its unwanted presence into my happily segregated life. Subsequently, Integration
murdered our neighborhood schools and business communities. How, you might ask?
Enrollment in our schools dropped drastically because many of our teachers was sent to teach in
white schools, which meant government funding was reduced extremely as well. Many of us
eagerly moved away from our communities to sample living integrated lifestyles, which started
the domino effect of black businesses closing as well. The neighborhood schools that I loved
closed in large numbers due to this historical fact. Imagine rival schools combining into one.
What do you think increased? If your answer was fighting then youre absolutely, correct. I
watched the news terrified whenever I saw African American children my age beaten by police
or having Military escorts into all white school environments unwanted to receive what others
thought would be opportunities for a better education. It was rude and insulting repetitiously
hearing that my education compared and contrasted to white childrens education was
inadequate. I witnessed something very different from those biased news reports. During
competition season, we courageously crossed those railroad tracks to compete scholastically with
white students. Our various schools students never disappointed us. They always managed to
return victoriously with first and second place trophies, and ribbons. What was the basis for such
demeaning criteria? Hey, NAACP and Mr. Martin Luther King, defiantly my dream was not
the same as yours. Was integration the only way for me to receive a fair education? I do not
want to go anywhere I am not welcomed and have racism spitting on my dreams. Nor have
police dogs attack my dreams and called a nigger in life threatening tones. At this point, I am
shouting in my pissed off mind, Integration, will murder my dreams and get away with it in the

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Oklahoma by court order devised a cross-districting plan of integration solely for the purposes of
integrating our schools. News reports said that it legally was due to the ratified 14th amendment
from July 9, 1868 regarding an Equal Protection Clause. Oklahomas school districts were in
Federal violation of conducting a dual school system (Dowell vs Oklahoma 1961).
The year of 1972 altered my lifes dreams forever. Pardon my explicit language from this point
forward. However, realistically racism has no socially appropriate language. Nor does it give
birth to any wonderful images to help you, the reader gently relive my cultural scarred
encounters with racism that periodically rears its nasty heads in my life today. If one of them
crackers call me ah niggah, Im busting them in their damn mouth-straight up! vehemently
shouted Eugene Crenshaw (one of our school bullies) while we waited on our school bus to
arrive. We all swore we were not going to take any shit from any redneck that approached us on
the other side of those railroad tracks.
Emotionally, I was smitten with a heavy sense of depression as our school bus slowly drove off.
Its presence captured my joy that I normally experienced on the first day of school. Why, God?
Why? Suddenly, I heard the bus driver yell, Yall betta settle down. Were coming up on the
railroad tracks. Jesus, would you look at this! Frozen in disbelief, I silently mouthed, What in
the awful hell is this? Angry white people with hurtful signs literally suffocated every inch of
both sides of the streets from the railroad tracks all the way to Southeast High School. Gone
back home, Niggers! Niggers are dumb for a reason! Monkeys belong in a zoo-Not in our
schools! Crash Crash . . . Terribly frightened, we all took shelter underneath the seats on the
bus for safety. Get yah nigger asses back across those railroad tracks where yall belong.
Hey, bus driver! Back this damn bus up and take us home! We all seemed to shout
simultaneously. Horrifically, there was broken glass, bricks, and bottles everywhere in our bus

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that reeked with the stench of racism. Oh yeah, there were cops on standby as well. Willingly,
they stood by like silent, yet consenting soldiers watching our battered bus helplessly make its
way through an avalanche of seething hatred. Try imagining that in your minds and hearts.
Rancorously, white cops stood in military like rows as our bus driver squeamishly came to a
scary stop in front of the school. Officer is it safe to allow these students to get off of this here
bus? asked the bus driver after he hesitantly opened the bus doors. Well, we cant guarantee
their safety from here to the front door. However, under court order these kids have to get off of
this here bus., replied the police officer with a twitching smirk on his face.
It was in those moments that I learned to despise and hate the faces of racism. Immediately, I
understood how my tarred, feathered, raped, castrated, spirits with broken hearts and lynched
ancestors still feel in their unmarked graves everywhere in America. Sharing these childhood
memories with you, the reader still ransacks my soul with tearful remorse. In an instant, my
dreams transformed into something else called Activism. The insane reality of escalating
outbreak of senseless racial murders today, keeps me rooted and grounded in the reality that I
must continue to fight with other human rights activists the needful purpose to destroy racism
everywhere that it lives. Until there is truly one nation everywhere with a fair judicial system
that honors the human rights of ALL, civilly, I will remain a thorny presence in racisms
penetrable skin. Regardless, if I did not have an intelligently beautiful daughter and an
outstanding grandson, I would still be an activist. Integrating to improve the quality of education
for the poor and disproportionately disenfranchised during the 70s was costly. I am reminded
daily of this expensive educational cost every time I cross railroad tracks not only in Oklahoma,
throughout the world. What are we going to do about our failing public school systems today?

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