Something in my gut told me to miss my Latin class today. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the fact that it was 2am on the last day of break and I had not even touched my Latin stuff. I found out that I had to translate about 7 poems, but I had no idea how that was going to happen. I took little 90 minute-naps (because I read somewhere that it takes 90 minutes to finish a REM cycle), and somehow that kind of worked. I would wake up not feeling groggy and I felt like I could work. But then I would just go back to sleep after a little bit.
By 6:30am, I decided to wake up and finish the poems. It was around this time that I felt the need to just email my professor saying that I would be sick and miss class. I should’ve done it, I really should have.
But then I thought, “What if this was the one day that he choose a me and I would lose participation points?” Also, what if I needed to use that sick excuse for another day when I was really dying? So being the good student I am, I decided to go to class.
Well this will be very ironic coming from a student, but this was one of the few times in my college career that I absolutely regretted going to class.
So after Sociology, I walk over to my Latin class, which is technically in the same building. I sit and go over my notes once I reach the class room. I am a little nervous because there were so many poems to go over, but I knew that I had atleast looked over them.
So the rest of the class comes in, and we are all waiting for our teacher when suddenly some one tall old man comes in. He asked with an English accent, “Is this the Latin Catullus class?” We all nod, and he just comes in and sits down. He says that he is taking over the class for today. I thought to myself, “Wow, I really could have missed this class today.”
So he comes in, and he seems nice and everything. But he also seems very straight-forward. No wasting time and no beating around the bush.
So I was a little antsy, and I was hoping that he wouldn’t be like my professor and just choose people.
Of course he did.
And guess who he chose first…
So before he even chose me, he was already staring me down for whatever reason. Most likely it was because I was the only “melaninated” person in the room, which always received attention.
He was talking about the current poem that we were about to discuss, which we had talked about maybe a week ago. Unfortunately, I had not really focused on that poem because I thought we would move on, but instead that was the focus for half of the class.
My luck is just amazing.
While he was talking about it, he was talking about how controversial and sexual it was, and he used the word “Racy”. Right when he said that word, he stared at me. I stared right back at him with disbelief. Did that actually happen? I even smirked a little bit.
I’m sure the class took the word just the way it was intended to be taken: sexual, lively, entertaining…
As for me, I took it differently.
Just the way he said it and the way he looked at me when he said it, I knew what he was getting at. I believe he meant to say that word in a way to pertain to race, and I was not having it.
I already felt like me and this guy probably would not get along.
And maybe he felt that too, because he quickly pointed to me (like actually pointed to me), and said “You, what is this poem talking about”. I was taken aback, but at the same time, I felt like I was expecting it, since he never once moved his eyes away from me except to look down at the poem for a second.
I looked at the poem and my mind went blank. I knew what the poem was about. I knew it was about this guy having a sexual desire for a girl, but everything in the middle was a little confusing for me. In the poem, I didn’t really catch on to the fact that he was forcing her to stay home for him.
Anyways, the point is, once he pointed to me and asked me to answer, my mind drew a huge question mark and I didn’t say anything. All I said was that I knew the main character and that was it. I didn’t want to feel dumb by saying it was sexual, even though it really was. Maybe I really didn’t know this poem as well as I had hoped.
Anyways, there was a silence for maybe 10 seconds, and then he chose someone else to answer. The person answered perfectly.
I kind of felt bad at the time, but I didn’t want to show it because I knew that almost every eye in that room was on me. There was always this girl in there who constantly stared at me every day in class, so I knew her eyes were on me.
What I really hated was the fact that it was as though I had solidified his idea of me. He probably just wanted to test how smart I really was. He wanted to see how much I knew. Once I didn’t say anything, it probably justified his assumptions, which really pissed me off.
I wanted to blame it on the lack of sleep, I wanted to blame it on the fact that I was giving him an attitude for the “racy” incident, I wanted to blame it on the fact that my break was not as relaxed as I had wanted it to be (due to a mentally-unstable roommate, who by the way moved out this break as well :D), I wanted to blame it on the fact that I was caught off guard. But honestly, I couldn’t really blame it on anyone or anything except myself.
I should have said something.
And the worst part of it was that I felt that my failure allowed others to feel more comfortable when talking. They probably thought that they weren’t as bad as me. He called on people to translate, and he called out a couple people on how bad their readings were, but even that was better than my response (or the lack of one) …
Also, I know that he will probably say something to my professor because he will definitely remember me. I mean come on, he can just say, “The ‘black girl’ in your class did not say anything when she was called upon” and my professor would know exactly who he was talking about. If it were anyone else, he wouldn’t have a name and the professor wouldn’t be able to pinpoint who it was. Ughhhh.
I can just tell that my professor will call on me next class. Hell, he might even make me translate everything for that day. Now, I really have to be on my A-game on Friday.
I hate how I feel like these problems come down to race. If I weren’t the only black girl in the room, I highly doubt that this old man would have called on me.
The crazy thing is that, all problems aside, I really liked this guy. I liked how he taught the material. It was actually what I had expected to get out of my Latin class when I enrolled. I like how he broke everything down and made me see the poetry in a whole different way. We talked about this other poem about inviting this guy to dinner, but it was so cool how he made us see the invitation inside the poem. I also liked how he stressed that the poem at first glance is different from the hidden message. He MADE us see that hidden message and it was fun discovering it. I also enjoyed how he was open to most interpretations (I say most because there were some people who he said were just completely wrong), though he definitely showed that he had favorites.
There is this girl in my Latin class who just does the most all the time. She always has this super intricate evaluation of the situation int he poem that ends up being correct, but no one would have probably guessed unless they studied Catullus for atleast 10 years. She just seemed like such an expert. It was as if she lived and breathed this stuff.
And this probably has nothing to do with it, but I found it interesting that she was probably the least melaninated person in the room. As in, if there was a spectrum for the amount of melanin each person has in the room, I would be at on e extreme and she would be at the other. Her skin was so pale and her hair was so blonde. It was as if she had never been under the sun before.
But I am pretty sure it was the fact that she knew a crap-ton about Catullus.
So she always had something to say in class, and when she said something today, the guy just really liked it and said that she was spot-on. So he asked for her name, which he never did to anyone else in the class. And after asking for her name, he said that he probably should not have asked for names, and for whatever reason, he looked at me again when he said this. What was that suppose to mean? That was the second time during the entire class that he made a remark and looked at me while saying it. Even earlier in the class, after I had not answered him, he did not make eye contact with me during the rest of class (even though I was making very strong eye contact with him. I probably was making his nervous, because he definitely stumbled through his words at the beginning of class. Maybe he was just nervous in general), up until he made this remark.
I was so surprised, yet not surprised about this guy. This may not have been the first time that I had been in a class where I was the only black person in there, but I felt very out of place in this class specifically. I didn’t talk to anyone in there even on a regular day, even though I shared a class with a few of them the semester before (maybe it will dent their appearance and their “status” to all other people in the class), so I get to class, I don’t say anything, and I am one of the first to leave. I’m only there to pass the class and get my credit for graduation. I just want to become a doctor ;(
I really do enjoy Latin, but I don’t like the atmosphere in this class.
I really enjoyed the class today, but I am truly sorry to say that I feel like I would have enjoyed it better if I didn’t have melanin in my skin.