Full Circle, Part 1 (of 3): Where I Come From

This is about where I come from.

I talk about racism, rape and sexual assault. Also, don’t check out the second hashtag unless you want to see some terrible stuff. (Fair warning, this is me recollecting – so I may be wrong about a few things but I’m trying to put them down as best I can.)

I was born in Harrison, Arkansas in the middle-south of the United States.

Many people who live there know it for the church get-togethers, the softball, the diners, the beautiful scenery.

Most of the world outside the U.S. (and some inside) knows it as the place where the KKK picks up its mail and puts up horrible billboards.

In this past July, the KKK began a summer camp for training white kids. (If this doesn’t make you feel incredibly angry, then I honestly don’t want discuss this situation with you.) Thankfully a campaign called #notmyozarks has started, showing the people of rural Ozarks as an already diverse and supportive group that does not appreciate the KKK or the message they’re sending. This campaign started after the co-opted #weareharrison, a hashtag that began to be overrun by white, racist nationalists talking about racial purity.

Harrison has a population of ~13,000 and boasts some of the prettiest vistas I’ve ever seen. I genuinely miss seeing the leaves change every year, and the first blanket of snow.

I was born in Harrison’s hospital. About two years later, my mother and father divorced. My dad and grandparents fought for custody of me after my mother hopped on a bus and disappeared. My grandparents won. I visited my father on weekends, and spent a fair amount of time there in the summer – especially when my first sister was born.

I was brought up Christian in the First Baptist Church, where most in attendance were white. Pictures of Jesus were always white. At Valley Springs, where I went to school until my sophomore year, most of my friends were white – most of the school was white. I knew of one gay guy. I did not learn how to put on makeup. I still do not know how to put on makeup properly.

At school, people would throw around the n-word like it was nothing – and not about each other, but definitely about black people. Lots of slurs were used, of all kinds. I imagine many of these people today would be embarassed. Some would not. For the most part we were kids, mimicking some of the adults around us.

I grew up learning to be polite above all else, even above myself. For many white women in the south (as I cannot speak for anyone else), being polite can and will dictate how you react to your situation.

  • “Never waste someone’s time.”
    “Accept hospitality.”
    “Do not be confrontational.”

In my sophomore year, I moved to Harrison High School. The original building was put up in 1912, but moved around to accomodate the ever-growing student population. Originally, the mascot was the Goblin – which was later changed to the Golden Goblin. When I began to play Dungeons and Dragons, this was a pretty good joke to me for a school with so many Christians in attendance. Just like at Valley, most of my friends were white. I was friends with (at least, I hope I was a friend to them) someone who was a lesbian, and peripherally knew her friend that was gay. They said if same-sex marriage was never allowed, they were going to marry each other to appease the law and just date people on the side. That was in 2001.

There was always an undercurrent of menace. What might happen if I wasn’t good enough, what might happen if I wasn’t polite enough. This set down a nice foundation for when boys wanted to take advantage of me.

I am well-endowed up top, so I would get the standard brush-againsts, the ‘accidental grabs’, and occasionally the NO PERMISSION feel-ups.

It would be rude to speak up. It would waste someone else’s time to talk about this when there are other, real problems. Boys were just showing affection and being hospitable. I should be thankful that I was being shown affection.

Sometimes, after being felt up, the boys would say ‘Thank you.’ Sometimes the boys wouldn’t do any of these things, but they’d certainly expect me to become their girlfriend. Because, you know, they were nice guys. Nice girls apparently go to nice guys.

One day like many days, while sitting at a lunch table, a boy called me ‘dyke’ repeatedly. This time I yelled, calling him a ‘faggot’. I don’t hate gay people – I knew at the time that I was sometimes attracted to women and it made me feel so ashamed of myself every time he used that word at me. I tried fighting back with the same language he used, but it didn’t work. He elevated his voice over mine until one of our mutual friends stopped us both. I still think about this, and the many things I’ve said growing up, every day.

During my high school graduation, my friend whispered in my ear while a young black man crossed the stage. I didn’t know him very well; I knew his sister better even though she was in grade below me. She was nice, and I remember she had a lovely smile.

My friend whispered, “He’s the first black person to graduate from here.”

Whether or not this was true, he received his high school diploma to far less cheering than any other student.

After graduation, it was only three months later that I would leave for Arkansas Tech. There I was raped for the first time, and that was where my world and personality would change overnight.

Occasionally, the people I talk to say Harrison is changing. I sincerely hope that’s true. Last time I was there, I saw a black man shopping in Wal-Mart and a young black woman was our waitress at one of the local restaurants.

Current dev to-do list:

  • Sync footsteps (running)
  • Add ambient sounds (wind/leaves, birds, buzzing, crickets)
  • Add script for varying footstep pitch (if needed – unsure)
  • Add in building/fixing animations
  • Add in variables to set for ending sequence
  • Add Thank You for Playing