A Necessary Struggle

Part 2

In a major dominated by males, Russell’s classes had a knack for being filthy with girls. They yearned to attend his lecture, to stare into his hypnotizing brass eyes as they listened to his smooth, Barry White baritone spew speeches on US-China relations or public policy. Harmony Monroe, sat in the front row, biting down on her pencil, and tapping her lilac nails on her laptop wasn’t one of those girls. She didn’t care that Russell was the equivalent of any man that adorned the cover of People’s Most Beautiful edition. She was enthused by his unlimited knowledge of all things political from the war in the Middle East to the conflict in Darfur. Despite her mother being a surgeon and having a cardiologist father, her life’s passion was to save the world in a different way. She wanted to defend those that society shunned; she wanted to be a lawyer.

“Nigger is different from Nigga.” Harmony clarified twisting around in her chair and facing her peers.

“If we’re going to have this discussion in class let’s refrain from using the word.” Professor Russell quickly reacted leaning against the desk.

“Can I say the latter then?” Sean Templeton asked sitting behind Harmony. He came second to her as the student with the curliest hair. His rosy cheeks gleamed awaiting her answer.

“As a member of the race in the discussion, I affirm with a resounding hell no!” Will harked sitting in the chair closest to the door in a red Nike T-shirt and faded blue jeans.

“If I, as a white girl can’t say either then what makes them different?” Kirsten asked with her brunette bob hanging around her oblong face. The resident overachiever that always hit a wall when trying to surpass Harmony’s GPA crumpled her forehead.

“Saying nigger will get you killed,” Chris uttered. ” And saying nigga will get you a beat down, enough said” She leaned back in her seat with her arms tied behind her head as the sun pouring through one of the three windows beamed over her.

“What did I say” Professor Russell interjected.

“How is that fair, black people can say it but everyone else can’t” Lisa responded sitting in the back of the class with her messy ponytail and a pug nose.

Harmony stood up from her desk between the narrow row with one hip out and one hand on her waist looking out at her well-versed comrades, “Look, let me make this simple. When a white person says either word it invokes visions of plantation life, beatings, working from sun up to sun down without pay, nonetheless; humans dangling from trees for amusement, raping, and the sale of families on the auction block. It brings up anger and disgust; fear for some but for me it brings up my inner Nat Turner. My eyes see blood red. When I hear a black person say it I’m fine because that’s my family. But personally, I choose to say neither.”

“It’s reverse racism. It separates the races in this country.” Kirsten rebutted slamming her hand on the desk.

“I never understood that reverse racism thing. Also, how can you hate something that comes from you?” Will lectured slouching back in his chair. “Remember everyone descended from Africa. We didn’t enact segregation. What did we do that was racist? Refresh my memory.” Will lectured.

Fifty percent drunk and thirty-five percent sleepy, dirty blonde Richard opened his slender, wide mouth, “Designating one word for a race is not going to upset the balances of society. The real issue we should focus our attention on is the listlessness of Congress.”

Chris shot up with a slow clap, “That’s what I’m saying.”

Professor Russell’s cell phone timer abruptly rang, and the heated discussion came to a sudden halt. The students hustled shutting down laptops and closing books.

“Remember to read chapters seven through twelve by Monday.” Professor Russell blurted.

Harmony loaded her silver laptop and book into her worn, brown leather messenger bag. Her mother bought it when she graduated from high school. It was going to last her until the last day of law school, maybe further.

Kirsten pranced from her chair down the row she shared with Harmony. “Are you going to Pulse tonight?”

“Of course. Are ya’ll?” Harmony asked the stragglers still in the bright, frigidly cold classroom.

“Hell Yeah!” Jason excitingly answered finally opening his shut mouth.

“It’s the weekend, so you know it,” Chris affirmed while checking her text on her phone.

“We have reading due for Monday.” Kristen reminded them.

“How long does it take you to read a page, an hour?” Will asked.

“Kirsten, College is not just about reading, papers, and exams. It’s learning how to master the art of balancing an academic and social life.” Harmony said pulling a black pen from her tresses.” Tonight is nineties night, it’s going to be thrown off. So if you miss it, sucks for you. But you know Cairo can spin and his group, Bliss, is performing and you know they’re good.” 

“What? Are you his publicist now?” Richard stated.

“No, he’s my homeboy,” Harmony assured them.

“Really! I thought he was your boyfriend.” Kirsten uttered the conclusion she came up with from always seeing them together.

“No, I date Wes Durante.” Harmony slid the leather bag strap on her shoulder.

“Who is Wes Durante?” Kirsten asked even more confused.

“The running back. Damn girl, you need to get out more.” Will suggest.

“Don’t feel bad Kirsten. Everybody thinks she and Cairo are hooking up,” Sean said.

Harmony playfully pushed Sean. “They do not. We’re friends, good friends. If it weren’t for Lela, Safiya, and Alyssa, Cairo and I would be best friends. We’re just friends, just friends. Do I need to paint it in the sky or get a billboard?”

“Don’t try to convince us, convince your mouth because Cairo comes out of it more than Wes,” Chris stated twisting her anchor earring upright.

Harmony waved them off, “Whatever. I have to go met Cai…” She stopped. “My friends at Jolt.”

Walking out the door Harmony knew they were right. It was a fact she grappled with. Being the running back’s girlfriend in a state that had an unnatural love affair with college football was a feat in itself. Being best friends with a guy that could easily pass for Shemar Moore’s younger brother since freshmen year brought an extra amount of limitless drama to many aspects of her life.

Should Kirsten listen to them and go to the club night?

Should Kirsten listen to them and go to the club night?

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