You wouldn’t think that moving from Chicago to Philadelphia is a big move. But it really is. Especially if you lived there your whole life before you moved to Philly, so you have that Chicago accent. My first day at my new high school all the other juniors thought I got kicked out of my last school all the kids did all day was talk about me...and they were NOT quite about it.
‘Cause like- have you heard Damien talk? He sounds like a drug dealer or something. He probably got expelled and he always slurs his words together. He might even come to school high. Do you think he would get expelled for that?’
When in reality I’ve never been suspended. Another great thing about my school? Their speech department. Or at least thats what the vice principal was telling me in her office. She thought that because I was the talk (no pun intended) of the school that it might be in ‘my best interest’ to take two speech classes. One to assess if I had any other ‘setbacks’ and the other is specifically for kids with accents and slurs. So of course I agreed so that she would dismiss me. Biggest mistake of my Junior year. No my high school career.
So all my speech classes started the second week of school. My first two classes of the day on Monday and Friday. Let me just tell you- when I walked into that class I felt like an asshole. There were kids in wheelchairs and girls without hair and here I am just standing in the doorway. The least impaired looking one in the whole room. I mean, I don’t think you need to be impaired to need or be sent to speech therapy, but it was really obvious that I didn’t really belong in the room.
“So...Damien, what brings you here?”
“I was referred here by the vice principal. She said my accent was a ‘setback’ so here I am. “
“Well, I noticed you’re from Chicago. But you don't have any issues with your sentence or word structure. I’m going to send you down the hall to your next class, this one isn’t really for you, this class is for the mentally and physically disabled. So I am not really sure why you were sent here.”
I didn’t even bother going to my next ‘therapy’ class. I left and went straight to the office. I walked past the nurses station and past the waiting chairs, then walked straight up to the secretary's desk.
“I would like to talk to vice principal Rasheed. I can wait.”
Twenty minutes later I’m admitted to her office. I just walk right around her and sit in the most comfortable chair I can find, I’m going to be here awhile. She takes note of my obviously pissy disposition and just gives me a snarky once over.
“I hope you know I am counting this as you skipping your speech classes- if you need to talk to me, I want you to do it on your lunch or between classes, plus you are just counteracting what is in your-”
“Don’t you dare say ‘my best interest’. There is nothing wrong with the way I talk, I am not from the same city as you, therefore I have a different way of talking to people. Its how I grew up. That does not make me anymore or less than you, and I would love to know why one of the classes you sent me to was for the mentally and physically disabled.”
I didn't even have to wait for her to answer me. The head of the school walked in and escorted me out onto the school’s lawn. He told me to go home, that my parents had been called and that I was going to get into serious trouble the next time I skipped classes- for a ‘good reason’ or otherwise. So I walked my angry ass home, a thirteen mile walk. Took me two hours, but I was pretty mellow once I got home...my mother on the other hand was completely livid. They told her that I was cutting and causing a scene in the office.
“Those self righteous bastards.” That was all she could manage after hearing what actually happened to me. So then she went into full out terminator mode. She wanted the school to be publically humiliated. So she pulled me out of that school and she started researching everything she could think of to make what they did seem as incriminating as possible.
It took about two weeks for the whole state to find out about the issue I was having. Apparently there is a small recording device in the V.P’s office, that had caught the whole thing on tape. One of the secretary's had found it very sad...so of course what did she do? Upload the video to YouTube spilling all my information in the info bar. After that people started paticians, walk outs and strikes, all under my name. So naturally I have been getting all the heat and love for this movement. Thats were I am going now, Im in a cab in New York on my way to central park to give a speech about the issues people go through, because of course a hormonal seventeen year old would know best.
So here I go, walking up the steps to the podium, about to spill my guts on the altar of sacrifice. Just because I lived in Chicago until I was sixteen.
“Hay there. This is a huge crowd...wow, well Im flattered. I just wanted to say- That no matter the language, accent, or even dialect- we are all entitled to our voices. They are a part of what makes us special and should never be ridiculed; or under appreciated. To quote my favorite movie “Pump Up The Volume”, ‘TALK HARD. THE TRUTH IS A VIRUS.’ Goodnight”