My granddaughter is very smart and has always done well in school. My granddaughter is very pretty, loves, volley ball and loves to be on Facebook. Her secret problem started when she was offered the opportunity to go to Royal West Academy, an upscale semi private high school. It is what in my day was called a high school for the rich kids. Parents who could afford to send their children here did to keep them away from the bad influences supposedly found in the public school system. These academies were designed to give these rich children a push in the right direction with the best teachers and a curriculum designed for success. The school by design had the rich meeting with the rich and making important contacts while young that could lead into merger marriages, or business deals later in life. Field trips to Europe, skiing trips, rugby and golf were all part of the curriculum; they were the sport of the rich. Not much has changed except that if you are poor and are smart the academy will allow you to test and if you pass they will let you attend their school. My granddaughter passed her parents were thrilled and her silent nightmare began.
My granddaughter told me in her 1st year that she was embarrassed by her teacher’s comments in school and I asked her why? She said that every time the teacher was trying to explain something to the class about something pertaining to Black people, or poor people he would say, “isn’t that right to her?” and the whole class would look at her. I told her to speak to her teacher and ask him to stop that, and tell him it made her feel uncomfortable. She said that she would rather not and did not want him to be mad at her. I thought no more of it, because she never talked about it again, her marks stayed high and she appeared to be happy.
Then the field trips came, her mother’s divorce and not enough money for the extras that seemed a necessity if you were attending that school. The girls in her group started saying things like,” were going shopping, but I guess you don’t have enough money to come, so we will just see you tomorrow”. There would be no more hot chocolate dates with her friends’ after school and often the school would have to donate some of the money towards her field trips if she was to go. Her dad had stopped providing child support and in fact he quit working sued for custody of his oldest son and was granted it from the courts and used this custody to sue for child support from my daughter and got that too. Now there was no money extra money for anything and in fact they were barely making ends meet. I helped where I could, but the money just was not there and still she said nothing just kept studying and smiling and getting good marks.
At this point my granddaughter is suffering on the inside and keeping it all to herself and had been doing so for 2 years. She is doing great and on the honor roll for the second year her best 2 girlfriends at Royal West Academy come to my house to watch movies eat popcorn and hang out and they even do a couple of sleep overs, but I am beginning to sense that all is not quite what it should be. My granddaughter seems to be embarrassed that she is not rich like her friends.
I had Thanksgiving dinner this year and while we are sitting having a quiet GrandPa and granddaughter moment she tells me that her 2 best friends are no longer her friends. They had pulled her aside in the hall at school and explained to her that they were never really her friend and that they were only pretending to be her friend because they were afraid not to be; because she was from the ghetto and everyone knows how tough and mean ghetto blacks can be. They went on to say that continuing their relationship with her was just bringing too much stress into their lives and they needed to be free of her. How alone she must have felt at that moment. The tears were welling up in her eyes as she fought to keep her voice from cracking, but she went on and not one tear fell. My heart ached for her, but she did not seem to want my opinion, but rather she wanted me just to listen and let her vent and so that is what I did.
Her ex-best friends asked if when they passed in the halls if she could still act like they were friends and try not to hurt them. She told them where to go and walked away.
My granddaughter no longer wants to be in Royal West Academy and feels that she does not belong there. She longs for the public school system again where her friends were her friends and her enemies were out in the open. Next year will be the prom and she fears that she will have no date and will stand out even more than she does now.
I feel bad for her, because she did not need Royal West Academy, she was doing just fine where she was and she was happy with her friends. This child would have done well no matter what school she attended. My granddaughter has discovered some hard truths about prejudice, racial profiling and stereotyping at an early age. I would like to say that I am shocked by what her friends have done to her, but I am not. My granddaughter was the token black friend and probably being friends with her afforded her so-called friends some protection benefit, who knows for sure, but what is clear is that she will never forget the day she was betrayed and how much it hurt.
Hopefully she will finish her senior year at Royal West Academy and graduate with honors. The gossip about coming clean about their friendship is on Facebook and she has blocked them from her site. There are no more tears in her eyes now, but some how she does not look as innocent, or as naive as she used to. There is a harder look in her face now when she talks about the friends she has a not so trusting way of talking about them. Before going to Royal West Academy my granddaughter would have said that there was no prejudice of any kind in her world; she can no longer say that. Only time will tell how this one day will affect the rest of my granddaughter’s life, but that it will is for sure.