December 01, 2003
Let's play master and servant

One story I missed while I was on break was this flapdoodle over the naming of "master" and "slave" hard drives. Commenter John W says:

In high school, we had something called Senior Slave Day, an auction to buy a "slave' for one day during school hours. Out of 800 students , only 3 were Blacks, so who knew? That was 1959. Now that the school is 75% Black, do you think they're stil holding slave day auctions?

Actually, we had the same thing at my high school, in 1988. And the senior who went for the highest price was my then-boyfriend, who was the grandson of a prominent black politician. I guess he inherited a bit of the knack for self-salesmanship, because unlike the other students who showed up in their usual beachwear, he dressed in a charcoal-gray suit and tie, with sunglasses. I was a biased observer, of course, but I venture to say he looked hot. I guess I wasn't the only one who thought so, because a couple of girls teamed up and bought him. (I don't remember what they did with him -- something innocuous.)

Although I remember one person noting the irony of him selling himself as a slave, for the most part we were in the tunnelvision of high school and not really thinking about the historical context. I expect he didn't think about it a lot either; knowing him, he probably just wanted to do his bit for the class, and thought it would be fun. But he was the only black person who put himself on the block, and he was, in a way, in a unique position to do it: because of his distinguished lineage, because he wasn't from the projects (as most black students at the school were), because he was popular with all races. It would have been a little weird if someone from "The Jungle", as the project kids called their neighborhood, had sold himself to the mostly white student body.

But at the time, it all seemed quite innocent. I remember going up to the music room that afternoon and seeing him coming out, changed back into shorts and T-shirt but with the shades still on.

"Well well, it's the BMOC," I said drily.

He smiled, and looked rather pleased with himself.

Posted by Camassia at December 01, 2003 06:18 PM | TrackBack
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