“At exactly nine o’clock the bell rang and Ms. Schaefer stormed into the room. Disheveled and visibly nervous, she never bothered to introduce herself or say good morning. She wrote her name on the board in shaky, wavering strokes and took attendance. The class instantly interpreted her behavior as a display of lack of trust and concern. That day I learned my second ghetto lesson: never let on that you don’t trust someone. Even if that person has bad intentions toward you, he will take offense at your lack of trust.
Ms. Schaefer spat off the names like salted peanut shells.
‘Who wants to know?’
‘Chocolate Fondue Edgerton.’
‘That’s my name, ask me again and you’ll be walking with a cane.’
‘I don’t know how to pronounce the next one.’
‘You pronounce it like it sounds, bitch, Maritza Shakaleema Esperanza the goddess Tlazotéotl Eladio.’
‘So you’re here.’
‘Do crack pipes get hot?’”
—Paul Beatty, The White Boy Shuffle (1996)