Why You Can’t Stop Me From Speaking Ill of Thomas Jefferson
Again: Why were there no African-Americans in Shortridge High School? Because of what was then believed to be a law of nature, a natural law. Nature had obviously color-coded people for a reason. Otherwise, what the hell were all these different colors for? And why was Thomas Jefferson, possibly the most beloved of our founding fathers after George Washington, able to write “all men are created equal,” while meaning only white males—not women, God knows—and while owning slaves? Because of what was then believed to be a law of nature. Jefferson’s slaves were mortgaged, by the way. What a shame that you can no longer take the cleaning lady, along with the saxophone, down to the hock shop if you’re short on cash. Those were sure the good old days.
In quite a few ways, though, it was still the good old days for white males when I was growing up. I could still feel superior, even in the view of law enforcement agencies, to half my own race and 100 percent of all the others. That was comforting! Not only that, but I could get away with all kinds of crap because I was from a good family. But that’s another story.
In our all-white sandlot football games—“Jeffersonian games,” you might call them—the ad hoc captain of the side preparing to kick off would call out, “Are you ready, Crispus Attucks?” And the captain of the receivers would inevitably reply, “We are ready, Ladywood.” Ladywood was the name of a Catholic girls’ school in Indianapolis. Come to think of it, that “Ladywood” business had an anti-Catholic ring to it. Come to think of it, we were not only male and white, but also Protestant. So that “Ladywood” insult was a kind of twofer.