Friday, May 23, 2008


"Did you hear about the cougar?" This from one of my boys, a regular group who hangs out in my classroom because they can't stand the kids in the lunchroom. I had, but only on the radio this morning. Sometimes I can't stand to watch the news at night. In a city with a crime rate as high as Chicago, it's too depressing.

"Where?" said Marlon. I pulled up the story in the newspaper. Roscoe Village, I said. (North Side. It might as well be China.) "Did it bite anyone?" said Marlon. No. "I don't care then. If it didn't kill anybody, no, scratch that: if it didn't bite me, I don't care. Just another thing in the white people's neighborhood." This was a typical reaction from Marlon. I've been trying to get him to care about things all year. His grades, for instance.

I looked at another article and saw they had a picture. The boys immediately gathered round. They never pass up the chance to see some blood. "Yo, yo, yo!" said Maynor. "You never told me it was a brown cougar."

What does that matter?

"A brown cougar in the white people's neighborhood? Course it got shot."

The police said it was charging at them. "That's what the police always say," said Marlon.

"Yeah," said Maynor. "The po-po are just looking for an excuse. That's just another Mexican to them. That's it! A Mexican cougar!"

"Why the brown cougar always gotta die first?" said Marlon. Now, he was outraged. I shook my head. They stared at the picture for a minute longer, shrugged, then sat down.

"Yo," said Maynor. "When's lunch over?"

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