Back to School

The 2008 Back to School Guide

The Stranger's 2010 Back to School Guide

The Stranger's 2011 Back to School Guide

How to Get In and Out of Trouble

What Are You, New?

Do Stuff!

Everything You Need to Know About School

Your Country

Alumni Testimonials

Lindy West's Guide to Sex and Dating

Drinkin', Druggin', Screwin'

What Are You, Under 21?

Academic Trouble

Your City

All You Need to Know About Everything

A Guide to Sex, Drugs, and Dropping Out

Everything You Need to Know About the City

Classix Made E-Z!

What Are You, Sober?

Everything You Need to Know About Life

Christopher Frizzelle's Guide to Coming Out

Drinking Trouble

Cheap and Fun

What Are You, Idealistic?

Bethany Jean Clement's Guide to Immoderate Drinking

Staying Awake

Hands Off, Jackass

What Are You, Scared?

Social Trouble

Brendan Kiley's Guide to Drugs

There are basically three major state-related institutions waiting for you at the end of your teens: the university, the army, and prison. If you fail to obtain a high school diploma, you will not be allowed to enter the first two institutions, and the remaining options for your future will be either entry-level positions at the very bottom of the job market or committing crimes that'll most likely land you in the third institution. Now, some facts: 30 percent of black male dropouts are behind bars; only 17 percent of all blacks complete college (it's more than 30 percent for whites); 20 percent of active-duty soldiers in the army are black (but blacks make up only 13 percent of the total population); and, as Ivory Toldson, a professor at Howard University, pointed out on NPR recently, there are 1.4 million black males in college and 840,000 in prison. Why bring these numbers up? Because if you are black and you are in college, you have beaten the system. You could easily have ended up in the army, or a low-paying job, or a life of crime, or the prison system.

But now that you have dodged all of these bullets Matrix-style, the future certainly looks bright (by the standards of economists, college graduates in America are enjoying full employment during the Great Recession). You have lots of books to read, lots of classes to attend, lots of papers to research, lots of beautiful people to date. The last thing you want is to get stuck in disputes with white people who really believe that blacks are naturally inferior, are more violent, and should go the fuck back to Africa. No, you do not have time for that nonsense.

So what to do if you chance to come across a person at a party or bar or study group who is clearly racist or saying some racially offensive bullshit? Get up without a word and leave. This is 2013; you have better things to do. Also, you do not want to be provoked into a fight that could get you in trouble and possibly thrown into jail—and we know there are more than enough blacks in jail.

In Zimbabwe, we used to call white Africans who really believed they were a superior race of humans "cooked"—meaning, their brains have been thoroughly baked in the ideological oven of white supremacy. These types are done from crust to core. Look into their eyes: cooked. Listen to their voice: cooked. To argue with such a person is no better than arguing with a cake, or a loaf of bread, or a pot roast. Do not waste your time with a cooked person. You only have one life, and there are lots of interesting things to do with your one life.

The colleges in and around Seattle attract white Americans from all over the country. The minds of many of these students have been cooked in the suburbs and rural towns. What you have to figure out is how to detect these types quickly and with certainty. Some white students, it is true, are actually not racist at the core, but simply suffer from a lack of any real exposure to people who do not look like them. You must not be mean to these types; they can still be saved. But one good thing about cooked people is that they can't hide their true colors for long. It usually takes only a few minutes to realize that you are not dealing with a learner but a nonstarter, and when such is clearly the case, it's best to just walk away. Just pull the plug on the conversation, leave the room (and even the party), and find something more productive or entertaining to do. Your time is better spent trying to learn how to walk on water than trying to prove your humanity to a white person whose brain has been cooked in a racist oven.

And now for a word about racist dogs. This situation is always very awkward, because often the white owner may have had no idea that their dog would bark only at black people. How do we get out of this bit of trouble? The solution is found entirely with the owner of the animal. He/she must do one thing the moment it is clear that their dog barks at the only black person (or persons) at a party or some other kind of gathering: apologize, pick up the damn thing, and lock it up somewhere for the rest of the occasion. What he/she should not do is just leave it there or let it roam freely about the house after apologizing for its racism. All the dog will do is return and continue to bark at the black person (or persons) again and again. Take the animal away, lock it up, and let's forget the whole sad business. recommended