TRUMP THIS!

There’s rarely a time when I listen to one of Donald Trump’s inarticulate “rants” that I’m not reminded of how similar our political paths have been. In some ways, although his is on a much larger and more treacherous scale, my beginnings in the world of politics closely mirror “The Donald’s.” In a nutshell, I once ran for, and was elected to an office that I was blatantly and summarily unfit to hold. It was a long time ago, but I remember it as if it were just yesterday. It’s hard not to be embarrassed, even today, sixty-nine years later.

Here’s the story: I had just enrolled in a prestigious Junior High School that was in my attendance area. I was thirteen, and Black–the only one in the entire school. Schools were newly integrated, and it was just my luck to be the right age to walk into this untested world of all-White– except me–, hormone- charge environment. To my surprise, the students seemed excessively anxious to make me comfortable. I had expected the opposite. I was braced for insults and name-calling. That’s what I thought would happen. In fact, I’d rehearsed a few choice retorts of my own. But, those words were not needed. The kids were great! Everyone wanted to be my “pal.”

One of them decided to nominate me for the office of Student Council Secretary. She even became my campaign manager, and did a phenomenal job of selling me to the students leading up to election day. I won by a LANDSLIDE! My opponent-a ninth grader who had been on the council for two years, and who was highly qualified for the secretary’s job, was “trumped” by me–the most popular girl on campus! I had never served in any student council office, and had absolutely no clue what a secretary was supposed to do. Oh, I loved the excitement of the campaign: the banners bearing my name, the chants of my supporters at rallies, and the hype that made me feel so important! Once the election was over and I took my seat alongside the Council President, I could only stare at the blank pages of a “Standard” recording book in which I was supposed to write what was said and done in the meetings. I didn’t know where to begin.What had I gotten myself into?!

My incompetence was hard to hide–the scratched out words, ink blots, and incomplete, poorly punctuated sentences made my lack of experience utterly transparent. It was only after weeks of struggling and a lot of tutoring by the Student Council’s Faculty Advisor that I began to get the “drift.” I had to learn to listen with my ears, not my eyes, and to write in brief, succinct, but accurate sentences that gave a clear account of what took place during  meetings: who said what, who motioned what, who seconded the motions, what proposals were voted in, which failed, etc. I soon regretted my victory over the girl who would have sailed through those first months–her experience and preparation far exceeded mine. It was a classic case of the old adage: “Opportunity favors a prepared mind.” I had “trumped” her in the election, but, “to the victor went the spoils.”

I can now report that I ultimately overcame those rough days and months in my first “public” office, and finished the school year feeling pretty proud of the work I finally was doing in my job. Nevertheless, I will always remember the lesson I learned about popularity. I know now that it is a fickle construct of society that can lull one into thinking that they can do things they are not ready to do. The lure is sexy, but the actualization is often disappointing. I hope that will not be the experience of Mr. Trump–but, especially, I hope that it will  not be that of the American People, who deserve better!

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3 Responses to “TRUMP THIS!”

  1. Ernest McCray Says:

    You are right on point here, dear friend.

    • Shirley Robinson Sprinkles Says:

      This isn’t a Student Council election–right? It sometimes feels like it. . .

  2. Ernest McCray Says:

    It sure does feel like something going on in Junior high.

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