Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Boys Will Be Boys — and Sometimes Men

Like most everyone else in the world around me in high school, I was pretty much smitten with the image of the playboy lifestyle. The kind of life which guys like Brett Kavanaugh lived. I saw it as an escape from the thug drama that was my real life.

I reckon that John C. Fremont Sr. High School in Los Angeles was once the very rowdiest school in the United States. We invented the “Hully Gully” dance. Our athletic teams were legendary, and if we didn’t win in the fourth quarter, our team boosters would see to it that we won the fifth quarter.

An incident in which 22 students from a visiting school were hospitalized following a football fifth quarter incident led to all our athletic teams being suspended from championship eligibility for a year. We laughed and we joked, but we didn’t play.

As rowdy as we may have been, it seems that at Fremont we were taught that there are consequences for bad behavior, a lesson the goody two-shoes kind of boys at fancy prep schools like Georgetown Prep, where Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh attended, seem to have never absorbed.

That’s the ingredient that makes White Male Privilege really, really special: the anticipation that there are to be no negative consequences for previous bad behavior.

Neither at Fremont, or later at the notorious Que House of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, did I observe the behavior that Kavanaugh and his privileged pals and their girlfriends engaged in routinely: drunken underage bacchanals, gang-rape “trains,” daily country club visits or “beach week” rituals.

Maybe some of my old pals were debauched and I didn’t know it, but none of them are nominated to the Supreme Court either. As far as I know, they are all as “clean as the board of health.”

Everything I know about my high school classmate Richard Stebbins is exemplary. He was a gold medalist on the 4×100 relay team at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. He recently retired after a career as a teacher in the Prince George’s County Public Schools. Another high school buddy was a journalism professor at Howard University. We came “up the rough side of the mountain,” so to speak. We turned out OK.

I did some zany things with my college roommate David Hammons. Nothing which would disqualify him or me from a lifetime appointment on The Court. He once painted a monster-sized footprint onto the convertible top of my red British roadster. We went to a Halloween party once in blackface, calling ourselves “hobos.” Nothing to be ashamed of: now David’s installations at major New York City museums and galleries fetch upwards of seven figures each.

There was one guy I met when I was dean of pledges at the Xi Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. at San Jose State University. His name was John. I thought he was jiving, whenever he would say he was going to become a dentist, and that he would have a successful practice among well-to-do patients in order that he might to the real work of his career: helping the poor.

John was charming, good-looking. Ha! I thought to myself, a fat chance a privileged guy like John would ever give a second thought to anyone less advantaged than himself. And then I learned, decades later, that Dr. John Maupin had become president of Meharry Medical College! That is precisely what he had done, all his career, dedicated himself to those who never had the privileges he had in life! Wow!

Sure, there are folks I knew who “had larceny in their hearts,” who gave in to the “dark side.” And they paid their debts to society for their misbehavior. But those guys didn’t keep getting away with it, or sweep it under the rug like Kav and his crew.

The Homeboy notion with my guys was “you must not get caught.” Home Slice in Da Hood didn’t know about, let alone seek to perpetuate, a culture that misbehavior doesn’t matter because there are no consequences for certain guys, from certain families, regardless of how they act.

As far as judicial temperament and common sense — Mother Wit — are concerned, I would feel far more comfortable with some former Fremontians or Omega Psi Phi, Que Dogs nominated to serve on the Supreme Court than this elitist, ideological hack who may have once attempted to rape a girl: Brett Kavanaugh.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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