Friday, September 10, 2010

How to deal with horrible people, Lesson 1

So, on my formspring (I have one because I like to laugh at the mean comments people leave, they don't really make me insecure) somebody (a former cheerleader) asked why I did cheer-leading. I just wanted to post my answer because I think a lot of people deal with exclusion and I want them to know that they aren't alone, hang in there, I promise things will get better.

"Ah. I knew this was going to come up. You ask because I didn't fit in, because I was obviously not one of the group, right?
I did it because I love to challenge myself to try new things, because I had always wanted a chance to try gymnastics and I was flexible and light. I did it because it seemed so different, so out-there.
Also, I did it because I had this mythical image of high school, of cheerleaders being the pick of the crop. I'm horrible at flirting, talking to someone I like leaves me a wreak, I just thought that maybe some of that cool would rub off on me and make me how I wanted to be.
I don't think it was a mistake, it taught me a lot about myself. I learned what my physical limits are, and, more importantly, I learned that I have a place where people love me. I have friends that love me because I'm smart, completely un-cool, idiotic, sometimes boy-crazy, compassionate, and myself. I learned that I don't really need to change.
I also learned about prejudice. I know that the cheerleaders (and former cheerleaders) don't want to hear that they acted in a way that could easily be considered racist but, they did. I ate lunch everyday during the summer either alone or with Alonza and her group. They didn't try to be excluded by you all, and neither did I. Nobody invited me to go out with the group, but they let me in with them. Once Alonza and I were running and she told me, crying, that all the white girls hated her. And you know what, it sure looked like they did. I told her that I was excluded, that they didn't like me much either. We both cried and ran and then decided that you all really didn't matter that much. I'm sorry, but a bunch of cheerleaders who don't really care for me anyway aren't worth my time.
I know this is long, but it's really the truth. I don't want to offend anyone, but honestly, all the cheerleaders made me feel like dirt. I thought so much about quitting, I'm shocked that I didn't. I did it because I thought I would love it, and I do love flying, but the cheerleaders aren't 'my' people. I didn't belong. But that's okay now, because I have my friends who make me laugh and never ever leave me alone to cry over my lunch in a thai restaurant."

9 comments:

  1. Thanks. I just felt really violated by her question, like it was accusing me or something. I suppose you'd have to see the two of us interact to know what I mean.

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  2. Amen.
    I cheerleaded for four years, because I love to actually do it and go to competitions and stuff, but the other girls haaaated me. I wasn't one of them. So I didn't sign up for another season.
    You answered the question really well.

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  3. good answer! at my school there was a huge competitiveness between the dance team and the cheerleaders. At points to the extent of hostility. Cheerleaders considered themselves "better" than dancers simply because we didn't do "flying" stunts. everything else was the same. The cheer girls acted superior, like learning a 5 minute dance routine was "easy". And the way they treated the flag or rifle girls? It was pretty atrocious. I did rifles for one year. That shit is HARD (and BRUTAL on your nails). I completely agree with you. Cheerleaders have earned their reputation, in my experiences with them...

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  4. Sometimes I wonder how things would be different If I didn't quit cheer. But I do know that if I didn't quit, I would have definitely spent all my time with you! I'm so sorry I left you there all alone! I'm so happy that you didn't turn into a typical cheerleader because you are SO much better than that! Also, great answer to that question and I'm glad you were a great friend to Alonza.

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  5. Whats still unfortunate is that you aren't able to talk to the people you claim left you out and tell them how you feel, but instead feel its ok to bad talk them and that will make things better. I have been around teenagers in many different sports and schools. Athletes feel left out on every team, not just cheerleading. In fact people feel left out of groups their whole lives, unless they choose to become a part of them just the way they are. I think you're on the right track, but have some misconceptions about the "cheerleaders" as a whole. Saying the entire group was racist really? I know for a fact this isn't true. If you had these feelings why were they never brought to the coaches attention by either you or your parents? Its truely unfair to place blame when you never tryed to solve the "eledged" problem. By the way, how many times did you invite the "cheerleaders" out to lunch? or to your house? or to the movies? or where ever you hang out? Did it ever occur to you that they might have felt that you and Alonza were racist against them? Lastly, you should also think about the fact that confidence sometimes comes across as arrogance to a person with low self esteem. Maybe you were just intimidated by the "cheerleaders".

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  6. Anonymous (who I feel like may be one of them). Honestly, your rant here angers me a little. This was a public and private response to the cheerleader who asked this, I wrote this and gave this to her and then waited a while before publishing this here because I thought that other people may want to read it and take inspiration from it. I'm sure people always feel left out, and I'm not saying all cheerleaders are bad. I'm also not saying that each and every girl was racist, but I know that each of them committed small offenses that easily added up in the end. The coaches weren't as blunt, but I feel like that may have been because of the legal issues that would have arisen should they have been. I'm not saying they were all bad people, just that what they did was awful. And you, unless you were there, can't convince me otherwise. I invited the girls to the pool, I baked them cookies, I did their nails. I did my part and even a little more, and they treated me and every single african-american girl on the team horribly. I tried and tried to please them, I'm sure it was pretty clear that I'm not racist (especially to people of my own race! How in the world would that work?). I don't have a low self-esteem, I have moments where it feels like I'm falling apart, but I can sure as hell tell you that this wasn't the cause of any misconceptions. Sure, I was intimidated, I was the newbie and they had been doing this for years, but I went into this entire thing willing to, eager to, make friends. And they treated me like dirt. So, maybe it wasn't all of them, and I know it's not every cheerleader, but it happened. This is my blog, I'm fine with you sharing your opinion, but I'd really appreciate if you'd at least give me a name. Not doing so is rather cowardly, especially if you are going to be attacking my opinion.

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  7. Hi Allya! I was on the team with you, and I don't recall any of the things that you're claiming. You never did my nails, invited me to the pool, or made me cookies. Does this mean you were excluding me? I didn't take it that way, but it's no different than what you've accused all of us of doing to you. We never excluded anyone, just because we didn't personally invite you doesn't mean that you weren't invited. I remember one day in particular when a group of us were sitting on the track, eating our lunches, and talking. A lot of the other girls walked up and joined us, and we didn't tell them to leave or ignore them. But you stayed away, and sat by yourself almost thirty feet away, eating your lunch, and writing in your journal. You never made the effort to come and talk to us or eat with us.
    In addition, you need to stop telling people that we are all a bunch of racists. This isn't true, if anything, we were the ones being discriminated against. The administration made us work with an athlete who was putting our safety in jeopardy in an effort to avoid legal problems. Our safety came second. You know how dangerous it is to be thrown into the air and caught by a group of girls that have been properly taught and trained. Alonza never showed up to practice, and didn't do the work, she didn't learn how to do the job she tried out for and showed all of us in no uncertain terms how much she "cared" about her teammates and our safety. Any one of us, flyers especially, could have been seriously hurt. This should matter to you, you were a flyer too. She swore during games, and yelled at the other girls, and posted pictures of herself drinking and giving lap dances online. If anyone else was doing this, no matter their race, we would have been frustrated with them as well and that person would have been removed from the team. We all need to keep in mind that, when everything blew up, Alonza gave our cell phone numbers out to KGW, and we were being called 24/7, in class, at home, and late into the night. When we went home, the accusations didn't go away because we saw our faces all over the TV. At school, everything was worse because a lot of the more ignorant students and a few of the teachers would come up to us calling us "stupid, racist whores" and telling us that we "got what we deserved." We didn't hate all the African Americans on the team, in fact one was my base and I knew that she would never have done the things that Alonza did, because she cared enough to learn. I gave Brianna a ride to and from practices, games, and events. She ate dinner at my house 2 and 3 times a week during the short season we had, she was, and continues to be, my friend. Implying otherwise is offensive to me, someone who is so accusatory towards the rest of us should have at least tried to check facts before spewing your anger and lies on the internet. We were frustrated with Alonza for what she did to all of us, and how she destroyed the team.
    I hope this clears things up for you and everyone you've told your one sided story to.

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  8. Former Frequent FlierFriday, May 06, 2011

    I actually stumbled on your job since I have a thing for doing my nails and Konad but let me tell you kiddo, if you think middle/high school cheerleading has racists, wait'll you get to college. You should look at team composition versus school demographics because a mixed race school with an all-white team is usually a bad omen. I've been to 2 universities and cheered on one of them and it was a rotten time that finally made me quit cheerleading for good. The girl who was in charge (we didn't have a coach, another bad sign) was captain and at first I was happy to have made tryouts since over 30 showed up and less than 8 new members were added (old members had to try out too).

    At first I was flying because I was the smallest member on the team by about 2 inches and 30lbs. Well, captain never liked me and tried to make me base a HUGE girl. We put her in prep- she fell out. We were told to put her into a liberty which she was NOT ready for and she fell all over me and I was sprawled on the ground. All I got was a look of smug contempt while everyone asked if I was fine.

    Bear in mind, I was a level 5 all star in high school and I primarily flew or served as a flyer-base in 2 and a half and higher pyramids. I am by no means a quitter. My own coach and teammates would never put me in danger like that even if they did exclude me from social outings and ignored me and the minority teammates unless they wanted something (like to hold an end of my painted banner at the homecoming game). They might not have actively been "racist" but much as I tried to at least make an effort to understand them, they did not return the courtesy. I was there when they had boy troubles, there to run summer training and willing to listen but I was more a free therapist and little more.

    If cheerleading is important, learn to endure them and know that there will come a day when they will get older and move on. There'll always be crappy people no matter where you go in life. I stayed on my high school team and became captain despite generally being unliked but still recognized for my skill. I left in college since it just stopped being fun for me and the safety risk was NOT worth it.

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