Last Easter Sunday I saw the most disturbing video since I made the poor decision to watch a beheading of an innocent American by an Al Qaeda militant on YouTube. Three people playing with a gun in the car, a really cute looking girl waving it saying, “See what we do to lyin’ ass hoes? We draw down on ‘dem hoes!” and some other gangbanger posturing while a young man says, “Where you from? You making me nervous.” A guy in the back says something about a clip, and then the absolute worst happens…the gun goes off and hits the man next to the woman in the head. The blank look and moan that comes from the man as his lifeblood spills like a hose is something I will not soon forget. The video is available online, but I will not post it here.
Because the event happened yesterday, April Fool’s Day, I was doggedly searching Facebook and Google to see if what I saw was a joke. In so doing, I discovered more details about the three people. There seem to be some gang affiliations by the men and lots of cash waving in social media. What struck me, however, was the girl who did the shooting. Once I learned her name, Cassandra Damper, I looked her up. On a page that is now deactivated, I saw a pretty and sweet girl who appeared to live a double life. In fact, she had two separate pages. One page, “Cassandra Damper” was a clean, easy-breezy page with lots of white friends and a mix of people of other races. The other, “Sandy Dee” was pocked with sketchy looking folks, the majority all black. Both pages were hers. Both told very different stories about this 25-year-old woman.
Her “clean” page reflected a cheerful, friendly girl who appeared to have had some formal education and gainful employment. In a podcast about her musical talent, she mentions that she went to prep school where she was bused into white neighborhoods.
When I showed her page to close friend of mine, it was extremely hard to reconcile the girl who shot that poor man with the one we saw. “This can’t be her!”
Yes, it was.
While extreme, this is a prime example of a young black woman of promise feeling the need to “be hard for the hood” to maintain a certain authenticity with her community while trying to present a more “wholesome” face to the greater and larger society. Judging from the podcast, this young women was never “hard,” but playing up for approval from the low-quality, anti-intellectual ratchet circle she on her periphery. The pressure to “keep it real” divides many of us who fear the backlash that living life like a square means losing our “black card.” The attention seeking and need for approval can be strong, even when you know you need to outgrow it.
Just listen to Cassandra Damper in this podcast, and listen to how sweet she sounds. Apparently,
she was an accomplished musician from a family of dulcimer players.
How can the woman with the gun and the woman I see here be the same? How does a girl who goes to prep school and learns to play the dulcimer feel the need to posture as if in some bad parody of a gang banging movie? Whether ruled an accident or not, her life is forever changed. Once promising, sweet, pretty and innocent appearing, that mug shot will dog her for the rest of her life.
I bet she wished she’d have stayed home and practiced her dulcimer.