Fall 2013. It was in programming class, about halfway though the semester. My programming teacher, a Filipino guy, would sometimes ask the class questions about current topics that we hadn’t been taught yet, and give bonus points for correct answers. He was very strict, and very particular about the answers he received, they had to be exact. Of my classmates, there was only one black person, a girl who almost perfectly fit the stereotypical persona of the “strong independent black woman.”
One day, the teacher asked a very specific question, I can’t remember what it was, but there was a certain technical term he was looking for as an answer. The black girl raised her hand, and described the answer, but could not produce the specific word.
The teacher kept egging her on, saying “yes, but another way you could say that is…”
After about five back-and-forths between the two of them, the teacher called on a different student, who immediately said the word the teacher was looking for. The teacher gave the second student all the points for the answer, which the black girl took as a personal insult.
As I was packing up after class, I noticed some raised voices in front of me, (I was sitting in the front row). I looked up and saw the black girl right in the teacher’s face, exchanging some choice words with him.
“That’s not fair though, I gave the answer, and then you gave the points to that other guy.”
“You did not know the actual answer, you might know a different answer next class though.”
“No, you always do this to me, and it’s bullshit!”
“Don’t be angry, I cannot give you points for something you did not say.”
I pretended not to notice and left the class while they were still talking. However, when I was a few steps away, I heard a yell from the doorway.
“FUCKING SHIT! FUCK THIS CLASS!”
The black girl stepped outside holding the class trashcan, and tossed it in a random direction. The trashcan flipped a few times in the air, spilling out the contents, and then landed on its side.
At this point I was actually trying my hardest not to laugh. Somehow I’d never imagined that someone could just take a trashcan out of the class and toss it through the air. In my head, I tried to fathom the thought process that would lead to someone throwing a trash can.
I imagine it went something like this: “Didn’t get the bonus points I deserved? Time to toss something, but what…? Trashcan? Yes, that’s brilliant! Out the door it goes!”
(I had another programming class the next semester with the same teacher and classmate, and the two of them actually became very chummy.)