Success is about personhood, not race
In this somewhat confusing excerpt, Davis tries to explain how the community of Chapel Hill functions. Success, failure, and good or bad treatment "just all depends on who you are and what you're doing and who you know," as opposed to race. The Hargraves Community Center plays a significant role in offering African Americans a place to meet.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Nate Davis, February 6, 2001. Interview K-0538. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
RG: What do your hear from your 17-year-old son about race relations at the high school now?
ND: I don't hear so much about race relations, you know, as with any institution these days they are good and positive. My son is a pretty good student, he's an athlete, so he may not encounter some of the things that the other black kids may encounter. And also with Chapel Hill, some people may deny this and say it's not true, but it's who you are, and that's the way it is.
RG: Who you are. Can you explain that a little further?
ND: Uh-huh. It all depends on how you were treated.
RG: But who's treated good, and who's not treated good? Who's treated with respect, who's treated with high aspirations and who's treated-
ND: The person that's treated with respect, all depends on who you got, who's got your back, and that's the bottom line. You know, if you may have a student out there that may have one parent in the home, and the mother's working three or four jobs, but if the community is behind you, you're not going to have too much of a problem, and I'm not saying the community's going to be there to support you, well they'll be there to support you, but to hold your hand when you do something wrong that you shouldn't be doing, but if you're mistreated, you know, in this community, if the powers that be know that you may have someone that's going to look out for you, they kind of lay off you a little bit more. I'm not saying that you get away with doing anything wrong. Like when I was growing up, well and I'm not that much younger than Fred, but you know, you had people like Fred Ballard and Hank Anderson, Hilliard Caldwell, and people like that, and there's others out there, you know, that's going to take care of you. You know, we came to Hargraves and our parents had come to Hargraves, we didn't have nothing to worry about. They knew we was at Hargraves, you know. Miss Lucille Caldwell was here when you was at Hargraves. And there was a certain time she was going to send you home when you was supposed to be home. And they knew what you were going to get into over here.
RG: Were you saying in some ways that it depends on who you are at the high school-
ND: Not just at the high school but in the community, yeah, it's not just a school issue. But um, and I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, because I think there's certain people in this community that look out for all the young people. As for myself, if you want to, if you really want to get my dander and get me angry, you know, mistreat a young person. And I still have to catch myself sometimes from getting too angry. Like some people may say something like, 'those people' that live in public housing, or 'those people,' or 'that child,' you know. And I really get angry when people say that, regardless of who it is. Because they're labeling those people, and to me, it makes me feel like that they feel like they're better than they are, you know. One thing about Hargraves, if you come here, you can be treated the same way, regardless of who you are. And I think some kids kind of take advantage of that when they come over here, because I may, they may do something and I may, it may seem that I'm getting angry, you know, and they'll stand there and look at me and say well, he's not going to make us leave, or he's not going to do that, and they say well if he do, let's just go stand around the back of the building about five or ten minutes and then he's going to come looking for us. But this is a place for them to come and have fun and be protected or whatever, but yeah, there's a lot of people in this community that take care of the young people in this community, and the same thing with the school system. You have to go there and be an advocate for them and speak out for them, and make sure they're not being mistreated. Like I say, it just all depends on who you are and what you're doing and who you know. I reckon it's the same way everywhere, with just about everything.