Actual text message conversation between me and my friend Meagan earlier today:
Okay, before I go into this, let me address the (other) elephant in the room. Yes, we called our high school history teacher Daddy Tripp. No, we didn’t call him that name to his face. Yes, it sounds creepy and pervy, but there was a completely innocent explanation to it. You see, there were two Mr. Tripps at our school, a father and son. The father taught history, and the son taught chemistry and physics. Thus, we called the elder Tripp “Daddy Tripp” to distinguish between the two. (The son we called “Little Tripp.”) Although I guess we could have just called them Elder Tripp and Junior Tripp. Or Tripp Sr. and Tripp Jr. Now that I think about it, there are a TON of other nicknames we could have given those two that doesn’t now make me feel uncomfortable and weird inside. Anyway. Moving on.
So, yeah. The Lewis and Clark skit. In our history class in high school, we were assigned group projects throughout the semester. We could pick our own groups, and we had complete creative control in how we presented it: we could do it via skit, or charts, songs, whatever. My group’s first assignment was Lewis and Clark, and we decided to update it, as I described in the text message above. Yours truly wrote the script. When we performed it in front of our class, we didn’t think much of it. We got some laughs. Daddy Tripp said something about how creative we were. We came away from it with a general sense of pride. But now that I’ve honestly thought about it, it was kind of racist. And now you guys can see and decide for yourself because I TOTALLY SAVED THAT SHIT AND AM SHARING IT WITH ALL OF THE INTERNET. It wasn’t as blatantly racist as I originally thought, but it does have racist undertones. What’s sad is that we can’t even blame this huge gaffe on our ages, because at the time I think we were either 15 or 16. Old enough to know better. So I’m gonna blame it on teenage stupidity. Without further ado (note, I didn’t edit much, so some spelling might be off):
Lewis and Clark in the New Millennium
Written by Sarah Van Blaricum
Sacajewa: Margie [Okay, let me interject here quickly; I remember we cast Margie because she was the most ethnic girl in our group. WE WERE EVEN RACIST IN THE CASTING.]
Gang girl #1: Lorien
Gang girl #2 Tammy
Street lamp: Meagan
Graffiti on wall: Amanda [WTF?!]
Trash can: Sarah
[Lewis and Clark are on a mission. Not just any mission. A mission assigned to them by President Clinton. The President has just bought a piece of property where a branch of the Pentagon will be built. Problem is, he’s never seen the property; he only knows it’s somewhere in New York City. So he sends his private secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and another guy, named William Clark, to explore this newly acquired territory. Lewis and Clark bring along a Shoshone hippy-like Indian woman named Sacajewa to guide and interpret for them on this journey. Our story takes place where they finally reach the property.]
LEWIS: Are we there yet? We’ve been traveling for a long time. I hope our guide knows what she’s doing.
CLARK: (studying map, ignoring his partner) Well, according to this, we should be–
SACAJEWA: (Smiling REALLY big. She is always smiling) We are here, sirs.
CLARK: We are?
LEWIS: Are you sure?
SACAJEWA: Yes, my ignorant travelers.
[For a moment, there is silence as the three look around. The are in a run-down alley in Brooklyn, New York. Graffiti is everywhere. A battered trash can leans against a street lamp. It is LEWIS who grasps the full extent of the situation]
LEWIS: This is where the Pentagon branch will be? What was the president thinking? You know, this won’t help his reputation any.
CLARK: It is a fixer-upper (begins collecting samples)
LEWIS: (ready to go) Well, we’ve seen it, let’s go tell the president what an idiot he is, collect some samples, and go home. I would like to be back in time to watch the Matlock marathon on TNT.
CLARK: (amused) You watch Matlock?
LEWIS: (defensive) Well, I–
CLARK: You’re a dork, Meriwether.
LEWIS: Shut up, William. You know–
[Lewis and Clark are suddenly interrupted by the presence of two gang girls. They immediately fall silent.]
GANG GIRL #1: Yo, yo, yo, what’s chillin’, peeps?
LEWIS AND CLARK: (look at Sacajewa) What?
SACAJEWA: That translates to, “How is it going?”
CLARK: Oh. Uh, fine, thank you.
SACAJEWA: (to gang girls) Everythin’s tight here, keep hope alive!
GANG GIRL #2: Where your crib at?
LEWIS AND CLARK: Huh?!
SACAJEWA: That translates to, “Where do you come from?”
LEWIS: We come from Washington, D.C. There will be a government building built here. (to Clark, sarcastically) Like they know what that means. (Then, to Sacajewa) Don’t tell them that last part!
SACAJEWA: (to gang girls) Our crib at Washington, D.C. The head honchos gonna be lockin’ down here.
GANG GIRLS: (Look at each other as if they’re not believing what they’re hearing–and will not put up with it.)
GANG GIRL #1: The head honchos ain’t gonna be lockin’ down here, you must be trippin’!
LEWIS AND CLARK: What?
SACAJEWA: That translates to, “The government isn’t going to build a building here, you must be crazy!”
CLARK: Tell them they can’t control what the government does.
SACAJEWA: (to gang girls) You can’t be tellin’ the head honchos what to do!
GANG GIRL #2: We’ll scrap then.
CLARK: Um, what did she say?
SACAJEWA: She said they would fight you then.
LEWIS AND CLARK: WHAT?!
LEWIS: I think now would be a good time to leave. (starts to leave)
CLARK: No. (grabs Lewis and stops him) We have to make peace with the locals. (bravely goes up to the gang girls) Um, yo, we want to, uh, peace out, you know, the, uh, head honchos are, um…peaceful. No scrappin’, we’re cool, we’re chillin’…okay, we tight?
GANG GIRLS: (converse quietly for a few moments, then face the travelers)
GANG GIRL #1: Yeah, we tight. Show me some love, bro.
SACAJEWA: Slap her hands.
CLARK: Oh, uh, yeah. (slaps her hands awkwardly)
GANG GIRL #2: You’s guys can lock down at our crib, cool?
LEWIS AND CLARK: Huh?
SACAJEWA: They’re inviting us to stay with them.
CLARK: It is getting late… (they stare at each other for a few moments) Oh, well, we’ll stay.
SACAJEWA: (to gang girls) That’s tight, that’s cool.
[LEWIS, CLARK, SACAJEWA, and the GANG GIRLS begin to exit]
LEWIS: (on his way out) Hey, girls, do you like Matlock?
Earlier today, I wondered how the hell we got away with it, but after re-reading it, I’m pretty sure it was because our “street talk” was laughably awful, and our classmates might have thought we were making fun of people from Brooklyn. And even though I refer to Sacajawea as Sacajawea and not as “Saca,” in the script, I have memories of us saying “Saca” repeatedly in a “gangsta” kind of way. Guys, the more I remember the worse it gets.
I don’t know how many of my classmates (if any) read this blog, but if they do, and they were present to witness this travesty in humanity and in comedy, let me just offer up my sincere apologies for the racist undertones. We honestly didn’t know.
Accidental racism. It happens.