The Urban Griot College Boy: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781451623949

College Boy: A Novel

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9781451623949: College Boy: A Novel

After hard-fought battles to include African Americans as qualified students within the white American educational system, the opportunity for higher learning still remains a struggle.

This is Troy Potter's story.


He is an African American young man from inner-city Philadelphia. He grew up with dreams of becoming a basketball player but now that he's eighteen he must learn the rules to a whole new game: college. How will Troy survive at a predominantly white school? Will he be afforded the same quality of education as his fellow students? How will he learn to become a successful black man in a white world? This penetrating novel takes a close look at the world of academia from a youthful African American perspective.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

The Urban Griot is the pen name for Omar Tyree, the New York Times bestselling author of such novels as Flyy Girl, A Do Right Man, and, most recently, Diary of a Groupie. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. For more information, visit the author's website at www.TheUrbanGriot.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Day One

"Hello, students, my name is Pam Whatley, and I'm your course counselor from now until the time you graduate from State University. You all have been accepted to this university under the condition that you maintain a two-point-oh grade point average as members of C.M.P. C.M.P. stands for 'College Motivation Program.' What this means is that you all are required to take strengthening courses in math, general science, and reading and writing. You also will be required to enter an academic student course, which is a two-part class designed to help needy students in study skills and planning.

"You students have been placed in this program as a result of low S.A.T. scores, but that does not mean that you're incapable. State University has specifically installed this particular program to help strengthen your academic skills in needed areas. After the completion of your first year's courses in C.M.P., you will have no further requirements from the university and may work in subjects of your major. Now, I would like to meet you all," said the heavyset, cinnamon-skinned woman in a hot-pink skirt suit. She pointed to the tall and slim student seated in the front row. "So you are...?"

"I be Troy Potter, Ms. Whatley," he answered jokingly. The other freshmen giggled. Ms. Whatley assumed that Troy was a bit overconfident, a headstrong inner-city boy with a chip on his shoulder.

"I see. So you're pretty smart, hunh?" she asked, smiling to herself at his humor. "I hope your grades after the first term will reflect that."

"Yeah, me too," he said.

"Who are you?" Ms. Whatley continued. Her eyes focused on the student sitting directly behind Troy.

"My name is Peter Barnes," the second student answered. Peter was cream-colored, with thick brown hair and an unblemished baby face. He stood when he introduced himself, drawing the undivided attention of his twenty-seven classmates.

"Well, aren't you a properly mannered young man," Ms. Whatley said to him. Troy turned his head with a frown and glanced out the window, unfazed. He figured that standing up was unnecessary.

"My name is Matthew Forbes," said the next, loosely dressed student. Matthew wore extra long shorts and a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt obviously too large for him. He was as brown as Troy, with short wavy hair. He brushed his small waves to the left and kept a part to the right.

A well-dressed, darker-brown-toned student giggled for no apparent reason from the back row, grabbing Ms. Whatley's attention. "Excuse me, Mr. Chuckles, you mind telling us what your name is?" she asked, challenging him.

"My name is James Clayton," he responded in a mellow tone. James spoke as if he were planning to seduce Ms. Whatley, making some of the students snicker. He then turned and faced the rather large student sitting beside him, who had continued to smile since Troy's introduction.

"Tell her your name, homes," James said to the larger student.

Skeeerrk!!

Bruce helped himself from his chair, smiling at the noise it had produced from scraping a newly waxed tile floor.

"Ah," he began, taking a peek at Troy, who portrayed a goofy look, a tilted head, and an open mouth. Bruce stopped in his tracks and cracked the hell up. Several classmates were getting rather bored with all the silliness going on. They decided not to join him. But Troy did.r

"Hold up. My man Troy is makin' me laugh," Bruce said, trying to gather himself. "Yeah," he responded, finally settling down, "my name is Bruce Powell."

Witnessing the massive size of the young man, Ms. Whatley was curious about his college status. Bruce was six-two, 220, with massive arms, legs, and shoulders.

"Are you on the football team?" she asked.

Bruce shook his head before he answered. "Naw. But I plan to go out for the team."

"Well, good luck," Ms. Whatley told him, moving on.

"My name is Tanya Moore," said a bashful girl who sat in the front row next to Troy.

"Hmm, don't you have a Southern accent," Ms. Whatley commented.

"Yep," Tanya agreed, grinning. "I'm from Atlanta, Georgia," she said. Her reddish brown, silky hair matched her skin and eye color.

"I'm from Atlanta, too," Bruce yelled to her. Tanya turned and smiled at him. Troy looked back to Bruce and gave him an "OK" hand signal in reference to the pretty, well-shaped Southern belle.

The lagging introductions took nearly forty minutes for the twenty-eight students. Ms. Whatley then took a deep breath and clasped her meaty hands together. "Well, since we've all met each other, it's almost time for the freshman picnic on the west lawn. There will also be a dance, later on tonight, in the Student Activity Center, next to the Baxton Dormitory Hall. I've given you all a map of our large campus, and I'll see you tomorrow at nine o'clock, sharp, to orient you for your math and reading placement exams," she informed them. She gathered the leftover maps and pamphlets while the students filed out of the room.

Troy was the first to speak as several of the guys walked in the same direction toward the picnic area. "Yo, we was buggin' out in there, cuz," he said, followed by Bruce, who had already taken a liking to him. "And that counselor's a little overweight, but I'd do her," Troy added.

"Yeah, mayn, you had me crackin' the hell up," Bruce said, walking beside him.

"Yo, homes, I'll meet y'all over there," said James. "I gots to go change."

"Aw'ight, troop, we'll be over there somewhere," Matthew answered.

Bruce and Troy chuckled, watching James walk away in a shirt and tie.

"Hell he wear a suit and tie for anyway, as hot as it is out here?" Troy responded to Bruce. Everyone else wore shorts and T-shirts in the ninety-degree August weather.

The pack of freshmen drifted toward the fried chicken table in the picnic area, flooded by thousands of White students. Their small Black group was a few specks of pepper mixed in a table full of salt.

Troy shouted across the yard, seeing a friend that he knew from high school. "Yo, Clay, what's up, man? Come over here!"

Clay was with another small crew of Black students. "Well, if it ain't my boy Troy. What's up, man?" he asked, reaching out to shake hands. He already appeared excited about college. "You shoot game to any girls up here yet?"

Troy shook his head. "Naw, not yet. It was this tough girl in my advisory class. She looks good as hell. But let me introduce you to my boys," he offered, turning to face his companions. "This is Bruce, Mat, Pete -- and damn, I don't know where the rest of the dudes went." Troy pointed to each individual, realizing that the majority of the students had gone off on their own missions. "My man Jay will be here after he finishes changing his clothes," he said, giggling. "Nigga came out here in a shirt and tie."

Clay introduced his group of new friends. Both crews then proceeded to rack up food like a platoon of hungry soldiers after a day of training.

Troy and Clay, unintentionally separated from the bunch, found themselves in a private conversation. "Ay', Troy, I had no idea that it would be this many white mugs up here," Clay hinted, shaking his head in amazement.

"Yeah, cuz, me neither," Troy responded. "I ain't never seen this many White people in my life. This shit is like a rock concert. Yo, here comes my boy Jay now! Yo, Jay! We're over here, cuz!" Troy shouted, while raising his hand to direct James in the right direction.

James said in a hurry, "Ay', y'all, we should go to the gym. Everybody is up there. Well, a lot of brothers are, anyway." He seemed to be in a rush as he bent over and retied his shoes. "I'on know about all these White boys. I hope it ain't a lot of them up there. They can't run ball anyway. It might be a bunch of 'em up there thinking they Larry Bird."

Troy nodded. The group headed off to the athletic hall, on the northeast side of campus. As James had expected, the courts were filled with Black students. A few White groups gathered their teams to challenge the winners, who were almost always the Black teams.

James drifted away from their pack as he joined several upper-class students. He seemed to know them already. After a few minutes, he came back to discuss his plans with the rest of the group, but mainly with Troy.

"Yo, Troy, you wanna run with us, homes?" James asked, confident of a positive response. He rubbed his left hand over his goatee, neatly trimmed along with his mustache.

Troy tilted his head back, presenting a frown of confusion. "With who?" he asked, looking in the direction from which James had returned.

"My boy Big Lou picked me, and they wanted another man. So I told them that you could run," James answered.

"I thought we was gon' all run ball together," Troy said.

James smiled, glancing at the confused group of classmates. He whispered back to Troy. "Yo, homes, most of them dudes don't look like they can run ball. I mean, you look like you can play," James explained while looking over Troy's athletic, six-foot frame.

"Naw, man, that's aw'ight," Troy told him, backing away to rejoin his new friends. He thought that everyone would remain together. However, Bruce jumped at the opportunity.

"Yo, mayn, I'll run with y'all," he announced, taking off his shirt to join James, Big Lou, and two other tall teammates.

Troy smiled, curling up his tongue. "Go ahead, then. We gon' wax y'all next game anyway," he said. He called to play the winner for the next game. He then turned to Peter and Clay, who stood nearby. "You see how people get new on you?" he asked them.

"Yeah, that was kind of raw," Clay said, realizing his own confusion. "Well, Troy, who we gon' run with now?" he asked.

"We got enough people. We can run with what we got."

Matthew, who wasn't particularly happy to be in the gym in the first place, attempted to back out.

"Yo, Troy, I ain't that good at running ball. I'll just watch."

Troy insisted that he play. "Naw, man. We came up here to run ball, and that's what we gon' do. You can't let yourself get all intimidated by them knuckleheads. Now, as soon as their game is over wit', we gon' play ball."

As they all waited, Troy glued his eyes on James to see if he was any good. James made countless turnovers and missed shots. Time and again, the rest of the team covered for his mistakes as they pulled off a last-minute, four-point win. Bruce, on the other hand, played well, connecting with four jump shots and completing two layups for twelve points. He also grabbed eight hard-fought rebounds off the backboards.

"Yo, boys, the game is over. It's our time to start balling!" Troy shouted, facing his nervous teammates.

Matthew walked and gave him a handshake. "Yo, you aw'ight, troop. And I forgot to tell you that you have a good memory. You knew all our names earlier. That was pretty good."

"Yeah," Troy responded, "it comes in handy with the women, too."

"Word, right, so you can get them digits and knock some boots."

Troy was not familiar with the term. "Yo, cuz, I ain't tryin' to knock no girl's boots," he said. Matthew started to laugh as Troy stood there and smiled, waiting for an explanation.

"You funny as hell, man," Matthew told him. "But naw, knocking boots means gettin' some ass, in New York."

Troy laughed himself, feeling relieved. "Man, I ain't know what you was talkin' about. So that's what Salt-n-Pepa meant in that 'Tramp' song, hunh?"

"Yeah," Matthew said, still chuckling to himself as the team entered the court.

Troy was one of the shortest on his team, second to Peter's five-ten. Matthew was six-four, Clay, six-two, and Reggie, whom Clay had introduced, was a skinny six-six.

"Y'all got all of y'all men?" James asked, checking Troy the ball.

"Yeah, we ready, you traitor," Troy said, smiling.

James chuckled, anxious to start the ball game. "Aw'ight, homes, let's get this shit on, then."

Troy connected on the first jump shot to get the game rolling. Capitalizing on James's mistakes, Troy made a couple of steals, followed by passes to his teammates to guarantee that everyone got a shot. Matthew proved quite effective on the backboards. He had lots of rebounds. On the whole, their team played well, except for Peter, who had a problem shooting underhanded. Players on both teams laughed at every shot he took, especially when he missed. And Peter missed a lot.

With Troy's team ahead 36-32, because of teamwork and James's turnovers, James's squad brought the basketball downcourt. Bruce was having a tantrum because his baskets refused to fall. As a result, he started to lag up the court, giving Troy's team a defensive advantage. But no matter what the odds were, it came down to James's three big men doing a job on Matthew. Their defense tightened as well, and Troy's teammates found themselves receiving few second shots. Having collected eighteen points, Troy took charge of the game. He hit the next and last four points that his team was able to amass. James's team was again victorious. They won 44-40, just as they had beaten the last team.

"Unh-hunh, homes. You were talking all that shit and couldn't pull it out," James said, rubbing it in.

Not even a slight smile showed from Troy's face of rebellion. "Ay', Jay, you didn't do a damn thing! I had twenty-two points and, like, twelve assists. I had six steals and, like, five rebounds. Now tell me, Jay, 'cause I really want to know. What the fuck did you do?"

Everyone laughed a good hard one as James joined in himself. "I won, and I'm still on the court for the next game. That's what I did," he responded.

Troy turned and faced Clay for an explanation. "Now, Clay, if a person didn't do shit to win but is bragging about the victory, then he's a damn fool, to me, for not being true to himself. You know me from high school, Clay, and if I don't do shit in the game, I'll say that y'all won instead of 'we.' Now, that's an act of a man and not a mouse, and I think Jay got cheese sandwiches in his book bag."

By then, everything Troy said was awarded by a roar of laughter. "You know what, Jay? I'll play you whenever you wanna go, and then we'll see how much you've learned from riding the bandwagon," he added.

James giggled and didn't care, as long as he was on the winning team.

* * *

Troy arrived at his dorm room, a double. He noticed that it had been filled with clothing and boxes. Suspecting that his roommate had arrived, he walked into the floor's bathroom, to find a crowd of freshmen being lectured to by an older Black student who spoke proper English and wore blue high-water slacks:

"Any damages on the floor will be paid for by, if not the person who has perpetrated the particular crime of damaging campus property, then by the entire floor."

Troy searched the faces of his fellow floor mates, who all appeared to be bored. Not including the speaker or himself, he counted only three brown faces: there were two massive football players and one small student wearing glasses.

The speaker acknowledged Troy's presence. "Hello, fellow floor mate. My name is Charles Davison, and I will be your resident assistant for the year. Aah, what have you missed? Well, basically, nothing. The boys and I are just sitting in here bullshitting around and playing with ourselves," the cone-headed resident assistant said. He paused to collect the laughter before he continued.

"No, basically, we just went over the rules, I told the guys my duties, and we introduced ourselves. So what el...

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