Crime African American Black

This story contains themes or mentions of sexual violence.

Imagine one day you are hunted. You are hunted not to be killed, but to be captured, examined, and experimented on. You are caged behind glass or maybe in the small confines of an aquarium. You are removed from your dangerous world and put into a very safe but very small one. The size of a snow globe.

Essentially you are a monkey in a zoo. (Kanye West).

For a while, you manage to live in the zoo. You perform all the magic tricks they taught you. For a brief while you entirely forget the dangerous world outside the glass.

But after a while cracks start to appear.

Sometimes the zoo animals go mad. They bang their heads repeatedly on the glass walls enclosing them and need to be sedated. Sometimes they even attack and on those occasions, they mysteriously disappear, usually because they are imperfect.

In the spring of 1998, Kun won the High School Track and Field Championship Nationals. She broke state records. She did it in 20-dollar sneakers from Walmart. She didn't do it thinking it would be that big of a deal, but it was the biggest pivotal moment of her life.

As she stood at the finish, some men in suits walked up with Gatorade and handed her a blue and white towel, grinning at her like she was a prized poodle.

“That was extraordinary,” one of the suits said, “Are your parents here?”

“I just have a Mom,” replied Kun, "Behind you."

Generally, Penn State does everything perfectly. Particularly their recruiters, and the Second Mile all had affiliations and/or were Penn State Recruiters. They made that valley look like a perpetual ecstasy trip. Like Dollyland. Or Gilmore Girls. The recruiters are the Penn State scouts sent to find the best athletes. They are usually former athletes. They are all exceptionally well-dressed. They are the intellectual best, and they also tend to be very good-looking. They are hired to represent the image of Penn State. They are the gold standard. All they do is smile a lot and gloat, Kun thought. They had such a fat cat-polished quality about them. They were almost...... slick.

I went from the drug-riddled streets of Philadelphia eating hotdogs most days a week to upper-class suburbia white America. Kun Anderson sat outside the administrative offices of State High.

“She reads and writes at a 5th-grade level. We are going to take her for a semester, that's it.”

“Don’t you have academically challenged students in this school?” demanded Mrs. Anderson.

“Not Second Mile kids. The academically challenged kids have a birthright. They have a right to be here. Only residents of the County may attend here. Move here and we can discuss it," said the autocrat, knowing full well the home prices were astronomically ostracizing to most ordinary families.

“My daughter runs the fast 200-meter dash in the record of her age group," her mother pleaded.

“These opportunities are precious,” said the Second-Mile-Beaurocrats, “They are for the elite student-athletes. Emphasis on the word student. You’re daughter can run athletically, but academically she can’t even walk.”

“You said this was charity to help inner city kids get a fighting chance of getting into college so they weren’t yet another generation of poverty,” said Mrs. Anderson incredulously.

"We can only help so many."

Mrs. Anderson stood up and pointed her finger at the board, directing her statement to Dr. Ray: “You all are just a bunch of white folks trying to funnel a bunch of black kids up for your football team. A charitable thing to do would be to work with all types, instead you all pick the perfect prototypes. Like a damn slave auction picking out little black athlete kids.”

“Excuse me,” asked Dr. Ray.

Little did Kun’s mother know, but Dr. Ray had been accused of racism on another occasion. While he wasn’t actually more racist than the usual white man, he did have a high sensitivity for bad publicity and groomed his reputation in the same meticulous way he groomed his nose hairs every morning.

Her mother was excited, whispering her plans for Kun's life in the hall: “You go to college. You get a walk-on or a scholarship. You do what nobody else in our family ever did. You become a doctor or a lawyer. You do something big with your life?” she said.

“You think that will make me happy?”

"It's all I ever wanted."

If you're from Philly like Kun and haven't been anywhere else, the first thing you notice about the Valley is the color white. Whitewashed buildings. Brick buildings painted white. Penn State Blue and white. White institutional walls. White pages in books. White snow blanketed the ground. Oh, and those white clouds. For months they just hang caught between the mountains surrounding the valley. The clouds just hover there like an oppressive mist obscuring the sun. Kun later learned that Happy Valley was the second rainiest city next to Seattle. No wonder people there are batshit nuts, she thought. White neon lights in classrooms. White linolium. White brick walls that never saw graffiti. White mist rolling off the hillsides. White fog rises from the ground. White haze that made you feel like the whole world was a cloud. The way fog unfurled slowly like an ocean wave down from the sides of the mountain, creeping down in the valley like some creature from the show "Lost." Okay, Happy Valley could be beautiful. Or maybe it was just because she hadn't seen many other places. Happy Valley tends to always romance people initially with its mystique, and so does Disney World. Both the theme park and the university are made up of staged picturesque props. Each world is full of crying adult children covered in ice cream and throwing tantrums about money in front of a corrupt board of all-white trustees.

Yes, whiteness. The whiteness of all of it. And yes, the white people too. State High is one of the most academically competitive schools in the nation. Second Mile kids are "guests." We are the charity cases bussed in from inner cities, the 2% of State High that is diversity. These are the children of the intellectual elite. These are the children of professors making $250k or more. State High was infiltrated by Penn State. They were called the Little Lions. Those pinnacle Joe Paterno values of academic and athletic excellence were instilled into these kids at a young age. Kun Anderson learned that you couldn't just be smart and you couldn't just be an athlete. You had to meet this impossible standard of 360-degree perfection.

Yes, the whiteness of State High. For the most part, the kids were progressive. Defiant in their music taste. Interracial dating was accepted without second glance. It was a polished and seamless image of political correctness. But you notices small things. Beyond the rows of land lovers and luxury vehicles in the student parking lot is a row of trucks. Lots of them have a confederate flag. The Ku Klux Klan headquarters is in central Pennsylvania.

But they weren't all racist. People from the valley were under such obscene amounts of pressure. They lived in such a sheltered snow globe-restricted existence. So when they cut loose, they went wild. I remember going to frat parties at 16. I remember smoking blunts and having a keg party in the middle of the blue and white course, back before the cops got overfunded and the place is now swarming with bored adrenaline-junkie maniacs with nothing to do but look for a bad tail light.

In the valley, racism is hidden in social cloaks exposing itself like a pathological Freudian underbelly, an accidental racist slip. Racism is a thing that’s so subtle until you realize it's right there. I prefer it when it's out in the open. Call me a house nigger to my face. Don't let some racist joke slip after your third pinot grigio and make a fool of yourself trying to fix it.

You are PRIVILEGED to be here. That message is ingrained to the heads of Second Mile kids. They are lucky to live among the most privileged population of kids and see everything they don't have in life. Nuclear families. Paid tuition. Cars. They have $5000 in sports equipment courtesy of the Second Mile, but they don't have money to get a dress for prom.

Second Mile kids are allowed to exist in this glittering Disney Land of other people's dreams on the contingency that they are perfect. Perfect grades. Perfectly respectful. Perfect athlete, as you can make that perfect. At least the best or almost the best in whatever you do, preferably football. Second Mile kids who played football were groomed with Penn State values, and groomed to play for Paterno from a very young age. The Penn State Sports Camps are rigorous. The Second Mile kids are indoctrinated to play on that level, many do.

At Penn State which has the highest or second highest cost of tuition for any public school in the country. There is no litter on the public streets. Condemned buildings or houses are quickly swept away. There are no overgrown yards. They landscape every inch of everything. Or likely case is they have someone do it for them. Regardless, the whole Norman Rockwell Archie Bunker quality to it is slippery.

“Good morning class,” Mike’s homeroom teacher began. She taught English in 9th grade. “Tomorrow we will be getting another very special new student from the Second Mile. We have a long legacy of achievement. But I want you to look around this room, and what do you see?”

“Josh is absent again, prob banging the band teacher” volunteered Ricky.

“Thank you, Ricky. I noticed that. But that is not what I’m getting at. Note the absence of color. In fact, only 2% of this school are minorities. Most of you are privileged and white. As a black teacher, I am one of the 1/2% teaching here of black teachers. Kun is the diversity you’ll see in the rest of the world when you graduate. Understood?”

“Yes Mrs. Myers,” the class said in unison.

“I want her to be welcomed. I want her to have a place to sit at lunch.”

“Thank you, let’s consider that, who else would like to volunteer?”

“Abigail? Why are you a good fit?”

“My college counselor thinks I need more awards and accolades on my transcript since I have a C average.”

“If you graduate from State High, you know they’ll let you into Penn State with a C average. Who else?”

Big Red raised his hand.

"Absolutely not, Mike You’ve had a terribly defiant attitude. You’ve been a terror lately. I wrote your mother and she wrote me back and copied the family lawyer."

"I'll make sure she is respected," he replied.

“You think the crowd you run with is going to accept her?”

“Have you ever met her?” asked Mike. “You are already presuming she won’t fit in. You are standing up there telling us she is poor, black, and dumb and won't fit in. It's pretty much you up their yapping being racist.”

“Excuse me, Mike?”

“That was pretty much your speech, and you’re a black woman, which sounds pretty racist to me,” he said hotly, his red-headed temper beginning to flare.

“What is your angle Mr. Popularity White Male Homecoming King?”

“I don’t have an angle," he raged back. He hated this crankled mean librarian type, "I’m offering to do it. If you don’t like it say no? How about I turn in the two homework assignments. I’ll write about how Yeats’ poem is a metaphor for getting his penis sucked and - ”

“Mr. McQueary?”

“I said penis,” Mike argued. "I said penis, not dick."

Mrs. Meyers seemed to think about this. “I think we can all see you run in a very exclusive little click. But you are displaying leadership, so we’ll do this on a trial basis.”

“And,” continued Mike, “to say that there is no racism at this school is ludicrous. You call yourself black in America?”

“Enough of that, you - - white human,” said Mrs. Meyers. “You made your point. Don’t test me.”

“Where you from Tyrone, PA?”

The class roared with laughter when he said it. She didn't need to call him. He slunk up to her after class as the bell rang and the class scattered and then convened in a messy line out the door.

His red-headed temper had gotten the best of him, he hung his head and just waited for him to tell him off.

Mrs Meyers. “As a black lady, I’m not blind to racism. I don’t know your motives for volunteering but if I hear anything at all there will be consequences.”

“I’ll be respectful,” McQueary promised, “I’m bored with people from State College, I think it’ll liven my life up.”

Kun shut her eyes and breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the wheels hit the runway and they began to taxi. She had felt so relieved just to be on the ground. The wind blustered around her as she walked across the tarmac.

A man in a suit waited inside with a sign that said “Kun Anderson.” He wore a white Penn State lanyard and approached her immediately.

“Ms. Kun Anderson?”

“It’s pronounced coon, like a coon dog. My name is Kun.”Kun always liked to shock and test white people with this analogy. She liked to see them squirm. Besides who pronounces it Kuun, it's like too close to cunt.

“First, my name is Dr. Raykovitz. They call me Dr. Ray. Secondly you need a warm coat. It's a basic need. Third I want you to say that sentence again and use correct grammar.”

“I don’t need any coat, Dr. Ray,” Kun said obediently.

“I don’t need a coat, Dr. Ray,” he corrected. “The answer is that warm clothing is a basic need. Our grammar is important. We want to eliminate any street vocabulary. Understood?”

“Yes sir.”

“Very good.”

They drove for about 20 minutes before parking.

Dr. Ray laughed, “We’re going into that store right there. Appalachian Outdoors.”

Dr. Ray made a bee line for some granola-eating yuppy named Brian: "She is one of Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile kids. Kun, don’t just stand there. Go pick out whatever you want.”

Kun walked around the coats looking at the prices and kept staring at the two men talking. At last, she approached them waiting to speak - “We were finishing dinner on the Swiss Alps -” John stopped mid-sentence. “Dr. Ray?” He pointed at Kun.

“Did you find one?”

“Can I talk to you alone?” Dr. Ray side. “Just a second john.”

She led him off to a corner and began pulling a wad of bills from her pocket, "I have no money."

"I have a Second Mile credit card.

“These coats are all at least $300.00,” she explained.

Dr. Ray laughed. “The Second Mile has millions."

"I have no money," she repeated.

“Kun. Kun. That’s not how this works. Do you have a female on your staff?”

A clerk appeared. She was white, fashionable, and looked like someone out of a ski magazine.

“Do you like Northface or Columbia?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never heard of either.”

“Northface is better, more State High kids are buying that brand. You’re a large for sure, try this one on. I think this one is perfect.”

The whiteness of the coat made her skin glow a darker black. She stood there for a long while looking at herself in the coat. She touched her hair, she looked so black and so nappy in such a fine coat. She didn’t feel worthy of it.

“You alive in there?” came a knock.


“Do you want another color?”

“I’ll take this one,” she said. White people have minimal care standards that are posh.

SECOND MILE KIDS: Creating perfect Penn State athletes from a young age utilizing Paterno's "Grand Experiment" methodology.

I know what you came for. You want to know about Jerry. Everyone comes to gawk about Jerry Sandusky. Did the Second Mile kids collectively know about Jerry? Of course, we did, but he quit messing with the Second Mile kids in 1998. Don't forget he made a lot of money with that charity. He didn't want to risk his millions of dollars when he could feast elsewhere. He volunteered for schools mainly outside of Centre County. Though rumors spread. And there might have been an occurence or two before 1998. So weird he was voted off chair of his own charity. Such an elaborate cover up. He was perfectly slick about it really. Or maybe there was a nondisclosure. How about that $200,000 Corbett took from the Second Mile? Wasn't their millions missing from that charity?

February 26, 2024 18:22

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Mike McQueary
19:33 Mar 02, 2024

https://www.pennlive.com/midstate/2011/12/the_second_miles_structure_man.html The corruption ran deep.


Show 0 replies
Mary Bendickson
00:18 Feb 27, 2024

I see you are writing under a pen name now. Wise and mysterious. Had some difficulty knowing who was telling the story. Think it was Kun but need to somehow show when change point of view. Something like *** between lines. And always start dialogue of a new speaker with new paragraph. Beginning to see the bigger picture since I was oblivious to the scandal. Good job.


Show 0 replies
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.