Ok, let me start by saying that I am not, have not ever been and have no plans on ever being a member of a Chinese prison gang. This is for a few reasons:
(1) I'm not Chinese. My husband does insist that I'm the most Asian person he knows - I was born in Okinawa, I lived in China, I speak some Chinese (no where near as much as I did a decade ago) - but I'm still probably about as white as they come.
(2) I've never been to prison. In my life, I've had two traffic tickets & there was a bench warrant issued when I forgot to pay one of them, but I paid it. I don't commit crimes, I don't hang out with people that commit crimes.
and (3) I'm not in a gang. I don't think I'd be very good at it. I don't like wearing the same color all the time. I don't like following directions. And I'm not good at those hand signal things.
Despite all of this, being in a Chinese prison gang is AWESOME! This all started about 8 months ago. It was getting hot and I'd started wearing my hair up while I was doing searches outside. One of the girls noticed a Chinese tattoo on the back of my neck and freaked out a little bit. All of my students see me as very conservative, so a neck tattoo was a bit more than she could handle. She yelled "Oh my god! You have a neck tattoo? What is that?" Before I could even say anything, the principal answered "Chinese prison gang" and then walked off. I laughed; the bell rang and that was that.
Over the next couple of days, kids made comments, but I never said anything. They could think what they wanted...
Fast forward to this year. My 7th period class is a total pain in the ass. Not bad kids, just a pain. There also aren't a lot of them for some reason, so they got to be really good at distracting me from teaching by asking random questions. One day, about six weeks ago, I cannot remember what happened - maybe a kid saw a tattoo, maybe it was something I said - but a kid said that he'd heard a rumor that I was in a Chinese prison gang. I replied "Yeah, and?"
And so it began...
From that point forward, I've gotten random prison gang questions - and I've been creative enough and between Law and Order & law school, know just enough to convince a few kids that I actually AM part of a prison gang. The beauty is, these kids convince other kids. Some are gullible, others just think it's funny that other students are so gullible and perpetuate the story for me. Nonetheless, it's awesome. At one point, another teacher even asked me if I was really in a Chinese prison gang... I actually had to give my principal the heads up... just incase a parent called.
So... here's the story as I've told it so far...
I was arrested in New York for an undisclosed non-violent crime & sent to prison about 10 years ago while I was in college. I don't talk about the crime because there I turned state's evidence and there are still a few things pending. I appealed and had the case overturned because of a bad search (these kids are all about the 4th amendment). I was released and moved on with my life.
But, while I was in prison, I joined a Chinese prison gang. Why Chinese? Well, I'm not black or Mexican, so bloods and crips are out. I didn't really want to go Arian Nation, so that left the Chinese. I joined for protection, naturally. I was friendly with some of the leaders because I was educated and helped some of them study for the GED. Because of that, I got the protection without having to do anything weird.
Occasionally... a student will ask a question because something "doesn't quite add up". Like...
"Where are your tattoos? Prison gangs have tattoos." (They also ask about colors)
Answer: "Mine are mostly hidden. We tried to stay on the down low so we didn't get in a lot of trouble. Since I was a white girl, I didn't want to call any attention to myself." (we didn't do colors for the same reason)
"Wait a second, if you went to prison, how are you a teacher?"
Originally, another student answered this with "That's why she's at Biltmore, genius". That actually held up for a long time. Eventually, I did have to amend my story to add the appeal part. They're ok with it now.
My favorite though... "Why don't you swear? If you were really in a prison gang, you'd swear."
Answer: "I found Jesus in prison"
Student: "What? No. That's dumb."
Another student: "No, it's a thing. My uncle did that. He doesn't swear any more either."
The best part about it? Random threats "Don't make me bring my people." One kid occasionally challenges me to a fight. We agree to meet and fight at a Starbucks later. I'll usually call him out for not showing up... If he says he did, I reply "no you didn't, I was there drinking a frapuchinno while I was waiting for you"
Mike thinks that I should go to UNLV, find a few Asian girls and take some photos with them to hang up around my classroom.