My Skin

October 13, 2007
I hurried through the city streets as the shops were closing. My eyes and ears opened to warn me if any danger approached me. I was deeply out of my turf, but the only school supplies store in my neighborhood was in Latino territory. As an African-American, I was most certainly not welcome here, especially at night. I’d never been involved in the gang wars in Long Beach, California, but that didn’t matter to the Mexicans with guns. To them, a Black was a Black, in a gang or not. My people were purely animals to them, as they were to my people. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t wish I was born into some other life, in some other place. I remember when I was five or six years old, my next door neighbor was killed in a drive-by. I didn’t really know him, nor did I know and of my neighbors, but it was still enough to shake me. I remember my parents talking about what would have happened if I or my younger sister were outside playing at the time of the shooting. They said they would have shot us; to eliminate the witnesses. I was deeply frightened by this. That was when I first found out my life didn’t matter to most of the people in this world. To the Latinos, the Whites, and the Asians, I was already as good as dead. Because of my skin, I had a limited amount of possible friends, boyfriends, husbands. For two years, after that shooting, I always paid close attention to the crimes; checking maps to see how far away it was from my house, measuring how close I had been to also being killed. After a while, I guess I just got used to it. Or maybe I just stopped caring. Plenty of the crimes were of my people killing others. Or other heritages killing others. It didn’t always involve Negros. After all, if it didn’t involve my people, why should I care? They didn’t care if I lived or died, so why should I waste my tears, my sorrow, on them? So I didn’t.

The late afternoon sun was already low in the sky, prepared to set at the worst possible moment for me. The sun reminded me of God, neither cared about me. I haven’t been to church since I was five. Now, I’m seventeen. I’ve learned a lot since then. Scratch that- I’ve learned a lot of things, not including what I learned in school. When am I ever going to be able to use any of that crap outside of school? Out in the real world, you have to worry about getting to the store before you even can think about how you’ll pay for anything there. I could get shot down, easy, drive by. I clutched my new notebooks to my chest tighter each minute. I could see the start of Ghetto-Black land just ahead. I didn’t relax one bit; the most shootings occurred here at the border. I heard a car behind me. I sped up; trying to shield my face from whomever was behind me. A pimped car shot past me, blasting rap music. I must have heard ten cuss words in the two seconds I had heard the music. I saw the people were black and relaxed slightly, just some gangsters out for an afternoon drive in enemy territory.

Then I heard it. There was a loud bang on some side street to my right. I broke into a run, praying to the God who hated me that he would take pity on me, just this once. I sprinted past by families’ friends’ houses and wished my house wasn’t at the end of the road. The shot had been twenty seconds ago, they would have already shot me if they were going to. That changed nothing. I had to call the cops… what if it was someone I knew? I had to tell. I remembered my parents were out to dinner with my younger sister. God had no pity left to give me. I had no one to help me.

When I got to my house, I went straight to the phone, hoping that my parents had paid the bill this month. I heard it beep and dialed. The 911 operator asked what my emergency was; I told her someone had been shot down the street. I said I didn’t know who it was, but I had heard the sot and ran straight home. She asked my name and who I was. I told her. She asked where I lived. I told her that too. If my dad was home, he would have beaten me by now. The operator was white, I could tell from the voice. My father hated whites. A few minutes later, I heard the sirens and went outside to see them drive by my house. There were three of them. The last one parked next to my house. I walked up to him. He was black. I think I recognized him from some talk about drugs at my school. He asked me if I was okay. I told him I was. According to him, I might have to answer questions later in private. He must have seen the look in my eyes at that, because he quickly said they wouldn’t give out my name. He said they’d be in contact with me, and then he drove away.

The next day I saw what happened on television. The person that was shot was a Latino. They knew it was a Negro, but they didn’t know who. A few weeks later, I saw the outcome in the newspaper. I saw who it was. It was a group that lived down the street from me. I had betrayed my own people. Thankfully, my parents didn’t even know that I was the one who called it in. Only the police did, and they hadn’t made contact with me yet, so hopefully they wouldn’t. If any other people in my neighborhood found out that I had betrayed them, they’d be on my in about thirty seconds with a gun to my head, blasting away.

I hoped dearly that I would get out of here before I died. I couldn’t possibly survive here, in the middle of a war. Because of my skin, my life was a disaster. Here my friends were all fighting out there, and here I was, just trying to get through it. It made me feel even more like a traitor. It was horrible, and it all happened because of what group of people I was from. Because of my skin.

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monniefish said...
Mar. 31, 2009 at 2:23 am
Aww, this makes me sad. I like it though.
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