December 28, 2007
By Ashley Morris, Lansing, KS

If everyone lived their life the way they were told to we would still have slaves. We would still have Whites Only signs and Areas. However, people don’t listen to what they are told to do and so the world changes. Sometimes for the better sometimes for the worst. Andrea Clemming was certain it was for the better.

It was a cold rainy day in Mississippi. For blocks you couldn’t spot a soul that is until you saw Andrea. Sitting in her favorite tree out side the house her lovely voice was ringing.

“Sitting up here alone I am;

Singing in the rain,

I feel quite cold;

I know I am,

Until you call my name”
Andrea wanted to sing. She was the best, and she knew it. The others though, they didn’t want it for her. “A girl like her can’t,” they whispered whenever they learned but they were wrong. Andrea could, and would sing. She was startled out of her daydream by her mother’s voice. “Andrea! You get down from that tree this minuet! You are going to catch ammonia!”

Andrea slid down the trees smooth trunk and ran to her very angry mother. Despite her self her mother smiled at Andrea’s soaking wet clothes. “You get right in that house and change girl, Lord knows how you stand this weather.” Andrea smiled “Its good for practice Mom, you can’t hear you-self when it rains so you have to rely on your instincts.”

Her Mother gave her a reproachful look, “Singing is not worth getting ill. No go dry up.” Andrea went to her room and looked for some clean clothes. SLAM! Her father must be home. Andrea went to the vent to listen to her parent’s voices. “She was singing again Will.” Said her mother concerned. Her father grunted. “Andrea is going to get dangerous thoughts. Do you know how many Black singers there are? Do you!”

She heard her father voice, “Let the girl dream, it can’t while she is young.” Her father said something so quiet she couldn’t hear. Andrea had heard discussions like this before between many people. At a parent teacher conference her choir instructor told her parents not to let her hopes get up to high. A tear fell down her cheek, couldn’t anyone try to help her instead of try to protect her?

She walked down the stairs to meet her dad. This was the moment she had been waiting for. Her parents were home, they would not like it but she had to keep on dreaming. “Dad” she said, “Mom, I have something to tell you. Before I do you need to know that nothing you say is going to change my mind, and nothing you do will stop me.” Her mother froze but her father looked curiously at her. “What is it?” he said.

She took a deep breath a look her parents in the eyes. “I have joined the talent show, I’m going to sing. I’m going to sing against white kids.” Her mother gasped and her father stood up quickly. “No” he said but she resisted “Yes I am!” her mother recovered and stood up too. “The judges will be white. You won’t win! I can’t see you disappointed. You don’t deserve it!” “Mom, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to let them win! How do you know they won’t choose me for color? How do you know they don’t base it on talent!”

“I will not have it!” her mother screamed.

“I’m going to try! If I don’t make it then I will try again! You can’t keep me from trying!” Andrea yelled holding back tears and ran from the room. She knew her parents were trying to protect her. She knew they could bear to see her hurt, but they hadn’t been there that night. She was singing at the bus stop waiting to go home when the bus pulled up. Three White girls a little older than her got off. One look at her then spat at her feet. “Ni****” she whispered and the other girls laughed.

Since then Andrea had a burning desire to do something, to win. To show them all that she could succeed. And with these thoughts in her mind she drifted off to sleep. The next 2 weeks pass quickly. As if in a daze Andrea got up practiced went to school and argued with her parents over it. It soon became a routine. Then came the night of the show. Andrea’s parents had refused to come. They were scared for their daughter, so they stayed home.

Knots were twisting in her stomach stronger and stronger until she was next. Everyone before her had been white. The last person’s applause died away and she entered the stage. She looked at the judges, one was white, but one was black. She smiled and the nerves went away. A fair chance then. The music began and her voice came in ringing beautifully.

“ Suddenly I, am in front of the lights

Everything, I'm feeling

Scary and beautiful at the same time

And every day I try just to breathe

I want to show the whole world

The truth inside of me

Suddenly people know my name

Suddenly everything has changed

Suddenly I feel so alive

In the blink of an eye…”

Andrea’s song finished out with the loudest applause yet. Some people remained seated, frowning, but only some. Andrea smiled brightly and look to the judge’s.Both judge’s, black and white, had given her a perfect score.

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