Color, The Divider Of People

October 29, 2017
By ChrisArenas BRONZE, Oakland, New Jersey
ChrisArenas BRONZE, Oakland, New Jersey
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

          Life was normal for me, it was. I used to be respected, I had people who cared about me, I had people to talk to. Nowadays I'm just here, not noticed, not appreciated, not even treated right. I'm stuck reflecting back on what I once had, to see where my life went wrong.
            I was born black, in California. Even though I was american, people saw me for my color and where my parents were from. They named me Crooks, meaning bend or hunchback, which was because I’ve always had a back problem, even as a baby they noticed there was something wrong with my spine. We couldn’t seek medical attention because who would help a bunch of africans, society saw us as a joke. Luckily for us we weren’t the only colored people in California, in fact there was a massive community all ostracized from the whites. Since my family was unemployed they saw this as a financial opportunity, for they couldn’t bare living poor. They traded things they found around the streets to other families for other objects in return, they then sold these objects to non racist white families and slowly they began making money. Our income was extremely minor, but it was something, that something kept us alive. Growing up I had no time for friends, I wouldn’t be able to find any even if  I had time. My job was to help my parents. Their mini business was the only thing keeping us with food in our mouths and a roof over our head. We lived in a small one floor house, that was inherited by our past relatives. It was the only thing that we owned.
       As I grew older I began to see that the condition of my parents and my back were worsening. All those years without medical attention had really taken a toll on us. I began to fear what I would do without my parents, without our business. I never had to think on my own, I just listened to them. As time passed, the ineludible happened, they died. I was left with nothing, both physically and mentally. Emotionally, I was drained and my skin color wasn’t helping. The town took the house my parents once owned and left me with nothing. I had to act fast, knowing that I wouldn’t have food for tomorrow. My best bet was to walk into town and hope for any opportunity I could find. A large man was passing through town with farm supplies overloading his truck. I instantly jumped on the opportunity, knowing that farm owners loved hiring colored men, for they could pay them a penny and they would still work for them.
       As the car came to a halt, I shouted “That equipment you got there, you must have a farm, don’t you?”
     “Ya, what's it to you?” he responded.
Surprised that he even acknowledged me, I went straight to the point , “I'll work for anything, I just need a place to stay and some food to eat.”
“For anything? You start tomorrow, head north and you’ll see a farm. You can’t miss it.”
At that moment I was struck with relief and nervousness at the same time, for I finally had a place to stay, but no way to get there. As the day faded I was left with no option but to spend the night on the streets. I slept on the ground, alone, like a ship at sea. Eventually daylight hit my eyes again, and I was prepared to get to the farm. Walking for hours was the summary for the rest of my day. Step after step, moving forward, but seemingly making no progress. The daylight began to fade once again, along with my hope, but as I kept walking a new light lit up, this time  in my eyes. For I saw the farm and I saw the opportunity I dreamed about in front of me. Looking back to the present, perhaps if I never took these steps I wouldn’t be in the position I am today, I wouldn’t be deceived by what I once thought to be a dream. As my feet got closer and closer to the farm, an older man, with what appeared to be an ancient dog, approached me. He looked at me with disappoint, which confused me, for I have never seen this man before and have never done him wrong. Later in my life, I would come to realize that, that disappoint was in my choice, my choice of working on the farm. He knew I was making the same mistake he made a long time ago. The man directed me to a room, which was where I would be staying throughout my time on the farm. The room was a small dark space, the only sliver of light came from a small window on one of the beaten up, wooden walls. Along with the beam of light came an aroma of residue that filled the air. It certainly was no white man’s room but I was happy enough to have a place to stay. Time felt unbearable. As my working began, the reminder of my skin color came back to haunt me. Nobody would talk to me, or even look my way. My only companions were the horses I tended.
How can man let one be so excluded because of their color? How can they let someone be lonely to the point that they have to talk to animals? How can they ignore someone, as if their life doesn’t have meaning? These are things that need to be heard, but no will listen to someone of my complection. The day that I relied on the white man to save me from my situation, was the day that my life went downhill, the day that the full effects of complexion came into play. Currently in this prison called a farm, there is no escaping without money or respect. I fear that if the world doesn’t change, I will forever be stuck in this farm, as a crooked black male.

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