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The Day I Found Out I Was “White”

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I stand stagnant in my backyard the smell of forest green grass fills me up as I

inhale the summer breeze blowing in from the lake. Living in stereotypical Midwestern

Indiana had its joys, but the small town life was not for me. The summer after sixth grade

my wish for an exhilarating change came true.


“Kayla,” my mom sang in a happily high pitched voice, as she always does when

there is good news to be said, “how do you feel about Arizona?”


I immediately sprinted to my room and began to pack everything in my path. A

week later we were on a plane to Goodyear, Arizona.


School was about to start, I had never been so thrilled in my life. I could not wait

to start this new adventure, with new friends in a new setting. This particular setting was

known as Desert Thunder, a kindergarten through seventh grade school that in the end

would teach me much more than the intended curriculum.


As I practically skipped across the newly paved campus my pony tail bounced side

to side, and my smile grew larger with every step. The blaring school bell rang through

every students’ ear, it was time for my first class! As I pushed open the door and strutted

to my seat I could feel my classmate’s eyes burning through my skin to the bone. This

flame of tension I felt from the beginning did not dwindle. The feeling of being a pariah,

like I did not belong in this society, was given off by everyone day after day.


Three weeks into my seventh grade year and announcement came over the

school intercom system.


“Are you a leader?” an excited man’s voice asked deeply. “Student council

elections begin today! Sign up with your homeroom teacher and start campaigning.

Good luck eagles!”


This was my chance to get my name out there and show everyone who I really am,

a president!


“I would like to run for president of student council.” I spoke, trying to sound as

dignified as I possibly could.


“Fabulous,” my science teacher, Ms. Ellis, said as she clapped her hands together

with delight, “you would make a wonderful representative for our school!”


I beamed my grandest smile and finished out my classes for the day. The next

morning I announced my candidacy and began to campaign. I could tell something was

up, the nasty glances and whispers that followed me gave their macabre feelings away. I

tried my best to ignore them and keep my spirit up.


“Vote for me, Kayla G.!” I sang as I distributed candy bracelets with my slogan on

the tag.



“Don’t vote for me, I’m a stupid whitey!” a group of Hispanic girls mimicked as

they strolled by. From the very start these girls have been nothing but evil to me, in turn,

I was determined to find out what their problem with me actually was.


“Betsy, what is your problem?” I asked the leader of the dark posse.


“We aren’t the problem, you are!” Betsy practically screamed as she backed me

into a corner next to the girls’ bathrooms.


“I haven’t done anything to you!”


“This is our school and we don’t want some stuck up white girl running it! You’ll

never win and if you do you’ll wish you didn’t!”


Wow! My heart was beating so fast I had a feeling they could see it rippling my

uniform shirt. I was shocked and tongue tied so I didn’t speak. I could imagine my pallid

face fading whiter. The girls began to laugh and Adriana, a rough, hefty Hispanic, shoved

me hard into the concrete wall. As they marched away my throat began to close up and

my breathing quickened. I tried my hardest to choke back the salty tear drops forming in

the corners of my eyes, but it was no use.


Once this happened I wasn’t about to withdraw my candidacy! I’m in this to win

and I’m determined to prove them wrong. Over the two week election three more

students signed up to run against me, Liz the gossip master, Adriana, and Betsy! They

tore down every poster I made and threw them in the garbage. But I still did not give up,

I stuck it out! Finally election day came and our principal’s voice echoed throughout the

campus.


“I am very proud of each and every student that ran for a position on student

council! Although, there are only a choice few that have the honor of holding a title

representing our school. For treasurer the winner is, Carlos Salazar, for secretary, Crystal

Inzunza. Your vice president winner is Eddy De La Torre, and for Desert Thunder’s

student council president…,” my heart stopped beating as she paused and then she said

it, “Kayla Garbison.”


The sound of applause did not fill the classroom as I dreamed it would, silence banged on my ear drums. This unwanted reaction didn’t stop the grin creeping across

my face, I won! My felicity was soon diminished by the sound of one boy’s accent.


To the beat of our national anthem he sang, “I’m glad I’m not American, and I’m

glad that I’m not white!”


The hush was broken by the whole class’s burst of angry laughter, but I just sat

there, my smirk still lighting up my face! I am the winner and they can not do anything

about it so why be furious or depressed?


My first day as student council president excelled my thoughts. The principal

approached me with a stern expression and spoke almost in a whisper, “I just wanted to

let you know that some candidates requested a recount of student votes. After recounting

the ballets you won by a large margin. Congratulations, Ms. President!”


From that moment on the group of Hispanics made my life as horrifying as they

possibly could. I have always had a passion for school, but the threats and verbal hatred I

experienced scared me to tears everyday. This event brought racism to my attention, I did

not understand what was wrong with me. I was so confused and unsure why they were

causing me this agony. After a while I realized it was not my skin or me at all it was their

fallible mindset. They were taught, unfortunately, to judge and spread hatred onto the

things they did not know. I pray my wish will come true, my wish to make sure no

person or race ever has to endure what I did. But I know now racism is an incurable,

futile epidemic.


This was an awful lesson to learn but I always ponder, ”If I would not

have run for president, would they have treated me with the same anguish?”

Unfortunately the answer I have concluded is, yes. After two years of constant abuse I
moved away. But the things they said and did to me left a scar that will never fade away.

I will never forget my life at Desert Thunder.





Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

birdcage2 said...
Jul. 11, 2011 at 11:13 am
Great job!! When I read it I was astonished this is amazing keep it up
 
that one girl said...
Oct. 19, 2008 at 4:48 pm
Wow. Reading this i was astonished. My name is the same as the bully that picked on you and i live in goodyear so i was frightened that it was me you spoke of. Than reading it through a realized it wasn't, but it made me think of all the times i could have left a mark on someone's life. We need to realize what we do to others.
 
nonelse said...
Aug. 31, 2008 at 6:14 pm
wow. that's all i can say.
 
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