Crackers and Hoodlums

November 22, 2008
A few years ago, I witnessed an event that I will never forget. It occurred while I was walking to my math class. Two boys fought in the middle of the hallway. The giant crowd that surrounded the fighters reminded me of the monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. I had to stand on my tiptoes to see all the action. Tom and Reggie threw punches at each other. Tom broke Reggie's nose. Reggie broke one of Tom's ribs.
Tom was white.
Reggie was black.

A few minutes later, the cops arrived and took Tom and Reggie away. I was later informed that Tom had to go into surgery and Reggie had to get stitches. The entire school grew apart after that bloody episode. The whites made fun of blacks and told them to "go back to your hood" and the blacks retaliated with words dripping of respect: "cracker" and "bird sh*t." Yes, my school was full of love.

Martin Luther King's dream of a united, colorblind nation has not been realized because discrimination and prejudice still roam the land. Yes, we have come a long way from segregated schools to a black President, but we live in a country where minorities are still considered the scum under the American citizen's shoe. It is a place where a boy named Reggie walks around with a permanently scarred nose and a boy named Tom couldn't even walk at all, at least for a few months.

I wrote this essay in a Laundromat. I couldn't hear myself think because the washing machines were too loud and two toddlers were running around playing tag. They were yelling. They were laughing together. It drove me nuts! I looked up. 'Hey, the two toddlers are actually pretty cute,' I thought to myself. One of them, a Hispanic boy, kept repeating "Nina! Nina!" to a little white girl as if he was trying to teach her a piece of his language.

The United States of America, I just realized, is full of miracles. Discrimination still walks among us, but it does not walk beside every single one of us. It is a place where a little boy and a little girl who just met can play with each other despite different ethnic backgrounds. Two toddlers learned to set aside their differences and if they can do it, then so can the rest of America.
I believe we can.

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