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Thank you

I grew up in the most homogeneous of all communities. Half-black, half-white, I was a mutt. The 5 black families rejected me. The 500 white families did the same. At work, my father was spurned, a black man marrying outside his color, not keeping to the status quo dictated by affluent New England towns. In the store, my mother was shunned, as she held me, the little half breed child, close to her skirt, hiding me from whispers that followed. Finally, on the playground, I was excluded too. Taking cues from their parents, my class mates self-segregated themselves, making groups of friendship based on race and religion instead of hobbies and interests. I did not fit in with the African American girls who would sing and jump rope, or the white girls playing soccer with a half-deflated ball. Instead, I spent my time on the playground reading, huddled against the low brick wall when it got cold, struggling to catch one more word while the playground aides yelled for my classmates to line up to go inside. I spent my lunch time doing the same. I sat by myself; periodically taking bites of my sandwich as I got lost in the worlds of heroes and villains, princesses and fairies, and quiet girls who finally grew up.
Eventually, I grew up too. Today, it is thanks to widespread ignorance that I can read Tolstoy and Dickens with ease. It is thanks to the bigotry of racists that I grew up with the most spectacular imagination, translating my thoughts into words with the assistance of the authors I felt I knew personally. Today, it is thanks to the inability of that small town to accept my family that helped identify me as an avid reader, a published poet, and a girl who stands against intolerance.





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