He Represents the World

October 27, 2011
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Why are you the only black girl in our Honors class?
I started to laugh.
Who wouldn’t?
This was coming from a friend, but then
I saw he was serious
And I realized
He was an idiot.

And he helped me.
His expression bold with false innocence warned me this conversation was not gonna be pretty.
So I drew myself up in my desk and turned to face him.
We stared at one another, all thoughts of Algebra 1 in the gutter.
I grasped at the final hope that his question was harmless,
And I tentatively answered, “I don’t know.”
There was a boom in the distance, or did I see it in his eyes?
He uncovered the manhole in his face and
spewed all sorts of sewage in my ears.
It was defiling.
I was disgusted.
I said a mental apology to my counselor,
because my “passion” was about to get ugly.
The air stank of the assumptions and stereotypes.
My eyes watered, my nose flared.
My heart dropped, because I knew this is how he felt
every time his eyes landed on colored skin.
But no one saw my hurt.
All they chose to see was anger.
And so I gave in and let him believe he was right, if only for that moment.
I cursed him out, and I strutted right out of that honors class.
A class that was now colorless.

I burn with a disturbing hate when your pink lips tell me about myself.
When you vomit lies about my race.
When you tell me that all black girls are whores,
That we will all be pregnant before graduation.
That all black men are violent and jail-bound.
When you say the only use for them being the NBA and NFL,
You piss on me without calling it rain.
You spit in my face and walk away.
Those words formed the foulest lies known to man.
But still his statistics, his offensive words, and that one question
guided me in dealing with myself.

After that incident, I went through four stages.
When I left the room, I was angry.
No, worse than angry; vengeful.
I wanted to jab him in the mouth so hard that he would never speak again.
Fewer words from him meant less ignorance spread.
As I strode down the hall, I became annoyed.
The terrified look on his face kept nagging at my conscience.
It made me feel as if I were the antagonist in this novel I was tossed into; when in reality he provoked me.
As I descended the stairs, I became sad.
Not for him. Ha! I could care less.
But for my confused classmates and their far away stares that were burning holes in my back.
Some stares blaming him, some blaming me.
But as I finally reached my counselors office and turned the knob,
I felt an eerie calm.
And I liked it.
I knew this whole situation happened for a reason.
Should I tell him how my mother braids my hair and
whispers wisdom in my ears?
Should I feed him the pound cake made rich
by the worn hands of my grandmother?
No, he wouldn’t understand how her strict advice
somehow makes my braids tighter.
His taste buds couldn’t detect the secret ingredient
in that cake that makes it notoriously addictive.
He could never comprehend any of it.

So attention all backyard bigots: I’m here! I’ve been here my whole life.
I’ve been in this predicament where I’m the lonely dot on the white canvas,
Where I’m the fly in the sea of milk.
If you don’t like my impressive IQ level, if you don’t like my solid A’s,
If you think somehow I’m your lesser, I’ll set you straight.
My words are my most powerful weapons.
It’s so sad that I have to say this in the 21st century,
but I’m sick of it being overlooked.
My paper screams in protest as I write this, but racism is very much alive.
And it’s not just you, dear classmate.
Look around.
It may be everyone.
So I’m thanking you for this sickening realization.
It’s opened my eyes.
He is my classmate. He represents my world.

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