by Brenda Joy Dobson
Her father, Lee, died by the time she
got a spanking from Mama for pissin' in her cloth diaper twice in a two-minute interval
yes, even as an infant, she had learned to do things for extra attention
had her first bus ride from north to south when she learned to read the words white and colored...signs of separation, everywhere...at the age of four, she learned that skin-color made her different...
had endured "unspeakable acts" by older kids that began when she was a toddler because she was told that she'd like it
learned, that as a boy, Abraham Lincoln read by fireplace, firelight...she decided to do it, too, until one night the book caught fire....uh, by accident.
got spit on the first day of school by a little girl just because she tried to "meet 'n greet" a new friend
learned that friends were few even though no signs of separation existed like it did in the south
learned that she was hated for being brown on the playground
learned that her Saura-Jewish-Irish roots didn't count, brown was unfashionably- unfavorable; Alas! She'd act out ole English plays for comedic relief -- shame on thee, you weak-minded scally-wags, who dareth label me a black winch of the forest.! BE GONE!! ..oh, where your cruel, black hearts dwell. Be gone, I say!!
learned that the "N" word wasn't abbreviated by school kids who found burgeoning humor in poking fun of brown-skinned people
learned that playing a cruel tag game of 'You've Got the Cooties' was a daily event that she experienced in the halls, actually, everyday, everywhere...she often ate lunch alone, on meals that tasted of ashes
learned that staying indoors and drawing pictures of her Native-American Jesus wasn't tolerated during recess
learned that it was okay for Teacher to slap her hands or or thrash her back with a ruler or pull her long black braids when she made mistakes at the chalkboard
learned that paste tasted like soothing peppermint...Teacher's "in-her-face" breath always smelled like bitter celery and oranges
learned not to complain about stomach pains, when it was her heart that ached, endlessly
learned that heaven was a beautiful place, her day- dream retreats in class became an art form for meeting her father who transitioned when she was a newborn...
...well, until the pain of Teacher's ruler grazed her shoulder..."Read," shouted Teacher!
...She came zooming back from her "comfort-place" by the feel of a chapter book being shoved in her hands, entitled, "Slavery in American."
As instructed, she begins reading aloud; the kids turn around, pointing and snickering as though it's her life story...hateful kids, with sanctioned behaviors, undisciplined by Teacher
She learned that school-survival with weak-minded schoolmates wasn't going to be a comfortable experience... ever!
Therefore, she couldn't wait to get home and start reading that slavery book by fireplace- firelight and watch the pages catch on fire...uh, by accident.