My name is Acura. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I am just like any other girl. I eat, I sleep, I laugh, and I cry... I cry a lot. Lots of people like me do. When I say people like me, I mean colored people. Black people. We get picked on a lot by people where I live. I hear it goes on everywhere. It makes me very sad. But like I said, I am just like any other girl. I still go to school every morning. I still eat lunch like the other kids, and I still learn stuff. Anyways, it is 6:30 in the morning and I need to get ready for school. I find my backpack right beside the door where my mom always puts it. I grab it and walk out the door right after I give my mom a hug. I am an only child and live with just my mom. Mom says my dad left when I was around 2 years old. I always wonder what he would be like. Would he love me? Would he recognize me if we saw each other in the street? I really don't know...
I walk out into the pothole riddled street located directly in front of my run down, tiny apartment. I see my mom come out of the house to go to her job as a secretary. Our apartment landlord hikes up our rent because of our skin color. He told us once that its, "what we deserve." Mom is always working jobs and I pretty much only see her in the mornings before school or late at night just as I am going to bed. I understand she has to work all these jobs but it is quite saddening that I don't get to see her too much. As I am walking down the sidewalk by the road, I see a pair of very rude boys who pick on me every morning. Just two houses down, you could already tell that their house is in much better condition than our apartment building. One of the taller boys who had streaked back blonde hair said, "How was it like sleeping in that shack last night?"
The rest of his friends snickered behind him. I try to ignore them the best I can. I try to walk away from the group but two other people blocked my path. Another boy and a girl. The girl was related to the blonde haired boy and the other guy was their friend. Either way, they all delighted in bullying people "less than them." There is always a cop that patrols around the neighborhood each morning. You would think I would ask him for help and say that this group of people are bothering me but you then you would've thought wrong.
You see, I tried doing that the first day I moved here and the same thing happened. I called out to the police officer and he walked across the street to see what the problem was. I told the officer that these people were harassing me and not letting me get to school. The officer glanced very quickly at the 3 kids and gave a little wink. He turned his gaze back at me and said in a very grizzly hateful voice, "You shouldn't even be able to go to school"
He turned back at the group and said, "Good job guys" and the officer turned away and walked back across the street to where he was before I stood there with a very shocked expression on my face. My mother always told me that the police were their to help and protect people but clearly this one did not. Ever since then, I had to go back around my house and take the long way to school.
Fast forward to today and it is the same story. I always see the police officer, the group of kids, and the pathway around the back way of my house which was the long way to school. Ever since that day, I ignore the cop and he me, and I always run into that same group of kids and I'm always forced to go the long way to school. You might be wondering why I even bother going in the direction of them in the first place and I really don't know. I guess everyday I pray to God that someday they would accept me for who I am.
I go around the path by my house and take the long way to school. This path leads by the downtown area of my city and everyday I walk, I pass by many places like the theater, little candy shops, business buildings and restaurants. All the buildings have windows on them and on some of the windows there is a sign that says something like, "Colored People NOT allowed" or "Only White People" It always made me sad to see those signs. My mom and I would sometimes see people walk out of those restaurants with great smelling food. Of course, there were restaurants that allowed people like us but even these restaurants were quite cheap and were not in great condition. I walked across the street and my school was in sight. Surprisingly, my school wasn't fully segregated between white people and black...
They did however have white and black classrooms, lunchrooms, bathrooms, and even water fountains. The white people would get the newest textbooks and the colored people would get the ripped up hand-me-downs. One school year I witnessed some person named Jackson get a brand new textbook. He slowly got a smug smirk on his face and looked behind him where I sat. He held out his old textbook and ripped a good couple of pages in half and then spat inside the book, closed it strongly, and threw it on my desk. The teacher saw all of this and she just smirked and walked off. Most of the other white kids weren't as "fierce" about giving their old books away but Jackson was. He was just full of anger and hate all the time. I got inside the school building and went to the Colored Only bathroom. Some of the other white kids laughed and pointed fingers at me and whoever else went in these bathrooms. The toilets didn't flush half the time and the pipes were cracked and in poor condition. Oh well, what can you do? After I got done using the bathroom, we waited in the main gym/common area until we were dismissed and told to go to our classrooms. I have a few friends in school. But only a few. Their names are Katcha and Becca. We only get to talk at recess because we are taught in different classrooms. They are both black girls like me. I always try to befriend some of the white girls in my class but whenever I try and talk with one of them, they roll their eyes and ignore me like I'm not there. The only nice white person at my school was the janitor named Mike. He treated us all equally and he even came up and asked me how my day was. He eventually quit his job because his family was moving and he wanted to be closer to them. I bet the school really liked that he quit. I really do miss him. He was very nice.
We start off our day doing attendance. My crabby teacher named Mrs. Jensen always head counted each of us. I do not like my teacher. The white kids would break rules. They would get punished, of course, but if we broke any rules, it was 10 times worst. If anyone argued, we would get kicked out of the room. If any black girls or boys asked questions, she would hardly help us. Anyways after attendance, we did Math and English class and then went out to recess. There is not much to do really. It's just a big open cement space with a fence around it. There is a soccer goal but no soccer ball. We used to have one but it got popped by a rowdy group of kids. Everyone basically grouped up and talked for 10 minutes. When I went outside, I saw two white boys around the corner beating up on a short black boy, probably the same age as them. They kept on punching and kicking him. He coughed up blood and yelled in agony. Everybody just looked at the commotion and continued talking. It was no use trying to help him. They always come out on top. I talked with my two friends and then went back inside the building. We were all used to the violence around here. If the teachers ever did anything (they rarely did) the students being violent never got harsh punishments, that is, if they were white. Sometimes the black students would get blamed for starting the fight by the teachers.
My next class was Social Studies. This class was my favorite. We all had equal textbooks in all good condition. We mainly learned about early America and how far this country has come since 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, freeing the United States from Great Britain. I loved learning about the different wars we had and the other presidents we've had as well. The teacher handed out textbooks and told us to turn to chapter 3. We were going to learn about slavery in the United States. This was bound to be taught but I still felt uncomfortable reading through it I guess. I noticed menacing eyes all around me and my friends and maybe some distant laughs and snickers in the back of the classroom. Our teacher was also smirking and eyed us all deeply, her face looking a bit mad but in a happy way, like we deserved to be learning about this, to make us feel bad perhaps? To everybody's surprise, an older white girl maybe 1 year older than me raised her hand. The teacher called on her quickly. The older girl (which I later learned her name was Jane) looked kind of nervous but still looked like she had something to say. The teacher said, "Speak child!"
The teacher has a grim smile on her face, probably expecting her to say something bad about our kind. Instead she did what nobody expected. She kind of stood up for us. She said quite quietly, "Why were we and still are so racist today?"
Mrs. Jensen's face turned into a rotten grape and said sternly, "Well, child, it's because it's exactly what these 'people' deserve. She flashed those cold eyes at me.
The older child looked hurt. She said, "But ma'am, they never did anything wrong. It seems like our people did!"
Without any hesitation, Mrs. Jensen snapped her arm forward toward the exit door and wiggled her old scarred finger and said quite loudly, "Get out of my classroom Jane. NOW!!"
Jane slowly and nervously got out of her desk seat and stumbled to the exit. Before she left, she said, "This is not right Mrs. Jensen, none of this is right!"
She turned back around and slammed the door loudly. The whole classroom was silenced. Big white eyes looked around (mainly at us). The teacher's face got very red and she gave my friends and I a very chilled stare of hate. "Happy now?"
The rest of the class went on smoothly on quietly. Once school was dismissed for the day, we walked out of the classroom and saw Jane curled up in a ball, her eyes red and puffy from crying. My friends and I stared at her while everyone walked past. Two students, a boy and a girl walked past slowly by her and both said "Blackie Lover."
My friends decided to leave and go home. I waited for them to leave and then I approached her slowly and kneeled by her. She made eye contact with me. She said very quietly, "My mom said that all people are born equal and that this is the "Land of the Free."
We talked for a bit and I got to know her more. Her father is out of town for a job and her mom was at home ironing clothes. I decided that I would invite her to my house sometime this weekend with my other friends. She happily agreed and both went our separate ways home. I got home and told my mom the news. She was quite excited that I made another friend. Mom said that Jane could stay over for dinner if she wanted to as well. I was quite happy and fell asleep easy that night.
The next day, I was doing the same routine, get dressed, brushed my teeth, ate breakfast, and walked out of the door after giving my mom a big hug. I saw Jane at school again and in a much better mood than yesterday. My other friends met her and we all got along well. Just another day of boring school. We got more looks than usual but that was to be expected. Nobody at my school heard of a white girl hanging out with our kind. After Social Studies class, we headed home all together. We got to my neighborhood and my mom was outside in front planting some flowers. She noticed me and my group of friends. My mom was examining person by person like she always did until she spotted Jane. Her eyes got big and I think she accidentally dropped her garden spade. She got up quickly and gave Jane and heartwarming handshake. She looked at me and said, "I didn't know you were THIS good at making friends."
She chuckled lightly and invited us to dinner. For once in my short life I was truly happy. Happy for being the person I am, happy for having a great mom, happy for making a great new friend, and happy for actually feeling EQUAL!
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