Are there any others who feel this way?

Written in response to: Start your story with a character saying “Are you there, God? It’s me…”... view prompt

16 comments

African American Coming of Age

T/W: microaggressions, racism

Are you there, God? It’s me, a Black girl. Somewhere. 

I’m writing to you because I have just one question to ask. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short. Then, I’ll be outta your hair for the rest of eternity (or however long you live). My question is . . . 

Actually, before I get to my question, I have another question. Do you hate me, God? I only ask because today Courtney sat on my desk and crinkled my papers and asked if she could touch my hair. I’d just taken my single plaits out so my hair had some extra floof to it—I’m sure you know the sort. Whenever I turned my head it would bounce playfully against my neck and Courtney, the popular white girl in my class, wanted to touch it. I told her “sure” so she wrapped her finger around one of my curls and tugged hard. It hurt like hell and I wanted to rip my hair away but I let her keep tugging until Miss Smithson told her to sit down. Courtney sauntered away. 

I want to think that Courtney was jealous of my hair. After all, hers is plain and straight and a very light blonde, not the deep rich cocoa and spontaneous frizz that mine is. Ironically, my ancestors were enslaved on cocoa farms. Perhaps that’s where they got pretty colored hair. Anyways, there are so many styles you can do with my hair, while Courtney’s has only two: ponytail and Dutch braids. I have endless possibilities like cornrows, box braids, lemonade braids, passion twists . . . the list goes on. 

God, this is evidence to support the fact that you don’t hate me, because you gave me so many hairstyle options. On the other hand, as Miss Smithson taught us to say, you made Courtney touch my hair. You created Courtney. Why would you create someone like Courtney? In my opinion (another Miss Smithson phrase), you should be making more of people who look like me. There are practically none in my school and none on the planet. You’ve slaughtered all of them, God, with the Atlantic Slave Voyage, killing 1.8 million, and then the enslavement in the Americas after that. 

I’ll have you know that Miss Smithson did not teach me that. I looked it up on my own. Right now, in class, we’re learning about the Colonials. How they traveled from Great Britain to set up a colony here and worked hard to make pots and weave and stuff. Miss Smithson also mentioned there were Native Americans in America and I wonder what was happening to them while the Colonials did crafts. 

God, do you know what happened to the Native Americans? 

Do you know what happened to the Africans? 

I bet you do, you just won’t tell me. 

What happens when I get older, God? Mama says my body won’t work and my hair will turn gray but I think she’s lying. I think she’s trying to scare me into being a child forever. I think that when I get older I can drive a car and buy my own candy at the store and tell all the white girls that they can’t mess with my hair. 

Speaking of candy, I went to get some candy the other day with my older brother Booker. He saw some of his neighborhood homies and went to talk to them in the refrigerated aisle, or the very cold Antarctica Aisle as I like to call it. I stood in line, picking out my favorite candy: Now and Laters. Mama says they’re an old candy and Booker makes fun of me for liking them but I can’t help myself; they’re too good. When it was finally my turn to pay, the cashier ignored me and faced the white man behind me. Did she see the fluff of my curls? I’m not so short that the counter blocked me from her view. Hello?

“Hello?” I said, my voice tiny as the white man walked away with his groceries. “I think it’s my turn to pay now.” 

“Is it?” the cashier woman said as she looked down at me. “Why don’t you let this nice lady go before you? She’s got lots of food to get home.” She smiled in a mean way with her yellow teeth against her light skin. 

I turned to glance at the woman behind me. 

She half-smiled. “No, honey, go ahead. I’m not in any rush.” 

I hesitantly paid for the candy and got the hell outta there, not bothering to wait for Booker. Papa doesn’t like me using words like “hell” or “bullshit.” He says they should only be used unless I’m truly angry, like I was that afternoon. 

That afternoon, God, I experimented with words you wouldn’t like but created nonetheless. As I stopped along the path home, I snapped my fingers aggressively and grumbled, “Hell, bullshit, crap.” Finally, I paused, looked at the sky, and shouted, “Goddammit!” for everyone to hear. Did you hear it, God? Did you feel my anger and frustration with the cashier and the world as the Earth rumbled under my feet? Is that your favorite swear word, God, just because it has your name in it? Or are you not a fan of swear words? Goddammit, I have so many questions that will never be answered. Oh well. 

While I was walking home and nearly there, I wondered if Mama would be mad that I left Booker at the store. Hopefully not. Hopefully she’s in a good mood today, not worried about Papa being excluded from the shipbuilding worker’s union thingy even though they need his labor. Mama has tried to explain it to me multiple times and I try to understand, I really do. I try to understand when she comes home screaming and slamming her bloody palms on the counter and telling us to fight for what’s right. After a few hours alone in her room, she’s calmed down and is ready to say one thing, the same thing she says every time: “So how was school today?” 

Booker and I always answer: “Good,” because we don’t want to burden her with anything else. Not like Courtney pulling my hair or the mean cashier at the store. Nope, nothing of the sort. Our days were merely good and will continue to be. Papa doesn’t like when I talk like this, matter-of-factly, but sometimes it has to be done. 

Right now, God, I am home. I am writing you a letter to ask one question, and now we’ve arrived at that time. Sorry that this letter has run a little longer than expected. It won’t happen again, I swear. This is my first and last and only letter. 

God, what do I do in a world that’s against me? 

And are there any others who feel this way as well? 

Two questions, I guess. Sorry. 

But thank you for listening, God. Thanks an awful lot. 

Yours truly, 

The same Black girl from the beginning 

February 08, 2022 04:48

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

16 comments

K. Antonio
00:33 Feb 12, 2022

I'm so late to reading this, but hopefully I can provide some insight. As someone who literally puts up most of their stories on Friday, I know all too well about the doubts and insecurity. ANYWAY. . . I actually liked the beginning. I thought the idea of bringing in the character's hair as an element of racism to be quite interesting. There's a book called "Queenie" in which the character goes through the same thing (the hair topic has actually appeared in a lot of books, it's a great example of a microagression). I like the playfulness ...

Reply

Scout Tahoe
00:57 Feb 12, 2022

❤️ THANK YOU I don’t mean to offend anyone on here, but your comments are actually helpful. They are always a deep analysis of the story and help me a lot! How should I rearrange it? Should I completely take out the slave trade part? If you can’t answer by the time the contest ends, that’s alright. I might not even submit anyways. Sometimes I feel like it’s hopeless for my writing because I pay almost every week and it’s not recognized. I’m usually not so focused on winning but soon enough I’ll have to just post to my profile because I won’...

Reply

K. Antonio
01:22 Feb 12, 2022

I'm only going to say this because I've read a lot of your earlier work. I'm a big fan of writing what you know (not that we shouldn't experiment but writing things that sometimes feel comfortable to us and hit closer to home is actually a great). Your other story about your Grandpa was actually recommended by the judge who read it and was among the stories fighting for the win and shortlist on competition #129 (don't know if you caught that or not that week). Anyway, writing has always been a a fierce area. But when I look at your profile...

Reply

Scout Tahoe
05:28 Feb 12, 2022

Thank you! 🎈You totally brightened my day. I’m honestly super tired and have a hard case of writers block, and I’m so sorry I unloaded my emotional baggage on you. I’ll change the story asap, great feedback from you. How can a judge see what stories were recommended? How did you know that? Sorry just curious and still new to judging haha. How do you have such good writing advice?? Experience only gets you so far. Yours is a gift.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Waverley Stark
20:16 Feb 23, 2022

J'ai lu votre profil, et je parle aussi français. Salut, mon ami!

Reply

Scout Tahoe
14:38 Mar 01, 2022

Salut! Je suis très excité te parler! Desolé, ma français est très mal.

Reply

Waverley Stark
19:44 Mar 01, 2022

Ah, non, pas de problem. J'aime pratiquer parce que mes amis ne parlent pas le français. :) Et vous? Et aussi... vous m'avez dit que vous êtes "turned on" en me parle. Est-ce que vrai? 😂

Reply

Scout Tahoe
01:38 Mar 02, 2022

QUOI?! J’ai dit quoi? I meant to say I’m excited to be talking to you but I told you my French sucked!

Reply

Waverley Stark
16:48 Mar 04, 2022

"Excité" means turned on basically, lol. Like it's excited still, but... sexually. Ne vous inquiétez pas ! Je fais souvent des erreurs. Je dois m'entraîner à parler français.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
07:31 Feb 21, 2022

Your dog is downright adorable. Idk why I've never said this before. Nice piece.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Calm Shark
05:43 Feb 08, 2022

Hey Scout! It's funny that you never even read it over. I think you shouldn't submit it for the contest. It is good, don't get me wrong, but I think you should just not submit it. Whatever you think, Scout, it's your decision. Thanks for sharing!

Reply

Scout Tahoe
14:24 Feb 08, 2022

Hi, Calm! Thank you for your honesty. I know that it's not easy to win nowadays and I guess I should save my $5. What did you think of the story, just curious?

Reply

Calm Shark
15:40 Feb 08, 2022

It was very good, Scout. I loved how it was like a prayer, and how she felt.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Scout Tahoe
04:51 Feb 08, 2022

I'm not kidding: I just finished this and posted it without reading over. Currently, it is not submitted to the contest, so let me know if you think I should submit it. I'm trying to save my $5 for a story I think has potential, but whatever you guys think. (If it's a "no," don't be afraid to tell me.) Racism is a real problem in the world, especially America. Despite whatever race you are, you can still be an ally and stop microaggressions whenever you see/hear them.

Reply

Leslie Flemons
18:21 Feb 08, 2022

I loved that the story focused on racism and how the girl was being honest with God. I feel that the entry should be submitted as long as you edit it. It's good so far.

Reply

Scout Tahoe
20:58 Feb 08, 2022

Hmm, what should I edit? I'm the worst editor with my own work. Thanks, Leslie!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply