No Marshmallows, Just Term Papers
I remember it as if it were just yesterday; the end of my innocence as I knew it at the age of five. I was a sweet child, surrounded by a mother, father, grandmother and five uncles who kept me fed, clothed and safe. I was respectful to my elders, obedient as the time of our world dictated and loved by everyone in my family. My life was great, or so I thought at the time, until we moved from Harlem and all that looked like me to Queens, NY for a “better” life and people who hated me because of the color of my skin. Let me explain.
I was a fair-skinned, Black girl with so-called “good” hair that flowed down my waist. I was the child of a mother whose skin was the color of vanilla ice cream and a father who was the color of dark espresso. An almost perfect blend of the two, my mother’s genes seemed to have won the battle since I am almost the spitting image of her, but my father lived in my personality. To this day I am mistaken for Latina because of my blended background which includes African American, Native American, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and a bit of Scottish thrown in for good measure. However, I am a proud of and duly claim my Black heritage. I wasn’t raised to focus on color or race. I was taught that all men are created equal and that as long as I strive to be the best I can, surely God, in his infinite wisdom, will lift me up to mountains on-high. The beliefs and principles that were imbedded into my soul were stripped bare one day, back on the playground during the mid 60’s. A single word struck a cord in my life that would shape my experiences forever. This six letter word “Nigger” cut me deeper than I could have ever imagined the time I first heard it.
I was playing with my little white girlfriend during recess from kindergarten class one day. She pushing me higher and higher on the swing outside our Catholic school. I felt the wind whooshing past my cheeks as the Sun rained down on my swinging braids. I laughed...