December 2000 | 2nd Grade
The coldest winter without snow.
The coldest Christmas I spent indoors.
Unwrapping gifts in silence.
Unwrapping gifts he bought me.
He never got to see me Unwrap them.
I never got to say goodbye.
He passed away before we could see him one last time.
It was a peculiar experience when we did get to his room.
I didn’t know he died.
I didn’t hear any beeping.
I didn’t hear a flatline.
Just my father laying in a hospital bed.
That’s when my mother changed.
I didn’t see her smile anymore.
Not the real one.
Just the one she meets people with.
I lost my smile that day too.
I found solace in reading.
It provided me an escape from my new reality.
It provided me a different place to be.
A place where I could make up my own reality.
2001 | 3rd Grade
New Year, but I try to maintain the same me.
I didn’t learn as easy anymore.
I became less motivated to read.
My belief in myself dimmed.
My teacher, at the time, would give out prizes when answering questions about the book we were supposed to read.
She kept calling on this one white boy.
Occasionally she called on a couple of other white students.
But she kept going back to calling on this one white boy.
I was confused as to why, as I am almost jumping out of my seat to get her attention.
I knew the answer.
I wanted a prize too.
But she never called on me during this time.
She had no problems calling on me when there was no prize to win.
I took that personally…
I felt like I was experiencing that thing I read in the WEB du Bois biography book my mom kept in the house.
This was the first time I felt racism affect me.
I grew resentment as I held in my emotions to maintain peace.
I found an opportunity for creative expression when we were assigned a biography report project in school.
My teacher said “… You can do your presentation about any prominent figure in American History…”
So that’s what I did.
Pictures with text descriptions…
Arts & Crafts cut-out letters spelling
I can’t lie… it did make me feel better.
Feeling the walls of racism caving in on me, I expressed that I will defend myself against it.
I don’t believe it to be coincidence that during this time I was also moonlighting as a College Student in my Mother’s Early Childhood Education classes.
IBM wasn’t enough, so she went back to college to become a teacher.
I used to assume a seat and take notes like the class was for me.
In their eyes, I was just the classes little mascot; helping them to stay focused.
In my eyes… I was getting the cheat codes for my own education.
Creating a plan to express myself perpetually.