“i heard that white people stink when they get wet.”
the kids behind her laughed a little and more than that, they watched, wondering what would happen next.
“do you think if i spit on you, you’d stink?”
she was just a girl i went to school with. i knew she was going to spit on me then, just like she’d kicked my lunch and just like she pulled my hair when she sat down behind me in math class.
i never said a word.
the kicking and the pulling and the spitting couldn’t ellicit one sound from my throat. when the anger doesn’t have a voice, heaviness settles around the heart, weighing a child down.
what i’ve told myself, my thoughts about my schooling as a child are that she was just a girl. we were kids. there’s the whole race issue to unravel in moments like those and we didn’t know where the thread began. reverse-racism. just kids. sorry about my luck.
in college i took a course on african-american theatre. the professor lectured on the singularity of the black experience in america, one that a white person could never understand.
i raised my hand.
i said i thought i understood it a little.
this wasn’t appreciated.
i maintained that i thought maybe i could. i didn’t tell her about the danger and the small violence i endured soley because of skin color. i didn’t talk about being the only one of a particular race in a different majority classroom for years and what that d