As a child, I was obviously different from every other boy around. While other five-year-old “bros” were outside trying to “bag” each other’s nutsacks and kick each other off of the monkey bars, I was sitting in air conditioning trying to determine which soundtrack to My Fair Lady had the best Liza. I was different to say the least.
Because of this, I had a lot of time to observe others and find out what made people tick. In all fairness, an elementary school in the ghetto of Illinois isn’t exactly prime space to study human behavior, but I did the best with what I was given. What I witnessed everyday at recess is what can only be described as a hierarchy.
Everyday I would slowly walk to the doors that led to our playground. I imagine that what I felt during those days is close to what soldiers feel as they climb out of the holes of their tanks and brave the streets of Iraq. The mission had to be completed, no matter the cost. The cost those days for venturing the playground in the ghetto depended on the season. If it was during the spring or fall, the only abuse that occurred was verbal. Teachers still watched you back then, even if they WERE on their smoke breaks. The worst season to be out on the playground, however, was definitely winter. Winter provided little mean kids with nature’s weapon. SNOW. A teacher didn’t think twice if she saw seventeen kids pummeling one tiny boy with snowballs. After all, “Boys will be boys.”
Ghetto recess was as dangerous as some federal prison cafeterias. At the top of this bully pyramid was “The Black Girls.” These were the girls you avoided on the swings, avoided in class, and avoided all eye contact with. Life was rough for a white kid, especially a white kid who didn’t know how to speak slang. If you were a boy, you better have a pair of low-rise jeans and you best be sportin’ corn rows.
(I secretly think the boys were jealous of my beautiful locks of blonde hair)
But nevertheless, I wasn’t “fresh” and my Osh’Kosh shirts looked like “dookie”…a word I later learned meant, “poop.”
Luckily, I wasn’t a girl. Girls had to wear little plastic bows in their hair and god forbid your “auntie” not be your hairdresser. All hell would break loose on those monkey bars if a girl lost her pink, plastic, clip-on bow. Supposedly that action resulted in an “ass-beatin'” at their homes. This resulted in seven or eight girls trying to sift through wood chips like they were looking for gold. Let me note that these search missions rarely ended in success.
As you read this, you are probably thinking I am writing about a stereo-typical black child…but in actuality, this is what my childhood consisted of. I was the white guy out. My best friend, Kitwana, was “too white” to be black….even though she was originally from Panama. We were perfect for each other; one Saltine cracker and one eloquent black girl from Panama.
Through this jungle of a public school, Kitwana and I ventured.
Below The Black Girls, were the lesser known girls, who for some reason, could never be as “down to Earth” as TBG. The Black Girls kept power by their strength in numbers. There were never more than nine of them and all of them sat on top of the monkey bars at lunch. Below them (literally) stood the wannabes. These are the girls that TBG called “fake” and “desperate.” They didn’t care if your parents bought you Barbie’s or if you even had parents. TBG was looking for a certain look, drive, and what I could only comprehend as bitchiness.
Their response to ANY and EVERY confrontation was and probably still is, “Is it because I’m BLACCK!?!”
Because I went to a 93% African-American public elementary school, this excuse rarely ever got much sympathy. It was clear what race ruled the school. A little marshmallow like me never stood a chance.
Basically, my days in elementary school smelled like dookie.