I don’t talk about this a lot. Or ever. But seeing as the gates of racism and hatred have been thrown open in this country I feel it’s an appropriate time to talk about it. My dad is black and my mom is white. In facial features I could be my mom’s twin, but I got my dad’s color and hair. My sister can easily pass for white, I can’t. I’m usually mistaken as either Hispanic or Native American in the winter when I’m pale, but in the summer I get dark.
I come from a small town. It’s a very small white town in the middle of Indiana that still holds a Christmas parade and a parade to start softball season. When I was little we lived in a house literally maybe two blocks from the elementary school.
I walked to school with our neighbor and my little sister every morning. But my neighbor was a middle schooler and my sister was only in kindergarten so I got to be a big girl and walk home by myself.
When I was in third grade I was only four houses away from home when I walked by a house where two high schoolers were skipping school. They were sitting on the roof above the porch and I remember being a little nervous because they were being loud and I didn’t know them. They had cans I know now were beer cans, but at nine years old I assumed it was soda. But I could see my front door at the end of the street and knew my mom was home with my sister and Power Rangers would be starting soon and that was enough to keep me walking.
As I walked by the boys saw me. And suddenly they were yelling at me. They were yelling about how dark I was, how ugly my hair was. They picked up rocks and sticks and beer cans and threw them at me and called me a little nigger bitch. And I didn’t know what to do. I knew they were using bad words, but I’d never heard the word nigger before. But the rocks hurt and a hurled can didn’t miss me by much so I ran home.
I was so scared I didn’t tell my parents about what happened for hours. I don’t even think I watched Power Rangers that day. I remember feeling so cold, like someone had filled my stomach with ice and that something really horrible had happened but I didn’t know how to describe it. I had always liked my skin color, I thought I looked like Pocahontas, my favorite Disney Princess, but now I felt like something was wrong with it. I felt dirty, like I shouldn’t like how I looked.
I finally told my parents what happened close to bed time. I don’t know what happened after that. I know my dad went down to talk to the people who lived at the house, but I never walked home that way again.
I am furious that the Nazi Cheeto won.
And don’t confuse my fury with hate.
I feel like hate and fury are often used as synonyms. They’re not. The Nazi Cheeto hates. Hate is what makes people scream Nigger Bitch at a nine year old girl on her way home from school. That’s hate.
Fury is fuel. Fury is what gives you the strength to stand against those people and take their blows and push back. Fury is what gives you the courage to look at those people next to you talking about building walls and telling them to shut their fascist mouths.
I am furious. And I will remain furious. I will not live in a fucking world where another small girl will have to walk home afraid that someone will hurt her because they hate. Because right now in the US there are small children who came home in tears because their classmates were taught that hate is okay, that hate is acceptable. There is somewhere in the US another small girl looking at her skin and thinking something is wrong with her, that she is ugly, that she is not right. There LGBT middle and high school students terrified of going to school, afraid that they will be hurt because they have seen that even adults hate them.
So I don’t care if my fury offends. I do not care if my fury hurts feelings. Because in every person I see that voted for the Nazi Cheeto I see those two boys sitting on their roof screaming at me Nigger Bitch.
But this time I am old enough, I am strong enough, I am brave enough to walk down that street with every single one of those scared children. I will protect anyone who is afraid of those screaming boys. I will not let those rocks hit anyone else.
And when we get home we’re going to have a snack and watch Power Rangers.