Thursday, July 16, 2009

black and white, and maybe some brown

Segregation/integration was an issue for our schools and community.As a result, I was bused from grades 6-10, to "the other school" further from home. When the stress of being separated from friends became too much, we found a way around the busing assignment just before sophomore year. The busing segment of my life met conveniently with the peak of puberty(for normally developing white or black children)(I got to wait until I was almost 16 to grow boobies and start my period ,another confidence booster). Each school year began with a racial head count at the beginning of each period, every day for the first 2 weeks. This compelling data was sectioned into 4 seemingly unmistakable groups. white boys. white girls. black boys. black girls. The polling was done aloud and with the intent to report balance and equality. After due questioning and multiple mis-pronunciations of my name, came the inquiries of my blackness or whiteness. There were NO others at this time. Only after the "Blacks" clamored in unison "she aint black", would I "claim" to be white.

Seven times daily, for 10 days, I made my painful debut for the new year. With all the attention my name demanded, it was impossible to hide my under-developed brownish body and angst. Surprisingly enough, I developed eating disorders that would help me to cope for the next 20 years. As I recall, Judith indicated that she was sorry for my unfortunate choice to be bulimic. I am certain she intended something different from what I heard. Surely, she would not judge the manifestation of my pain. It was a poor,if not unusual choice for someone who felt sad about being so skinny.

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