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TRUST JESUS TODAY
It's hard to communicate what a damaging affect one thoughtless question can have on a small child. Upon finishing, I wasn't sure if I really caught it what I was after. This piece was supposed to serve a dual-purpose. 1)To help the reader get-to-know St. Jude Elementary, and 2)to offer a theory on the perpetuation of a "ghetto mentality" that keeps the new generation from raising the status quo as they grow older.
Let me know if you feel either objective needs work. I'm not sure what it needs, but I feel there's still something lacking...
Elementary school is a place where young minds should be nurtured.
Dreams of space travel and fighting fires need approval for the time being.
Saint Jude never offered any of us that. We got a whole different education.
But at least we knew we were safer than the public school kids.
Peter had those kinds of dreams.
His mom was a police officer.
He wanted to be a pro wrestler like Hulk Hogan.
If that didn’t work out, he’d be a police officer.
He always got A’s…
Except for that one time he got a B+ and cried until he had to be excused.
I doubt his mom hit him, but he certainly was under a lot of pressure.
He never came to school with bruises anyway.
Never left with them either. His mom had him in karate.
One time I tried to pick a fight with him. Probably just to fight.
He struck a “Danielson” pose and said “I know Karate.”
The kid’s limbs were like toothpicks.
He didn’t talk a lot, and wasn’t prone to lying.
Not only did he lack daring, but he lacked the muscle
To back up such a bold statement if he was only bluffing.
Lots of kids used to claim to know karate…
But since his mom was a cop, I believed him.
You’d think that’d be enough to make me stop, eh?
You forget my prideful nature.
I wasn’t gonna’ risk a physical confrontation…
But I wasn’t gonna’ let him think I was scared of him either.
I wanted fear where I felt it belonged. On his side.
I told him I knew how to fight like a barbarian.
My great, great uncle came over to America on a Viking ship
And brought the Viking combat to the Indians there.
Unlike karate, barbarians didn’t chop with hands
They chopped with swords.
Then, realizing that I had no sword at my disposal…
I confided that when we’re forced to fight with our hands, we GRAB your head
And SMASH it down into our knees! …And it normally crushes the skull.
I’m not sure Peter ever believed my story…
But he believed that I was not to be messed with.
And then there was the Jew. A Jewish boy in a Catholic school…
He said that he believed in God, and that was enough for me.
I could see that he was a nice kid.
He could see that I was very mean.
So he and Peter both took comfort in having my protection as friends.
We weren’t the only white boys, but we were a minority still.
We stuck together. But I had other friends.
Like Milton, the kid with the Nike pump shoes in gym class…
We thought his mom was loaded!
We planned to build a board game business one day.
Just like Milton Bradley.
He told me he had a cousin named Bradley, and I said I didn’t believe him.
I was really more concerned with both name likenesses being on his side.
My first business venture ended in only seconds.
Then there was James. He idolized Michael Jackson.
Could do the moonwalk and everything.
Teeny little guy. Once came to school with a killer tummy ache.
His mom took him to Burger King for breakfast, and he insisted on the Whopper.
She said he’d better eat the whole thing if she bought it.
James’s stomach just wasn’t that big, I guess…
I liked a girl named Katie. I also liked the X-Men cartoon on Saturday mornings.
One day I figured out I could put pencils in-between my fingers and make claws.
I borrowed enough pencils to make six claws and walked by her desk
I turned around and said “Freddy Kreuger versus Wolverine!” She screamed.
I got in trouble for that one… freak thing was she LIKED me after that…
Her mom talked to my mom, and I went over to her house to play on one occasion.
We played Blades of Steel for NES, and I never let her win. Not once.
I was more focused on my Nintendo game than my pick-up game I guess…
Then, there was Moody. Darel Moody. The biggest, fattest, tallest black kid in our class.
I’m not sure how… probably something I said without thinking…
But I found myself getting shoved by Moody in the bathroom after gym class.
I never thought a kid our age could be that strong. Moody nearly sat me on my butt.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand up to another push…
So while I was still reeling, I gathered all the momentum I could
Came back at him and shoved with my whole body.
Moody was top-heavy. A thought that had never occurred to me.
He kept stumbling backward and hit his head on a paper towel dispenser
He slid down the wall an sat there, eyes bugging, shaking the birds away.
Tiny little James stepped-up and said “HEY! That’s my FRIEND!”
“YOU want some?!” James stood down immediately, but I heard more grumbling.
“WHO wants some? Now or never!” I was a made man from that day forth.
Bathroom scrappin’ in the third grade.
I was the one white boy who couldn’t be messed with.
The fourth graders weren’t scared of me though…
We used to play in the center curt during recess.
All of us ran around like yahoos playing tag.
I bumped into someone smaller than me on accident. Clocked heads.
The kid was crying hard and the teacher noticed, but I had other problems…
The student aid was a fourth-grader. The kid’s older brother.
He slanted the whole story. Said he was watching.
Made it sound like I spotted his little brother and zoomed-in for the hit.
I fought detention. Told them it was an accident.
Refused to get in line with the bad kids.
The ignorant old wench reared her head back and said
“What makes you think you so special?”
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out…
“What makes you so special, huh?”
“Why don’t you think you should have to get in line with all of these kids?”
“What gives them the right to be punished, and not you?”
All of the little black kids in the “bad kids” line stared at me.
“What makes you so special?” she continued…
I wanted to finish her sentence for her.
“Cuz you white? You think the rules don’t apply to white kids?”
“You think you’re better? Is that what makes you so special?
Why you can’t get in line with these other black kids?”
I could see it in her eyes, and I could hear it in the tone of her voice.
I wasn’t being tried as a kid who did something wrong.
I was being tried as a WHITE kid who hit a BLACK kid (on accident)
And nobody would let me explain myself.
I wanted to smack her in the face, but I was probably too short.
I wanted to denounce her and tell her about the God I learned about every Wednesday
Who makes all men equal, regardless of race.
I wanted to tell her that men have a right to a fair trial before being sentenced
Sentenced to a crime I did not commit.
I was singled out by an older brother who wanted revenge
And now eyes were shifting between EVERY brother there.
I got in line and took the detention like a man.
But that question always stuck with me.
YES, I am special! That’s what you teach me every Wednesday, Sister Mary!
I’m special because I’m going to be an astronaut! And a professional wrestler!
And Peter will be too. And after we win our tag titles, he’s gonna go fight crime!
Every single one of us kids were special back then. I still believe it!
Race card or not, what teacher tells a kid he’s not special?
And Detroit schools WONDER why so many kids fail?
Because ALL of them are taught that NONE of them is special. At least, my class was.
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