learning my own skin color

I was seven years old when I learned I wasn’t white

I was seven years old

And a student in Ms. Moran’s first grade class

My cheeks were pink and my nose turned up

My hands itched with the desire to create

To love to be to exist

And I was so convinced

So sure that everyone around me felt the same way

That they all woke up thirty minutes before their parents did

Because their moms didn’t like to wake up so early

Just to see the sunrise

But you liked holding your breath as the sun came up

And you liked seeing the stars disappear

So thirty minutes before your mom came downstairs

And yelled at you for being late to the first grade

You would be sat outside

The grass tickling your eager hands

As the sun blew all the stars out the atmosphere

You fancied yourself a bit of an artist

You drew your sun without sunglasses

Because you liked photorealism

And you could sing every opening song on disney channel

And you were seven years old

And you didn’t know you were different

You understood that not every kid there was like you

Most of them spoke perfect English

Most of them knew the answers to the questions your teacher asked

But you never noticed that

Not really

Not enough to feel divided

Not enough to notice

You weren’t like them

I was seven years old and it was seven am

And we were reciting the pledge

All of our eager hands over our fast beating hearts

Excited for the day because we had no reason not to be

And my school principal

Mr Shanks

Came on the overhead speakers

Good Morning

He said

And I agreed

For no reason in particular except that I was seven years old

And very content to be that way

For a moment

Before he started with the pledge

Started with

I pledge allegiance

And I did but I didn’t know why

I pledged allegiance to a flag

That meant nothing to me

To stars and stripes that didn’t claim me

That weren’t mine

But I lived on this soil

On this land of the free

And I agreed with my school principal

I pledge allegiance  

I said

To the United States of America

And then

For reasons I didn’t yet understand

Because I was seven years old and it was only seven am

And I was so excited

And so eager

To be with all my friends

For reasons I still don’t understand

They all turned around

And they looked at me

And one kid who

Had a little too much energy

A little too much indignance for a seven year old at seven in the morning

He pointed a finger that

I knew he had just removed from his nose

He pointed that finger at me

And I didn’t get it

I thought maybe

My bangs were out of place or that

Maybe

I was floating

I had finally learned to fly like I had always wanted

I thought

Maybe

My hair had turned pink

To match my cheeks because

It was much colder in Texas in January

Than it ever got in Brazil

And so I was always blushing

I thought

Maybe

There was someone behind me

Someone cool like

Princess Jasmine from Aladdin or

Patrick from Spongebob

Or whoever else seven year old kids get excited to see

I didn’t think

That maybe

He was shocked to hear

Me

But he was

And he let me know it he pointed his finger right in my face

Burned a whole right between my eyes

And said

You speak english?

I was seven years old the first time I wanted to disappear

Wished the ground could open up

And swallow me whole

Wished the sun would blow me out the classroom

The same way it did with the stars in the morning sky

And I wished

For the rest of the year that I was in Ms. Moran’s first grade class

That I was different

That my hair wasn’t so dark that my eyebrows weren’t so bushy

That my tongue didn’t speak a different language

I was seven years old when I learned I wasn’t white

And I was seven years old the first time I wished I was

 

This poem is about: 
Me

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