You Don’t Know Me
This tomboy. That little fast girl. Star. Punkin. Sweetpea. LexLeshay. You do not know me.
While you played with your rubber ducky, Barbie heads rolled around in my bath water detached from their bodies. While your mommy tucked you in at night, I rolled over on my one-person cot to look away from the plant that I slept under. While you played with your friends outside, I prepared ramen noodles in the microwave to enjoy as I did all of my homework in one sitting. While you attended soccer practice and your soccer mom watched from the stands, I patiently waited for one of parents to come visit me. While you refused to try squid for the first time, I pushed the liver around my plate to make it look as though I was actually eating it. You do not know me.
The little girl who was forced to wear a pretty dress for picture day, with white ruffle socks, white bows, and white gloves to match. The little girl who loved to dance but could not participate in ballet anymore, could not participate in tap class anymore and practiced the whole year but was not able to march in the Philadelphia Memorial Day parade because of someone else’s ego. The little girl raised by strangers who she is no longer in contact with, the same girl who was taught life’s toughest lessons from watching Three’s Company, Diffr’nt Strokes and The Facts of Life. You do not know me.
The girl who’s first encounter with a gay boy led to her first suspension because he too thought he was a girl and put his hands on her. The same girl who fought a seventh grader when the bell rang ending her third-grade year because her attitude was too positive. The girl who was bullied for not knowing how to jump double-dutch, having hairy arm-pits (not allowed to shave when puberty came at 8), nose was too big, hair was always done, hair wasn’t straight etc. The leader of her first-grade class, always on the honor roll and award winner for poetry recitations. That little girl most white kids loved to follow but ghetto kids hated. Bullied at school to be yelled at in her home later for not bringing home a B or higher. Forced to sit at the computer with Ms. Mavis Beacon after being chased by the Pitbull who always seemed to misplace his leash. You do not know me.
It wasn’t until the transition from a low-income inner-neighborhood predominantly minority school to the suburbs that I was even questioned about who I was in the world. There I discovered I was black, that’s when I discovered I was a girl and needed to become more feminine, when I knew I was dumber than I had been previously awarded for and most importantly when I noticed the difference in the level of education for low-income to middle-class Americans. You didn’t think a fourth grader could think that deep. Thank Ms. Beacon, 60-minutes and the lonely nights crying and praying on the one-person cot. You do not know me.
While most kids hung outside, I practiced ‘what would life be like if _____’ and read various books. Fully emerged into the story and taking what I learned into my own writing, I created a book. Made the paper from scratch, drew the artwork, created a title, plot and characters, got it laminated; never finished the story. A self-published, unfinished book; that is how I describe my life now. Why? You didn’t ask. You do not know me.
This whole piece is about how you do not know me. So why are you still reading? Is it because you are learning a few things from the few sentences I gave you? There is no narrative here. The story is still unwritten but you never ask, do you actually, really want to know me? Take a moment here to ask yourself. If not, stop reading and remember that you do not know me.
If you are still reading at this point, you are obviously ready for The Long Story Short (TBR: September 1st, 2018)