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Hope University

Understanding race
© - DanielBendjy
She walked to me and said: “You are my piece of coal“

I was born at the suburbs of New Harley as an Afro-American. No father, I never had that feeling to hear  mans’ voice at home. It was my mom and my older brother who I rarely see around me. It’s life itself, there were three souls have to survive and they had to leave comfort zone at the beginning of their life.  My brother never told me what he’s doing out there since I found out how he earned money. He was lying on the ground with a bunch of green papers in his hands , some of them were red like his forehead. I was just 5 years old, few years later I learned that it’s blood.


The day before my graduation from high school, my lovely mother passed away. At the ceremony I threw my cap as up as I could by the thought of my mother might touch it. To be honest, I felt a little bit alone after that. For feeling it in my bones, I came up with a crazy idea and there was nobody to stop me. Studying in a college which is full of white people.


I woke up to a morning which my friend was standing in front of bed with wet eyes and shaking cheeks, trying not to drop that piece of paper off his hands, saying I’ve won the scholarship in Hope University of Clementia.


It’s always hard to take the first step but it was much harder  than I thought. People were looking at me like they had seen a new species.  Professor never cared, I was like a black dot at the bottom of paper. If he had a chance to erase me, he would had definitely tried it. Classmates already had given a nickname to me “coal“. Not shiny, not precious, dirty, contaminating and of course black. For them, I was a piece of coal which accidently fall from a miner’s bag into diamonds zone.


I was curious about how my first conversation is going to be. It was just an “ Hi “ when I was trying to find an empty desk in the class. First, I couldn’t hear it loud and clear maybe because I was sitting at the very end of class. Then a pencil fell on my feet with a paper roll on it. It was written “ I said hi :) “ . When I lifted my heap up, I saw Her smile. Her white perfect face was shining as her eyes. It was the best “hi” I have ever had.


Four people were waiting for a penalty in principal’s room; me, Her, and two guys. There was a tooth missing for one of guys and for the other one I painted his eyebrows by few shades of purple. You are probably curious what is Her role in that.  When I heard the voices of hitting coals to window , immediately I ran outside, the guys were smiling at me and “ hey coal, we were just playing with your friends “ he said. A fist for painting  his eyebrow followed that speech. The other guy grabbed me from behind while painted guy standing up and starting to do his painting on my face.  Just few minutes later I felt like nobody was holding me anymore, when I turned my back, I saw the guy laying on the floor with a tooth next to him. And there was a girl who was holding a stick in her hands and smiling. Suddenly guys started to run away and promised us to see each other again.


It was our first incident that we involved so we got away with just a warning. Me and Her promised to each other whatever will happen, no matter how it’s going to be, we wouldn’t respond in same way again, it was the best for us and for our scholarships. From that fight on, I got close with Her, we were seeing each other almost everyday, having lunch, listening music sometimes if I’m lucky we were dancing. I was really into her but I always had that hesitation because of the difference …. I was worried about her friends, parents, students’ reaction against Her in case of being with a black person.


Of course the guys and their friends never let us live in peace. I will make it short for you; many threats written by coal on my desk, anonymous e-mails that offering me to change my skin tone, the room’s door of Her suddenly painted black on a midnight, the chef who put black painted boiled eggs on my tray at cafeteria and the rest…


Years had passed that way, It was annoying and rough to hold on but we managed it somehow. My only savior was Her smile in these years, whenever she put it on, I forgot that I’m black, even I forgot that I’m alive. There were just few days left to prom and I was not sure to ask her to join me because  I didn’t want to see Her feeling upset in front of everybody if a unpleasant joke comes up again.


We were having our lunch and she was just looking into my eyes like they are expecting me to ask that much needed question.  Me and Her had not talked until the last class, bell rang and there was only a word came out from Her mouth. “Bye“ I ran after Her, held Her hand “ Is there no one else that I want next to me on prom day, just you, your smile, your existence “ I was the happiest piece of coal when Her lips touched mines.


When I got back home, I saw lots of messages and missed calls on my phone. At that moment I realized all of them were Hers. When I heard Her sad voice I fell apart, our kissing video was all over the internet. “You kissed that black frog but it’s not going to be a prince“ , “I thought girls only like gold and diamond, coal must be a new fashion“ “There is not such a cleaning product to wash those lips now“


“I don’t care about anything“ I was saying to myself on the way of prom and holding a baseball bat in my hands. When I arrived, everybody was showing their shiny teeth to me. I was just going to smash the place down, I started to run towards dance floor, people were scared, no more shiny teeth, just black eyes filled with fear, dark black, like me. I got my aim at some random guy and lift my baseball bat up. Then I heard a voice. “Hi“ someone yelled out. I stopped for a second then I continued lifting my arms. Someone yelled out again “ I said hi “ That moment I couldn’t go any further. It was a familiar voice. It was Her voice. I turned my back but I couldn’t notice her in the crowd. Then I recognized Her smile, Her eyes but something was wrong with Her. First, I thought I lost my mind because of anger but then when people started to get away from her I was sure about that. I tried to take a closer look but it was all dark, how come such shiny face would become so dark. Her hands, her black hands were holding a piece of coal, her black lips were smiling, her black face was expecting a warm welcome. The coal in Her hands, the coal that she used to paint herself seemed so happy to be there. She walked to me and said “you are my piece of coal“. 


Author: Bora Akman, Alfa Albona

Published: Mon, 26/05/2014 - 15:12

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