One morning on a sidewalk, three brown-skinned girls walked to Edmund Middle School. All three were in 6th grade. Julia wore her hair in a ponytail. During the third grade, she was held back. Annette wore braids. Cassandra wore two afro puffs. Her skin was a shade lighter than the other two girls.
“There she go,” Annette said.
She was pointing across the street at Tara Davis, who was walking alone. On Tara’s back was a pink backpack.
Being biracial, Tara was lighter than all three girls. Two long and thick braids reached her past her shoulders.
The three girls crossed the street and walked over to her.
“Hey, half-white bitch,” Julia said.
Tara stared at her.
Then, Julia said, “You think you better than us because you got good hair, don’t you?”
“No,” Tara said.
“Yes, you do.”
“No, I do not.”
“Gimme your lunch money, bitch.”
Tara took off her backpack. She reached inside and pulled out her money. Then, she gave it to Julia.
Julia snatched the money.
Tears rolled down Tara’s face.
“Aw.” Julia started. “The little half-white bitch is crying. Crying like a little baby.”
The other two girls started laughing.
Next, Julia turned and started walking away. The other girls followed her.
Later that day, Julia was sitting in Mr. Oliver’s office.
Mr. Oliver sat behind his desk.
A white man in his early forties, Mr. Oliver wore short dark hair. Also, he wore a white short-sleeved shirt.
“Julia,” he started. “What’s this I hear about you taking money from Tara Davis?”
Fury rose inside Julia. That little half-white bitch snitched on her.
“I didn’t take it,” Julia said.
“That’s not true,” Mr. Oliver said.
“It is true, Mr. Oliver.”
Then, Mr. Oliver yelled, “No, it isn’t!”
“She gave it to me, Mr. Oliver.”
Mr. Oliver’s face turned angry red.
Then, he said, “Now, why would she give you her lunch money?”
Then, she said, “I don’t know. She just did it.”
Mr. Oliver stared at Julia. Next, he shook his head.
Then, he said, “I’ll be back.”
Mr. Oliver got up and left.
Soon, he entered with Miss Braxton, a young black teacher. Because Miss Braxton was black, Julia thought things might swing in her favor. Of course, another black person would believe another black person.
“Miss Braxton, this is Julia Ashley,” Mr. Oliver said. “This morning, she took money from another student.”
“No, I didn’t,” Julia said. “That girl lying, Mr. Oliver.”
Mr. Oliver went behind his desk and pulled out a paddle.
“Stand up, Julia,” Mr. Oliver said.
Julia started crying.
“She lying, Mr. Oliver!”
Then, Mr. Oliver yelled, “I said stand up!”
Then, Miss Braxton said, “Stand up, honey.”
Julia couldn’t believe this black teacher sided with the white man. What kind of black woman was this?
Julia stood up.
“Put your hands on the desk and bend over,” Mr. Oliver said.
Julia did as told.
“Do you have any bruises?” Mr. Oliver asked.
“No,” Julia answered.
Whack! Julia felt the sting on her rump. Whack! Another sting. Whack! Another. Whack! Another.
“Now, go to your class,” Mr. Oliver said. “You bully Tara again and you’ll receive more lickings.”
“She snitched on you?” Annette asked.
The three girls were walking home.
“Yea,” Julia said. “The little heifer got me in trouble,”
Then, they saw Tara.
Just like in Mr. Oliver’s office, fury rose in Julia again. Next, she ran towards Tara.
The other girls followed her.
Then, Julia said, “You got me in trouble.”
Tara remained silent.
Julia pushed her.
“You got me in trouble,” Julia said. “And I got a paddlin’ because of you.”
Julia saw a smirk form on Tara’s face.
Then, Cassandra said, “She laughing at you, Julia.”
“She sho’nuff is,” Annette said.
Julia swung a fist across the left-side of Tara’s face.
Tara swung back and hit the left side of Julia’s face. Julia felt shocked. She couldn’t believe this little half-white bitch had the nerve to swing black.
With more raging fury, Julia began pounding and pounding on Tara. Every ounce of anger poured into her fists.
Yet, Tara held her ground and kept swinging back.
Other kids circled around the fight and cheered them one.
Julia gained the upper hand. Soon, Tara was on the ground as Julia kept pounding away.
Shonda, an eighth grader, grabbed Julia.
“That’s enough, Julia,” she said.
“Let me go,” Julia said.
“Uh-uh, you won. Let it go.”
“Turn me loose,” she said.
Then, Shonda said, “No, you won, Julia.”
Then, to Tara, Shonda said, “Go on home, Tara.”
The next morning on the way to school, Julia met up with her friends.
“Did you hear what happened this morning?” Annette said.
“No,” Julia said.
“Tara’s mama got arrested.”
“Nobody knows. Police was everywhere.”
Then, Cassandra said, “My mama said Tara’s mama and her boyfriend sell dope.”
“Aw,” Annette started. “Yo’ mama always running her mouth about other people’s business. That’s why everybody call her Channel 9. Like the news, she know everything.”
Then, Cassandra said, “Aw, at least, my mama don’t wear blonde weave.”
Then, Julia asked, “What happened to Tara?”
Then, Annette said, “Some white lady took her away in a car.”
Then, Julia said, “You know what? That’s too bad.”
“Why is that?” Annette said.
“This morning, I was going to ask Tara something.”
“Ask her what, Julia?” Cassandra said.
Julia remained silent.
Then, she said, “I was going to ask her…did she want to walk with us to school today.”
“What?!” Cassandra said.
“Yep,” Julia said.
“It’s too late now, Julia,” Annette said.
“Yep,” Julia said. “Sho’nuff is.”
With that, the three girls continued walking to school.
Photo by US Department of Agriculture.