Today is my first day of school and I’m a little scared because I’m the only colored girl in the entire school. It’s not so bad though, because my momma packed my favorite lunch and she fixed my hair so pretty with a ribbon in my braids. My momma combed my hair with a hot comb today because it’s a special day for me. When I looked around my class, all the girls had white skin and straight hair and I was the only brown girl with puffy hair. I guess it made me a little uncomfortable because everyone was staring at me all day.”
Tuesday September, 4th
My momma fixed my hair in two ponytails today with two red ribbons for school. As she walked me to school, I told her that I didn’t want to go back because I felt different. She told me that being different was a good thing and that the other kids only stared because they were curious about my skin and hair. I didn’t feel much better but I hoped she was right. When I got to school, I watched my momma walk out of the school gate and I started to cry because I knew the white skin kids would be mean to me because I was different. It was very hot and my hair wasn’t as straight today as it was yesterday and I was ashamed that it had puffed back up so much. I tried to listen to what the teacher was saying but I couldn’t because I spent the whole day patting my hair down and trying to keep from looking into the eyes of the White girl sitting behind me. I could feel her starring but I didn’t want to look at her.”
Wednesday September 5th
My momma just got home from her job at the diner down the street and she looks so tired. She rushed to pack my lunch today but it wasn’t really what I liked. Today I prayed that she would fix my hair to look flat and straight but instead she picked it out in an afro. I cried and begged her to straighten it but she couldn’t because school started soon. I was so embarrassed by my hair and I cried all the way to school that day. When I finally got there, I was late and class started already. I walked slowly to my seat and heard the White kids giggling at my big puffy hair. I could still feel the blond girl sitting behind me staring at the back of my head then she reached out and touched my hair. I was mad and scared so I jumped out of my seat and ran out of the class all the way home. My momma was sitting in her rocking chair on the porch when she saw me running toward her in the distance. She jumped up, met me half way, and said, “Baby, what’s the matter? Why aren’t you at school?” I explained to her what happened and why I ran away. I didn’t sleep all night.”
Thursday September 6th
I begged my momma to stay home that day but she didn’t let me. As usual, she walked me to school and I reluctantly followed. She explained what had happened the day before to my teacher and she had spoken to the class. I nervously sat down in my seat with my face down in my book. Finally, the recess bell rang and I took my lunch box and sat under the big oak tree in the corner of the schoolyard. I opened my lunch box to find a tuna sandwich again. Yuck, I am sick of tuna! The blond girl whose name was Luanne walked up to me and said in a soft southern accent that she was sorry for touching my hair but she couldn’t help but touch it because it was so beautiful, like nothing she had ever seen. She said she would lean over to smell my hair sometimes because it reminded her of her grandma’s rose garden. She went on to explain that she wanted to be my friend from the first day but I seemed angry and unhappy and that the class was not laughing at me but at her because she nearly feel over her desk while smelling my hair.”
We sat down and ate lunch together that day and every day after for the next 25 years. She is the best friend I have ever had who has never judged me, has always embraced, and loved me no matter how different we are. It’s good to know after all these years my hair still reminds her or her grandma’s rose garden.