I used to sit in a classroom full of color, where everyone spoke with tongues the color of gold, copper, silver, and salt.
Back then, the teachers were our sisters, our aunts, our grandmothers.
They taught us America could be Spanish too.
Took us on field trips and taught us to visit Coney Island.
They were mothering my mother and her youthful parenting.
But I still spoke Spanish.
Then came the day where I made people feel good. Made people feel proud. I passed the ink blots and verbs and nouns. They came for me later. White hands grabbed me and speak big words at me. How good I am being
learning to forget
who I truly
In this classroom
I am learning to be “Special”. That was their word for me.
I remember not knowing english.
I remember it like I remember caramel-colored Jamal from Jamaica.
He was the most beautiful boy I had ever met.
I remember not knowing English like I remember the hot classroom that used to be the length of an olympic swimming pool.
Tall windows to the left.
A shoebox for unwanted footsteps.
Crammed and cramped because we only sat towards the front when we were “special.”
But it was hot in here and our teacher, I can’t remember her name, made us pretend to be in a tub full of ice on the days the room was too full of neglected light.
The day came where I was taken to a brightly lit room with a teacher who looked like the America I saw on t.v.
She was upset at being interrupted.
Was I going to cause her problems?
Would she have to have me moved away from her precious flock?
I raise my hand and answer her questions. I read out loud and follow directions.
In accented English but correct.
And so you bestow your white privilege and attention and care upon me.
This classroom, however, had AC.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash