The following is an excerpt from Seana’s developing novel about African-American women attending school throughout history.
[Margaret Wright, age 12, 1919]
I go to school on my daddy’s wagon with my 7 other siblings. The wagon smells like old rat. One of the wheels comes off the wagon, so it makes a squeaking noise. OWW!! That darn ole’ wood bench hurt through my flour sack dress! I got out the wagon walkin’ like a snail. I be scratchin’ as I walk through that dirty dirty ground to the school house. The classroom’s burning like my mama’s roasting pan. The books are ripped, walls are dirty, lunch looks like regurgitated dog food. Thinking about these disadvantages makes me feel depressed. I can’t walk out of a building or on a street without being stopped by a Ku Klux Klan member. I feel frozen inside, with a hole-riddled heart.
[Angela McDonald, age 16 , 1975]
I don’t like the feeling of waking up at four in the morning to go to a school where I don’t fit in! I am a METCO student, which means I live in Boston but attend high school in Marblehead for a better education. Every morning, I get on the school bus that smells like rotten compost. As I rest my head on the shiny hard window, I look outside. The bus pulls out of Roxbury. I see run-down apartments with faded bricks and cracked windows. Stores that are going out of business. People saying profanities and children throwing snowballs against the bus windows. Then the bus gets to the freeway, which is quieter. All I see are trees. A hour later, I start to see neutral-colored houses that look like Barbie homes. I see yachts that are like the ones I see in the movies. The flowers seem tropical. My anxiety is in my head. Thinking about the racist knuckleheads that always throw rocks at me and say “Get out of my neighborhood darky!” That made me cringe. The bullying and discrimination makes me believe this is just the way life is.
[Seana Fuller, age 18, 2017]
I wake up with a smile on my face as I scroll through my Instagram feed and see my friends’ pictures. When I get to school, I open the blue double library doors and hear the chatter of students and teachers. I walk up the stairs with my head up high, smile on, and glistening on the inside like a diamond ring. I wear a strappy white blouse and tight skinny jeans. I stroll to my favorite table. The librarian greets me when I sit down. Her fair skin does not matter, her character does. A school environment means acceptance, no matter the gender, race, sexuality, religion, or culture background. Going to class is easy. When the bell rings, I make my way through the hallways with clusters of students.
Each generation is different, from socioeconomics to technology, culture, politics and social justice. Every generation has pros and cons. It’s important to analyze the history of African-American women, including their strengths, battles, resilience, inner beauty and most importantly, perception about blackness.