Third grade was not fun for me, although, it did prove some things to me early in life.
It all started one day in the playground. Small private catholic school. I was the only black girl in a class of about 20. I would go to daycare in the morning and the daycare bus would drop me off at school. The name of the daycare was "Land of Little People". One of the girls in the class saw me dropped off. She started teasing by saying I was from the "Land of the Little Monkeys". I kept telling her to stop, she kept yelling it over and over, "Land of the Little Monkeys, Land of the Little Monkeys" and spit in my face.
The bell rang, I was so angry I couldn't speak. She could run faster than me (at the time) so I couldn't catch up with her to beat her ass.
Recess comes around. Same girl went around to everyone in my class saying I was from the "Land of the Little Monkeys". We were playing kickball that day. When it came up for my turn to kick the ball, one of the boys in the class said, "You can't play with us anymore. No n-ggers allowed."
I looked at each and every one of their faces. All of them. The only person who told the boy he was wrong was another girl. Molly was her name. But, as she was the ONLY one who said anything, they told her to shut up or she couldn't play either.
I didn't say anything, I just went inside the school and sat in the lobby. I was numb. What my class didn't know was I was going through the same taunting at home. My parents moved into a house in the country which was traditionally "White Only" and we broke a color barrier on the cul-de-sac we moved into. Our neighbor was the head of the local Klan. Each and every day, my sister and I were called "tar babies", "baboons", "pick-a-ninnies" by this neighbor. Each day my Dad slept with a gun under his pillow. Every week we received hate mail. Twice in one year our house was fired bombed.
Back at school, I'm sitting in the lobby - numb. The principal walks up to me and asks why I'm not outside playing. I said, very numb, "They said they don't want to play with a n-gger so I'm in here by myself". I have never, ever, seen a man turn so red and so angry in my life. Our principal was always so meek and mild mannered and I thought he was going to spontaneously combust.
He said, "You wait right HERE" and walked outside. I continued playing in the lobby - numb.
The principal called my class inside. We all went up to our classroom. I was still so numb I didn't know what was going on. When all of us were seated, he walked into the room. The first thing I noticed was our teacher looked like she had been crying. The principal SLAMMED the door, and said, "Today, I have heard something which I NEVER THOUGHT WOULD COME FROM CHRISTIAN CHILDREN!!! NEVER!!!..." He went on talking for a long time. I don't remember all he said, I remember at some point thinking that the whole class is going to really be mad at me for saying anything. Two girls in the class started crying while he was talking. At the end of his talk, he told everyone except me to take out of piece of paper and write an apology for what they did, and turn it in to me when they were finished. I wanted to sink under my chair - I was so embarrassed!
Everyone wrote their apology letters (which I think my Mom still has to this day) and each of them SAID they were sorry, sincerely, when they came to my desk. All except for the boy who said I couldn't play. That boy has been incarcerated since high school.
I later found out that the principal called the parish priest and all of the parents to tell them what happened. The sermon at the next mass was about Christian love. I don't remember what it was about, I was still numb at the time. I do remember Father Neary having everyone come to confession and do a whole lot of Hail Mary's. :chuckle I didn't have to go to confession - I'm not catholic.
I don't know what happened to the girl that spit in my face. She transferred out of the school in 4th grade.
The one girl who tried to stand up for me... she's Molly, as in Molly Shannon. You may have seen her on Saturday Night Live. :angel2:
What did I learn from all of this? Not to hate anyone. And, that teachers, educators, parents, and even your local priest, can help in diffusing bullies.