Wednesday finally arrived. I didn’t know if anyone would show up to our club, but it was only fair for me to attend.
“What Mr. Callaway did was unacceptable,” said Ms. Palmer, lining up the chairs.
I was lining up the chairs on my side of the room. “I agree; it was very cruel, disgusting, and disrespectful on so many levels.” One of the chair’s legs was unstable, so I put it in the corner. “I knew he had something against me, but I did not think it was towards all mixed people.” I continued, “I think it is sad that people’s mindsets are the reason why there is so much hate in the world.” I scooted a chair up to make sure it was in the right place, “It is as if people have an illness. Their mind has a disease that has spread uncontrollably. The deadly disease is called racism, and the cure is a combination of love and respect for others.”
Ms. Palmer smiled and said softly, “Words from a poet.” Her facial expression quickly changed, “I knew my skin color was an issue with Mr. Callaway because every time I used to say good morning, he would never respond.” She paused for a second, “You know, I’ve been a teacher here for ten years, and I have seen a pattern that never changes. Either there are some white students or white teachers who hate blacks, or some black students or black teachers who hate whites. There are a select few who are the best of friends with a different race.” She looked out the window, “However, things have changed for the better somewhat, because for the past years, there have been more biracial students in our school, and it has made it a tad bit easier for everyone to get along. Many biracial families get along with both races. However, some biracial families have an issue with blacks and whites because of how their children are treated. It is sad when you think about it.”
I nodded my head, and I had to ask Ms. Palmer a question. “You are biracial. Have you ever been called names or treated any differently? If so, how did that make you feel?”
Before she could even answer the question, three people walked through the door. A girl with blond hair and another girl who had her hair in a bun and her glasses were the cutest pinkish color I’d ever seen. The guy behind them was on his phone and told whoever he was talking to that he would call them back. He had long hair, and his eyes were a pretty light green color. “You all can take a seat,” I told them as I pointed to the chairs Ms. Palmer and I had lined up neatly.
Shortly after, another person arrived, and I was happy to know people showed up. Last week, I threw the flyers in the trash because I lost hope after people’s comments and figured nobody would show up.
I introduced myself, and Ms. Palmer introduced herself as well. Right after we introduced ourselves, Stephen and Stephine arrived.
Stephine whispered in my ear, “I apologize. I know we are late but, my car wouldn’t start.”
I nodded my head and smiled, “That is okay. I knew you two would be here.”
Both Stephine and Stephen quickly introduce themselves as well.
I took the floor, “Welcome to Nobody Gets to Pick My Race For Me Club. Once again, I am Stella.” I touched my chest, “I am so happy you all decided to join us. This club is for everyone who chooses to join.” I took a couple of steps forward and made eye contact with everyone individually. “We are here to confide in each other because, at times, we as biracial students feel left out and alone. This club is meant for everyone to feel safe, uplift each other, and to know none of us are alone.”
Ms. Palmer started the meeting. Her smile lit up the room, “Stella asked me an important question which I would like to answer for everyone to hear.” She reached for my hand and held my hand in hers. “Stella asked me, had I ever been called names or treated any differently? If so, how did it make me feel?” Tears were entangled in her eyelashes, “Yes, I’ve been called all kinds of names, except for the child of God.” Tears trailed down her rosy cheeks as she softly said, “When I was young, I never fit into a group. I was always excluded from everything and everyone. I tried joining different clubs, but I was never accepted. Back in my day, people were very fond of sending notes. We didn’t have cell phones. I once recall a note that I will never forget; it said, ‘“You are a white negro. That means you are a nigger, and niggers and white negros are not welcome in our club.”’ Tears trickled down her face. She touched her heart, “My apology, that note still hurts.” Her lips trembled, “I was told at such a young age by one of my teachers that I wasn’t human and that I was unwanted by society because I am biracial.” She pulled her straight hair behind her ears, “My mother is white, and my father is black.” She closed her eyes, “I was told so many times that I had to choose my race. I had to choose to be either white or black.” She opened her eyes, “I used to ask my so-called friends, why do I have to choose a color? Why do I have to deny a part of my family? Why do I have to deny a part of me? Their answer was — because I cannot be both.” I passed Ms. Palmer some tissue. She wiped her face, “I struggled with my color for a long time until one day I told myself I am not like everyone else — I am one of a kind, and I will not let anyone make me feel less than human.”
I walked over to hug Ms. Palmer.
She looked at everyone with dry red eyes and cleared her throat, “I apologized for crying. It still hurts.” She looked down and shook her head, “Until this day, I do not understand why people would rather hate than love.”
The girl with long straight-bone blonde hair stood up. She crossed her legs. She was nervous. She brushed her hair out of her face and waved quickly at everyone. “Hi. My name is Bailey. I am fourteen. I am a student here, and I am a ninth-grader. My friends Chelsea, Aiden, and I found your flyer on the community board on the Beltline.”
Her ocean-blue eyes quickly filled with tears, but they did not fall. “I have a white father, and my mother is mixed with black and white. I take after my father’s side because I look just like my grandmother.” She looked at Ms. Palmer, “Now more than ever, hate is real. My parents and I never stayed in one place long enough to call home. I was always teased, and I had to put up a fight at every new school I attended. I was jumped and beaten up really badly in middle school because I am biracial. Once again, we moved — this time to the state of California. So far, I haven’t had any issues.” She shrugged her shoulders, “I guess because I only make friends with the mixed kids. I was also told to pick a race. One day when I got off the school bus, there was a black girl who made an assumption about my identity. She was very hostile towards me and told me that I did not belong in her community. She yelled and made a scene for everyone to see.”
Bailey looked down at her fingers and put her French manicured nails under her turquoise jacket. She continued, “The girl pulled raw eggs from her lunch box and threw them in my face and all over my body. As she threw the raw smelly eggs, she laughed and said, “You cannot white pass here. Then, some other kids got off the bus and threw inked-filled balloons at me. I started to run, but they pushed me and pinned me down. They thought it was funny as they yelled, “You want to be black so bad, now you can say you are black with your wannabe black and white-passing ass.” Tears filled her eyes, but once again, they did not fall. “I didn’t know which was worse, getting jumped or having raw eggs and inked-filled balloons thrown at me. However, that day changed my life. I smelled like rotten eggs for days, and the ink did not easily wash off my skin or hair.” She fidgeted with her fingers. “Before we moved to another county, my mom transferred me to another school. This time there were more whites than blacks. I made more white friends than blacks because I knew that the black kids wouldn’t like me … but that took a turn for the worse. When my white friends found out that I had a black mother, they told me they thought I wasn’t pure. I didn’t know what they meant by that.”
Bailey put her hands in the air. “Pure? What is that? What does pure mean? One of the girls said that she thought I was white. The other girl said, yeah, I looked white, and all of them said they wouldn’t even know that I was black. Needless to say, they didn’t want to talk or hang around me again. After all, I’ve been through, I decided never to trust anyone ever again. I was never good enough to be around blacks or whites. It was like I couldn’t win. I was tortured and traumatized because I am biracial. I made a vow that I will only have mixed friends because I knew they knew exactly what I was and what I am going through.” She uncrossed her legs and took a seat.
I was going to say something, but a dude with a long ponytail stood up. “Hi, my name is Aiden. I am a student here, and I am in the 9th grade. I have a black mom and a white father as well. My mother died from cancer when I was three years old.” With sad eyes, “She was a beautiful lady. I talk to my mother’s side of the family, and we all have a great relationship. It is hard being mixed. Just the other day, I went out with my cousins on my mom’s side, and one of their friends told me redbone isn’t in style anymore and that the girls like dark chocolate boys now. I was taken aback, but I shouldn’t have been because my cousin friends were always making racist comments. I do not know how many times I heard, ‘Since I was brought up by my dad, that means I am white.’” He walked up to the front of the room. “I have a question to ask. I do not know if it is just me, but when I try to talk to my dad about what is going on, he never really wants to talk about it.” He put up his hand halfway, “Well, he talks about it, but I think he half-ass talks about race. It is like he doesn’t want to talk about race. I do not know if he is uncomfortable or …” He held his head down and whispered to himself, but loud enough for everyone to hear, “I can’t believe I am about to say this, but here it goes. Is it that white people do not like to talk about race?”
A girl with blue eyes, dark skin, and silky hair raised her hand, “Hi everyone. My name is Abigail. I am 15 years old. I am a student here, and I am in the 10th grade. I have a white mom. My father is mix with black and Indian.” She looked over at Aiden, “You are not alone. My mom does not like talking about race either.” She shrugged her shoulders, “I mean, she gets upset about what happens, but she does not talk about race. My father is the one who talks about race in our home. Sometimes, I think my mom feels like she is guilty or something because she is always apologizing. I do not understand why because it is not her fault.”
Aiden mumbled and shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. Maybe white people do not like talking about race. However, I wish my dad would talk about it more because my world is totally different from his.”
Time passed, and we had to wrap up our meeting. Chelsea, the young girl with the pink glasses, raised her hand. “I like your shirt, Stella.”
I looked down at my hoodie and read it because I totally forgot the message on the front. It says, How Much Better Can Life Get Than This? Oh, So Much Better! I smiled and said, “Oh, thank you!” I clapped my hands, “I think we should give everyone a round of applause for being brave to share their story. And before we leave, everyone repeat after me, “How much better can life get than this? Oh, so much better!”
We applauded everyone, and everyone repeated after me, and at the same time, we all said loudly with so much joy, “How much better can life get than this? Oh, so much better!”