It is all over the news! “They can merely not be held responsible for something they don’t understand”, was one statement said by an old lady at my office. A father was struck by a truck while crossing the country in memory of his son, who committed suicide because he was bullied in school.
Being different is sometimes a very cool and popular thing, while some are just born with it others chose that path of life style. However being different can be seen as something that is not acceptable by the norm. Growing up, the word cool was something I remember as the four golden letters because everyone I knew was trying to be cool and be seen by so many. Wearing the latest designer clothes and riding a cross bicycle to school was seen as something very cool and automatically put you in the center of coolness. Not only did I not wear the latest designer clothes but I did not have a bike because my parents couldn’t afford it. On top of that I was different for just being the only black girl in school.
I made it through the first day of school, and as expected Michelle, Sandra and Jenny were all dressed up looking like the model girls from the cover of H&M’s catalog collection. Being a little over a decade old my mama would pick out my outfit for school, although my brothers were given the liberty to choose their own outfits. They say that a boy will always be mommy’s little boy while a girl will be daddy’s little girl. That saying pretty much summarized my relationship with my mama. She always told me that girls at my age back in Eritrea cook and clean for the entire family. In other words if she was ever to take me with her to visit it would be an embarrassment. Living in Scandinavia and being around Scandinavian children is the main reason to why I am not the perfect daughter, according to her. Her focus and attention always went to my brothers, it seemed as if I was just a burden.
I could possible not know what Emma was feeling other than that she wanted to feel wanted and popular too. She always came dressed nice and neat like she was going to church. At recess she would try and tag along with us to the playground, although I knew the other girls were not so fond of her. I tried to figure out what she was lacking other than her taste in clothing. Maybe her mother also picked her outfits out or maybe she just liked to wear church clothes. She looked like a typical Swedish girl; tall, skinny, blue eyes, slightly tanned skin and golden blonde hair. Yet the other girls didn’t find her cool; at least not cool enough to hang out with. During recess Emma agreed to play the tagger all the time, I couldn’t imagine how exhausting that must have been for her. However, she managed to get the attention of the other girls.
One day, Emma didn’t show up to school, and I was asked by the girls to be the tagger. I hesitated when I was asked but agreed at the end. Ten minutes later I was exhausted and didn’t feel like running around like a headless chicken at the playground anymore.
Me; Hey guys, I don’t feel like being the tagger no more.
Michelle; Why not?
Me; Because I feel exhausted, why can’t one of you be the tagger?
All of a sudden the other girls didn’t feel like playing tag no more and said;
“It’s getting too cold outside, lets just go inside and wait till class start”, said Michelle.
Michelle was the only child in her family. She had her mother, step-father, grandmother and grandfather’s full attention every day. Every morning her mother, grandmother and her two dogs would walk her to school. I would watch her as she waved them good-bye and gave her dogs kisses. She could have just walked to school by herself, since she only lived 5 blocks away. It seemed like she requested a whole entourage to take her to her own playground.
Math class was the only class time I could sit and daydream about what I would do if I had enough money to buy cool things, like a new freestyle, or a portable cd player. There was no point of paying attention in math class because my baba told my brothers and I how people in our bloodline are horrible with numbers. Therefore I didn’t see the point of even trying to learn more than being able to count my future money. Class ended a lit bit earlier this time, Mr. Kent asked me to stay after class. At that point my palms were all wet from sweat because I had no idea what I have done wrong. The only time you are in trouble is if you are asked to stay inside while your classmates were in recess.
Mr. Kent gently said; Please have a seat right here Ruket,
I was trying to look him in the face without being too obvious but I found myself starring down the floor as I slowly walked over to the chair right next to his desk. He gently closed the math books and the note book he had in front of him and pulled out a yellow folder. He looked up and smiled. The smile felt like it was an indication of “its okay you are not in trouble” but I couldn’t hold myself to keep my mouth shut out of respect, I asked him;
Me; Mr. Kent did I do something bad.
Mr. Kent; No Ruket you are not in trouble.
Before he could continue Ms. Jessica walked in the room. Ms. Jessica was Mr. Kent’s teaching assistant, she was a hip and cool lady but she had her days. There was a rumor that was going around that Mr. Kent was going to propose to her but it wouldn’t be so cool because he was twice her age. Ms. Jessica walked in and took a seat right next to me. I couldn’t help but drying my hands on my sweat pants because I didn’t want them to notice how nervous I was. In the back of my head I was thinking of all the possible things I have done in order for me to be sitting inside while my friends are out being cool.
Mr. Kent; How are you liking school?
Me; It is okay, I really like recess.
As I smiled and looked out the window to see my friends play while I was stuck inside.
Mr. Kent; Well the reason we asked you to stay in is because we have some concerns over a classmate of yours. Emma’s parents has reached out to us both and informed us that Emma has been coming home crying every day since school started this fall.
Me; Why would she cry? Emma is nice to me.
Mr. Kent; She feels as if some students are being mean to her and tease her for no reason.
My first thought was; how on earth did I miss this, why was I not part of the teasing? Was I not so cool enough to be part of the teasing group?
Mr. Kent; We would like to put a stop to this and we would like you to help us identify the students who are part of putting Emma down.
All of a sudden I became speechless. Not so much to Emma being picked on, but to why I was called in to the teacher’s office and inform him as if I was a spy. Spies are cool but not cool enough. This means that I was not seen as part of the group, just an outsider. My efforts to melt in the center of coolness has failed, I had failed.