Writing The Self 2: Bleached

Published by Jerico on

I sat in the room adjacent to the principal’s office that contained a round plastic table made to look as though it was wood and a few uncomfortable rolling chairs surrounding the table. The floor was carpeted, but it must have been years before my time that it was put down as the fibres were thick with dust and bleached by the sun – well one spot, in particular, was lighter than the others. The spot must have been affected by the sunlight coming from the window. The window was about the width of a coffin and the height of a bookshelf. I couldn’t stop noticing all these details – I was nervous. My third week of grade one at a new school and I’ve already been called down to the office. Many thoughts ran through my head: “What did I do wrong?”. It wasn’t long until a stranger came into the room to talk to me. I had never met her nor seen her, but she had a kind face and spoke softly to me.  

“Hi, Jerico. How are you?” she asked. 

“Worried.” I replied. 

She chuckled under her breath and told me not to worry. I learned very quickly that the school wanted me to take part in “speech” classes. I’d be taken once a week from class to the room I was in now to work on the things I say and how I say them. At first, I was confused. English was the only language I had ever known, yet I’ve been speaking incorrectly since I learned to mumble “mom”.  

I began to think of what could have possibly spurred this need for me to relearn how to speak. My mind immediately went to my skin – or rather the colour of my skin. One of the first things I heard on the playground was what made me understand I was different. “These weeds are the same colour as your skin!” I looked long and hard at the weeds. I think my teacher taught me these were dandelions. I thought the dandelion was beautiful and looked out of place in the messy cracks of the sidewalk. But I understood how the dandelion felt. A strange anomaly in a sea of others that look, sound, and think alike. 

Perhaps that’s why I have to endure these classes where I’m told the way I speak a language I’ve known for the small amount of time I’ve spent on the Earth has been incorrect. Is it so bad to be different that I have to learn to be the same as my peers? Would sitting in this room under the oppressive slit of sunlight bleach my skin like the carpet I walk on? Would I then be normal – or better, accepted? 

1 Comment

Taylor Moyse · February 23, 2021 at 6:55 pm

I love the way you ask questions at the end and truly reflect how you feel in society where you shouldn’t have to feel like that, Myself never having to deal with a problem like this, I was never aware of my skin tone being a privilege until I grew up. I understand now that young children of colour are aware that they are considered different to their caucasian counterpart. It hurts me knowing the first thing you ever heard on the playground was in relation to your skin, where as mine was along the lines of asking if I wanted to play tag. I myself was in speech class for a little bit because they believed I couldn’t talk, but I was just extremely shy. I understand how it makes you feel like you’re defective and a failure even when you know you are not.

I love the simplicity of your reflection and the detail of the dandelion comment. I could imagine myself standing on the playground and the smell of the sand and the wet grass, as well as the feeling of the hot sun on my shoulders for the 15 minute recess. The fact that it was such a harsh time for oyu and you are constantly reminded of it makes me feel you did not enjoy recess as much afterwards knowing that memory was in the back of your mind. your word choice was impeccable and really spoke to the audience.

I loved this blog post so much I went and read your other blog post and I love the way you write! Keep it up and I will be reading more of your work whenever we get our next assignment!

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