Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lessons from the Schoolyard

Elementary school was
me always in trouble
doing and saying the wrong things
getting blamed for some other kid’s discretions
3rd grade
in line at recess
waiting for the gymnast bars
next to the jungle gym
Raymond, the only boy
struggling to lift himself up
as the other girls
laughed, pointed, and mocked
and maybe it’s a false memory
but I’m pretty sure
I stood by silently
and when Raymond finished with those bars
he bolted towards me
and I took off
dashing across the grassy field
the sound of his grunts and footsteps
close behind me
so I gave up
covered my head in defense
and stopped
but Raymond kept running
smacked his head right into me
collapsed on the ground
his thick brown plastic glasses
lay by his side
in two pieces

When I was pulled into the Principal's’ office
I knew before I even spoke
my sentence had been determined
“Now Jamie, Raymond is going to speak first, while you listen.”
insulted by the directions
as if I didn’t know how to have a conversation
And when it was my turn to speak
no one listened
it was like my side of the story was never spoken
assumed guilty
but I knew I was innocent
“Now you’ll want to tell your parents before we call them”
“two days in the planning room for you to reflect on your actions”
And no one ever called my house
because they called the wrong parents
my aunt and uncle got the message
and when my uncle told my dad
he laughed and said,
“I bet that boy’s dad is real upset,
he got beat up by a girl,
how pathetic”

And in the planning room when I described what happened
I was told I couldn’t leave until I admitted
to punching that boy on purpose
so I erased my original statement
a plea of innocence
and fear and accidental violence
was rescinded
and I falsely submitted
guilty words
composed in lies
because I was too young
for adults to think this little 10 year old
was capable of being honest.
Elementary school
This young girl’s first exposure
To the unjust system
Of guilty until proven innocent.

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