by Natasha Vaughn

At five years old, a boy
with a mushroom cut
taught me about racism,
in another language.
“Señorita, por favor, solo hablamos en español en esta clase.”
I stared up at her, with her jet black hair
that was lying on top of her bright red shirt,
overwhelmed with cartoon apples and number two pencils.
She helped me button my coat
it sat heavier than I remembered that morning.
I hurried behind the class as we all scurried to the busses in a single final line.
I climbed aboard last and found a seat to sit in, but no one to share it with.
I stared down at the sweet caramel colored skin on the back of my hand
while I listened to a small Hispanic boy with a mushroom cut shout and
kick the back of the seat in front of him.
The clanking seatbelt and metal distracted me from the gibberish growing in
volume around me… “¡Negrita, negrita! ¡Ella no sabe nada!”
When I shoved his shoulders, his head against the windowpane triggered silence
And I finally understood.