Mama, Papa – A short story

Mama, why is my hair so wild and hard to tame?
Baby, when you get older, you’ll learn to appreciate the beauty and history of your hair and its diversity.

But mama, you’re older, how come you make your hair straight for work?
Because, mama has to earn a paycheck baby, so that you will one day be able to proudly wear your hair as is.

Mama, I was made fun of at school today for having a big nose and big lips, it made me sad.
Baby, be proud of your lips. Having big lips is a good thing in the modeling industry you know.

Does that mean I can be a model when I grow up mama?
(Ahhh, sighs mama) not quite baby, a very slender physique is almost a prerequisite as a model.

Well, I can count that out. I think I have a beautiful physique.
Indeed you do baby. As you grow older, you’ll soon find out that sometimes it can work against you to have all your meat in places where mama like to label as “the right places”.

Ooooh mama!
Why so many questions baby, go bother your father.

I will, I will, just one more question please.
Okay baby, okay, last question, what is it?

Why is my skin color so dark?
Oooh my precious child, you’re far from dark. I’ll have you know that we’re considered colored people.

Colored people, mama? But we’re black. Besides, why am I considered colored when my skin color makes me feel anything but colorful inside mama?
No more questions baby, please spare your mama. Tears flow down her eyes as she stares at her husband walking through the door.

“Papa, papa, papa, you’re home” the joyful cheering of his daughter fades in the background as he stares with concern at his wife displaying bloody red eyes.

What’s the matter? He asks his wife.
She’s starting to ask questions, she answers. He immediately understood without any further details.

Papa, papa, I’m so glad you’re home. I always get worried you won’t make it home someday.
Why wouldn’t I make it home, baby? There’s nothing to worry about.

But papa, on the news, I see men that look like you get shot and killed by the police a lot for no reason.
(Feeling a little frustrated) he answers. There’s always a good reason for the police shooting and killing them baby.

Ooooh (she comes to a realization), they’re bad people. Are all men that look like you bad people?
(With a deep sense of sadness and defeat) he answers. No baby, they are not all bad people. Bad people exist in every race.

Are you a bad person papa? You look like them.
Baby, if you’re asking me if I’m a criminal, drug dealer, hoodlum, a thug just because of my skin color then no. Papa is not a bad person, just a black person.

Oh silly me papa, I know you’re not bad, you don’t dress like them. But my brother does. He wears a hoodie a lot. I think he’s up to no good papa.
Baby, a hoodie does not equal a bad person. Your brother wears a hoodie to school, to the gym and when he goes jogging. That is all. I promise you he’s not up to no good.

With a look of sadness on their faces, mama and papa looks at one another then turn to their beautiful 7 year old daughter who seems to have more questions running through her head.

Mama, how come most people on TV don’t look like us?
Don’t be silly my child, we have a black first family in office. They look just like us.

That’s different mama, I don’t see many people like us in commercials. Does America know that we exist?
Of course America knows we exist, answers papa.

No papa, I mean, does America know that good black people like us exist?
We have a lot of doctors, lawyers, teachers, policemen, athletes, and musicians that are good people and look like us.

But, every time I turn on the news, I see people like us doing bad things.
Then baby, it’s time you turn off the TV and pick up a few history books. A few popular names to start with are books about Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Madame C J Walker and George Washington Carver.

I heard about two of them at school, they all went through a lot of struggles. I don’t want to go through their struggles mama (Sigh). Will America ever change so I don’t have to?
Oh baby, believe it or not, America has changed. We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. A couple of years ago, a man by the name of Martin Luther King Jr. made a famous speech titled, “I have a dream”.

(She giggles) That’s silly mama. Did he really have a dream?
He really had a dream baby.

Did his dream ever come true, mama?
His dream is our dream, and every waking day of our lives, we dream the same dream he once dreamt and kept on dreaming until his death. We must collectively work hard to achieve that dream. It’s not easy but it’s possible.

Last question mama, I really promise this time.
Throw it at me baby.

Why do we have black history month just for black people, doesn’t all people in America matter?
Well baby, the reason for that is the same as to why you had all those questions to begin with. Out of the 365 days of the year, we had to dedicate a small portion to our existence in America.

As you dig deeper into your history, promise mama you will never allow your heart to grow cold and spur hate into the world. Never let your history hold you back from your future victory!

And baby, as you go on in life, know this: “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

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One Comment on “Mama, Papa – A short story

  1. Pingback: A poem for me and about me | Woodlynn Sance

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