A Bronx Masquerade Narrative: Pierre
By Anaya Vivian Pinney
You can do this. I thought to myself as I counted down how many steps until I made it to my new homeroom. Just act normal. No one will even notice you.
Of course, I was proven wrong. As I made my way to the back of the class, a couple of kids looked up and stared right at me. But they weren't looking at me. They were staring at my face. Specifically, it was the blotches of white that intruded the dark of my skin. I tried to ignore them and plopped into my assigned seat.
When I was nine, I developed a disease that made me this way. Vitiligo was what the doctor called it. She said that it was rare, and only about a fraction of people in the U.S. had it. I guess, at the time, she was trying to make me feel special. Well, that backfired. All it did was make me feel more isolated every time I thought about it. When I cried about it, my mom reassured me I wasn't going to die from it. My dad told me it was okay to be different. They were both wrong about what was really hurting me so much at the time about having this disease. It was my identity I didn't want to lose.
My grandma used to say that when she was my age, having dark skin was the worst thing that happened to a person. Even after segregation was defeated, she hated her skin. It took her a while to think otherwise. She would tell me how much she never wanted me to feel that way. She was open to me about this vulnerable and sensitive part of her past and her identity. She inspired me to see the best of me after she had felt the worst about herself. I never wanted to think that way about myself either. I was more than just my skin color. However, I did have black skin and I was proud of it.
And then this happened. I felt like what my grandma had to learn to be proud of was being chipped away from me. I couldn't stand to think of that. So, when the patches of white appeared on my hands, I wore gloves. When they appeared on my arms, I wore long sleeves. But they kept appearing, creeping up my body until it reached my face. As if, the universe was to say, "This is you now," and laughed at the irony.
My teacher assigned something for me. Apparently, the rest of the students already were doing it before I moved to this school. Something about a poetry slam? Something like that.
I am not whole.
For I was once whole when I was young,
My shell that completed me, the shell that my legacy worked up
To get rid of the shame that once bound my ancestors
Is now being stripped away from me, slowly,
In tiny flakes.