What My Big Sister Taught Me
It was my first week living in Palmdale, California from a predominantly white city in Orange County. The smacking dry heat wasn’t the only thing that came as a surprise. In 5th grade, in this new foreign city, was the first time I shared a class with nothing but other black and brown kids. Not that I had much realizations of race relations at the time, but the sea of shades was something I found especially intriguing. I was excited to get acquainted with new classmates who looked like me.
While I interacted with my new surroundings, crunchy yellow grass and neon colored jungle gyms, I noticed a group of girls playing a couple of yards away. “You ain’t gon do nothing!” I heard one of the girls yell. I knew the screams were coming from her because her hands were clapping, and her neck was swerving with every word. An obnoxious laugh from another girl followed. I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on, but I couldn’t imagine what kind of drama could transpire in the first couple days of 5th grade.
By the following week, the bickering group of girls had become my live reality television show. The show starred Myra, Neesha, and Celeste. In one corner stood Myra, while the other corner stood Neesha and her sidekick Celeste. Neesha was the bully and the initiator. She got a rise out of harassing people even at the age of 10. She had chocolate skin, the figure of a developed sixteen-year-old, and enough mouth for the both of her sisters. Celeste was the younger, more awkward and shy sister. They wouldn’t pick on anyone unless they were both present. Celeste was too quiet to mess with anyone on her own, and Neesha needed her sister there to laugh at her jokes. Celeste was the outcast who only involved herself in drama when her sister had provoked something, or was being provoked. The recipient of the provoking was Myra. Myra had skin as rich as blackberries, chunky, tall, and was bullied for all 3 reasons. Myra was no stranger to being bullied, so her words packed just as much punch as Neesha’s did.
Once the dismissal bell rang, I searched through the crowds of children to meet my little brother so we could walk home together. He was only about 7 at the time, so he was overly excited to meet me and walk with his big sister. He admired me and somewhat followed my every move. When we walked I led the way. If I stepped off the sidewalk to walk around a group of kids, he would too. When it was time to cross a street, I was the crossing guard. He was my little duckling.
As my brother and I chatted, I noticed Myra walking on the opposite deserted side of the street with one of her friends. Everything was calm and typical, until suddenly I saw a white mini-van quickly speed beside Myra. The white van kicked up dirt and dust, and made it difficult to exactly make out what was happening. When the haze died down, a girl emerged from the side of the van and started attacking Myra. Myra was getting pushed and grabbed, her backpack was yanked off, and fists spun liked windmills. The chaos happened so fast Myra didn’t even have an opportunity to fight back. I could not believe my eyes. I had never witnessed a fight in my life, and now I was witnessing a 5th grader getting jumped! As I stared further into the reign of mayhem, I realized it was Neesha’s family who had been the culprits. But I did not even recognize the girl who was actually doing the fighting. Celeste was in the background, Neesha was smack talking, so that left their big sister. Their big sister was the one doing all the fighting, although she was years older than us and did not even attend our school. I couldn’t imagine what stories Neesha and Celeste had been telling her for her to react like that.
While I was extremely scared and shaken up by the events I had seen, I kept a cool demeanor and urged my brother to walk instead of stopping and giving these people a show. But on the inside not only was I freaking out about my own safety, but more importantly my little brother’s. A couple of blocks later, I asked my brother if anyone had been bothering him at school without seeming too obvious. He replied, “No,” innocently, and it was clear the riot that had just happened was more entertaining to him than traumatizing. “Well good…But if there is… Tell me.”
He chuckled and asked, “If there is you’re going to beat them up for me?”
“No. That’s not how we handle things.”
He simply nodded his head, listened to my instructions, and we continued on home.