April 1, 2010

Lit by Chicks

To Margo, My First Grade Classmate in Chicago, 1963-64
– on the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, November 2008

by Barbara Dreier

The world changed a moment ago
It made me think of you
I wonder where you are
I wonder how you are
I knew you so long ago
When racism was a way of life
When prejudice was a daily habit
When everyone knew
White folks were better than black folks
When we were just little girls going to school

I saw you tormented
I watched in silence
I saw you alone
I was afraid to approach
I understood so little
Except adults were always strong and good:
Surely you deserved your torment
Surely I deserved my privilege
Because you were black and I was white
When we were just little girls going to school

Now we’re grown women, our schoolwork is done
The lessons etched deep in our souls
We know the pain of understanding
We know the sharp knife of unseen evil
We both have scars from the blindness
Only a thin crust covers the wounds
Still sore, and sometimes bleeding
I pray this moment helps you to heal
And makes the world a different place
For all little girls going to school

Barbara Dreier teaches music in the Shoreline School District in Washington State. She lives and writes in Seattle. She thanks the Shoreline Writing Institute and the Puget Sound Writing Project for their guidance, support and inspiration. She lives and writes in Seattle, and can be reached via e-mail.