by Rashaan Ayesh

Artwork by Alexa Gaffaney

Your mom wakes you up at 7 o’clock to get ready for school. She has your outfit all laid out for you so there’s no need to stop and use your little mind so early in the morning. After you brush your teeth, get your mom to put your hair up, and grab your bag, you head on over to the big white kitchen. It’s actually a really small kitchen, but it feels big because you are a small person. The breakfast table is modest with a capacity to just seat four people. That’s how many people are in your family: you, your mom, dad, and younger brother. However, the table is just for looks. No one actually eats there together because everyone kind of does their own thing, and that’s one hundred percent acceptable for some reason. And while you sit at the table eating your breakfast sandwich, your mom asks you what you want for lunch. You end up just going for a classic hummus sandwich because why mess with a classic? And forget health, you load up the rest of your lunchbox with an assortment of candy. Everything from Hershey’s to Kinder eggs are in there. With your bright pink lunchbox in hand and messenger bag (because those are all the rage) slung over your shoulder, you become ready to tackle the war zone that is school. It’s not actually a war zone, but it feels like a battle sometimes. You’re one of the smart kids. But that’s not hard to be since you go to school in the middle of Hicksville of course. As you set foot into the school, you say hi to your music teacher that stands patrol to make sure no one does anything stupid, but you know that it’s an entirely pointless job. She compliments your outfit because your mother wouldn’t dare let you set foot outside the house if your outfit was not coordinated. God forbid that ever happens and you get to make your own decisions of pairing polka dots and stripes together. You skip along to your class feeling content because you are no longer a kindergartner. You are a first grader. You are in the big leagues now. As you make your way to your class, which is all the way at the end of the hall, you gaze into every single classroom. It’s just fun to see what everyone else is up to. You finally get to your class. It’s pretty loud for 7:40 in the morning, but then again, this is a class full of six year olds. You quickly take your backpack to your assigned cubby so that way you can join your friends and talk about things that you believe are relevant but actually don’t mean anything in retrospect. On your way over to the group, you notice everyone holding bright pink envelopes. What could that be? People seem to be giddy with excitement as they use their grubby little fingers to open them up, and very poorly attempt at reading whatever it is the contents of the envelope holds. Your feet decide that walking isn’t fast enough so you basically run over to your friends in order to find out what the pink mystery envelope is all about. They are giggling and laughing like the little schoolgirls that they are. But as you approach, their voices fall to a quick hush. With a bright smile on your face and curiosity sparkling in your eyes, you begin to inquire about the mystery envelope that has captivated everyone’s attention. The tallest girl in the group begins to answer your question. She has a huge birthmark on the side of her face. She says it’s an invitation for her birthday party that weekend. No more information is given to you. Being her friend, you ask where your invite is to this grand social event. She is looking you dead in the eye as she tells you that you are in fact not invited. There is no invitation in the stack of envelopes with your name on it. You are not invited to her grand soirée. Your ‘friend’ refuses to invite you to her party. What on earth did you do wrong? She quickly follows her abrupt exclamation that you are in fact not allowed to come to her party with an explanation. Her mommy and daddy say that no terrorist Islamic Arabics are allowed to socialize with their little princess. You break. There is no other way to explain it. You simply break. Someone is telling you right now that you are less of a being than everyone else because you are not white. Because you are not Christian. Because you are not ‘American.’ What you, a six year old, are being told right now by your supposed friend is that you are less. She, the one with the huge permanent face blemish, is telling you that you can’t go to her birthday party because of the actions of a select few. You are broken. This is a foreign, strange, adult concept being thrown into your face before class has even begun. Can six year olds even tell the differences between races? Apparently. You are confused because you look down at your clothes and then at theirs. You are all pretty much dressed the same from the same stores. Sure, your complexion borderlines olive and you have dark brown hair and eyes to accompany it. But most people mistake you as Latina instead of assuming you’re an Arab, or as her parents put it: “Arabic.” You have never shied away from who you are or where you come from, but you wish you had. You wish your parents gave you a white name. You wish you hadn’t in fact gone with the classic hummus sandwich but instead for the classic

PB and J.

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