All the teachers do is yell. They yell at us to tuck in our shirts, to pull up our pants. They yell at us to hurry up and get to class, to hurry up and do our work. They yell at us to line up against the wall, to sit in between the black lines painted on the bleachers. They yell at us to sit down and shut up, to stand and be quiet, to walk and stop talking, to do our work and quit making noise. They tell me I’m too loud. I’ve given up talking at this place. It’s not worth wasting my breath and getting points off. I’m a naturally outgoing and loud person. But here I’m not. No one who knows me would recognize me here. I’m quiet. I’m reserved. I hide at the back of my classes. I like to think that maybe if I never speak, I can fade into the wall behind me and disappear.
I’m ahead in my chemistry class. I find this quite hilarious because I’ve never been ahead in chemistry. In fact, I don’t think I was ever on the same speed as my class back at my school. I was always behind, yet at this school I’m ahead. So I don’t do anything. There’s nothing for me to do all class because I’m ahead. I find myself craving work. I want to learn, not watch these morons be watched like two-year-olds and learn how to do things I learned last semester. Yesterday, my assistant principal left me a note. I read it and began sobbing. It wasn’t a sad note; no, it was actually kind of funny. I cried because it reminded me of how much I miss the way things were and how badly I wish to be out of this hell. I went to the bathroom and cried for a good ten minutes out of sheer sorrow. It hurts to be here and every time I’m reminded of the reality I face, it’s like the scab is torn off the raw gaping hole in my heart and I lose control of the emotions I fight every day. This place is hurting me, not helping me. You want to help me? Bring me home.
Yesterday morning while I was waiting to be searched, I noticed a kid walking toward the door with earrings in, which isn’t allowed. The two teachers searching us began discussing how the kid was going to get in trouble, relishing in this fact. I thought I’d help the kid out and let him know his earrings were still in. I opened the door while he was still outside the building and reminded him. He thanked me and ran back to give them to his mom. I turned around and the lady who wands us down was screaming at me and poking the wand in my face. She was yelling at me and saying that I shouldn’t listen to teachers talking and help students get out of trouble and all sorts of other things. My walls barricading my tears were shattered and I began to cry. I was still sobbing as I was standing in line to be searched. I started searching for the one teacher that could help me, the only one who cared. I needed to get out of there. I found her and began walking toward her. That same lady came at me again, yelling that I needed to get in line and be searched. I told her that I had to go talk to my teacher. She yelled at me to get back in line. Through my tears, I choked out that this was important, that I had to go talk to her. She screamed at me that she didn’t care and that I would be searched and sent to the gym and that I was not to talk to her. I was beyond my breaking point and I almost considered running out of the place because I could not handle it anymore. Thank the Lord my teacher heard all the commotion and came over to me. She began to pull me aside and the lady started yelling at my teacher! She was going on about how I hadn’t been searched and how my teacher could not take me out of line. My teacher looked her square in the face and told her that I was going with her. For one second I was safe. For one instant, I was okay.
I’m going home tomorrow! They’re letting me go home! I’m so excited! I’m free! I’m free of this hell, I’m free of this prison, I’m free of this tyranny! I’m going home! But I won’t forget this place. No, I’ll remember these faces. I’ll remember every story, every insult, every command. I’ll remember it all. I’ll remember those who were kind and those who were not. I’ll remember every single injustice. And I’ll remember the one person there who was on my side. I won’t forget this. One day soon, I’ll change this place. I’ll fight for kids like me and those who are not like me. I will fight to change the broken system. I will.
I won’t forget.
Five months later:
I tell this story so that those who are unaware of what really goes on at that place become aware. I tell this story so that the teachers, the principals, and the administrators know what kids actually deal with at that place. I tell this story so that this does not happen to another kid like me. This experience has forever scarred me. I am unable to forget it. I have nightmares about it to this day. The truth needs to become known.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” —Martin Luther King Jr.