Thank You, Ruby Bridges
by Edward D.
Dear Ruby Bridges,
I stare curiously at two ripe apples. One is a golden yellow, while the other is a dark, rich red. Hesitantly, I bite into the juicy red apple. Its sweet juice tantalizes my parched throat, and I devour it quickly. Throwing its core into the trash can, I reach for the other apple. Biting into it, I realize that this one is just as tasty. Despite their different origins and skin color, they are the same on the inside, sweet and juicy.
I realized that similarity one day after school. It had been a sizzling day, and the sun’s burning rays had been merciless to anyone who did not have the sense to stay indoors. It was as if the earth was roasting on an imaginary axis, spinning around and around on top of the hungry flames of the sun. To make things worse, I spent the day fighting right on top of the black cement of my school, fighting because of racism, something hot beyond compare.
I could feel my soccer teammates congratulating me. I could hear them. Come on, run faster…almost there…ready, get set, shoot! I whirled around, missing the ball entirely. Just as I was about to begin blaming myself, I noticed the small European boy who had nonchalantly picked the soccer ball with which we were playing right off the ground. Surprised and stunned, I gave him a short, mean glance, thinking, “Why would he just stop our game like this? I was just about to break our tie with an easy goal!”
Ignoring me, he claimed that there were too many people playing with one ball. I was ready to protest, but without a pause, he continued, “Let’s see, no Indians or Arabs! Anyway, they suck at soccer!” Though that didn’t refer to me because I was Chinese, that was the final blow for many of my friends.
Noticing that most of us were ready to fight, he sprinted toward the play structure with the ball. I leapt forward, trying to grasp him before he got away, but it was no use. He had thrown the ball to a friend of his. I remember later pinning him to the dry, cracking earth, telling him that he was wrong, that he was racist. Instead of apologizing, he hollered, “No Chinese, either. They’re stupid!”
I was so enraged that I was ready to burst. How could he insult ethnic groups so freely, as if it was nothing? Did he really think that he was so superior? Inside of me, the fire was hotter than the scorching sun. Absorbed into my own angry thoughts, I barely noticed the bell ringing, signaling the end of lunch.
When I finally loped up the shaded driveway of my house, my anger had dissipated, and in its place, I found questions,—questions that had long existed in my mind but had never really been answered. “What causes racism?” I wondered. “Why would people become racist?”
Recalling what had occurred during my long day at school, I discovered potential answers. That boy might have been racist because he assumed that the other ethnic groups were not as skilled or smart as his own ethnic group. He must have been very proud of his own culture. Does that mean racism is caused by too much conceit and pride in one’s country or culture? Does that mean that people become racist when they feel superior among people of other origins?
No, that cannot be completely true. From my experience, some people are racist because they lack trust in people of other races. Still others are considered racist because they feel different and are not comfortable mixing with people of other cultures. Thinking, I slipped soundlessly into the cool interiors of my house.
During the days that followed, the European boy who had carelessly interrupted our soccer game and his friends threatened me by stealing my possessions, such as my pencil box. They wanted me to apologize for what had occurred on that torrid day and for fighting against racism. Instead of giving in to my pencil box and apologizing, I stood firm. I never got that pencil box back.
We are all human. Racism is the war of seeking the weaknesses in other races, but I will choose to discover the many magnificent wonders they hold. Let those who wish to find the differences in the many human races do so, for they have already failed. There may be many differences on the outside, but on the inside, there is no difference. We are all created equal.
Edward D., 6th grade, California