My neighborhood has lots of different kids in it, but they are all a little older than me. We live in a row house. Ours is the one sort of on the end with an alley in between us and the next house. It’s fun to go back and forth in the alley from the front yards, to the back driveways. Different worlds. My world is in the alley. Most of the time I play alone. But there are three kids I know.
John’s grandma takes care of me after school so we have to play together a lot. They are White. They have those cookies that look like doilies and the house is covered in doilies and all the furniture is covered in plastic. We watch tv and have snacks. He’s like 11 or something. He likes to play with his Star Wars figures and he makes me play with him. They are fun. Except, when we have pretend battles he says, “Girls can’t win Star Wars battles.” Then he takes his figures away. Sometimes he and his friend from a few blocks away throw rocks up at our kitchen window from the back alley. When I come to the window, they pull their pants down. That makes my face get all hot. I try to tell my dad but they are already gone.
Sarita lives four houses down the street. Her family is Black and they have lots of framed cloth paintings with Black people on them. She has two older sisters. Her sister Star is deaf and talks with her hands. Her oldest sister is a teenager and she has a boyfriend. At their house, Sarita and I peek through the keyhole of her sister’s bedroom door. I hear noises coming from the room. I move my eye around until I can see. The boy is lying on top. I can see his dark brown back, butt, and legs. Sarita’s sister is naked too. They are rubbing and grunting. My face is all hot again, but I don’t stop looking.
Valerie is White but I’ve never seen her house. She seems a lot older than me. She never really plays with me, but I see her on the street with the other kids. She’s very pretty with freckles and dark brown hair. She has cool clothes too. I want her to be my friend but she usually doesn’t talk to me. One day, she says, “Hi” to me and asks if she can see my house. Now my face is hot because I am so excited. I take her in the house. My mom is in the kitchen cooking. We go upstairs. She wants to see my parent’s room. We go in and I am sitting on the bed. She looks at all the stuff on my mom’s dresser. She picks up a necklace and puts it on. Then she starts to walk out. “Hey, that’s my mom’s necklace. Give it back!” I say. She says, “No!” I say, “I’m gonna tell my mom.” She takes the necklace off and throws it on the bed next to me. “Be quiet you little nigger. ” She walks down the stairs. I sit on the bed. My face is hot. I don’t know what nigger means. I don’t ask.
I don’t know what it means.