Instructor: Kate Webb
So Many Colors
Personal Essay & Memoir
So Many Colors
I remember the moment so clearly despite how many years ago it was. I spent careful minutes selecting the perfect seat to be in the optimal position to reach both the icing and the cupcakes. Finally, I found the ideal chair, near the table's end, and it was placed next to Sammy. I pondered whether it was worth sitting next to her, but decided I'd seem noble to be next to the forgotten girl. I sat on the cold, gray seat as Sammy's deep, brown eyes followed my every move. As I made eye contact, she quickly darted her stare to the other girl beside her. An hour or so went by, and I was intensely focused on creating an excellent cupcake. I piped the thick, glossy, purple icing around my moist chocolate cupcake, giving glances to the people around me. At last, satisfied with my enormous cupcake after hand-picking and placing each sprinkle, I stood up proudly and strutted my way to the display table. I delicately placed my creation on the cheap, plastic, foldable table and then made my way back to my seat. As I sat, I scanned the room as other children chattered among themselves with icing and sprinkles smeared across their faces, so I turned to Sammy and began raving about my impeccable cupcake. Suddenly, she stopped me mid-sentence, and with a sense of annoyance, she stated,
"Sorry, I'm not listening, I'm playing house right now"
"Oh…that's okay, can I play?"
"Why not?" tears forming in my eyes
"Cause you're black," she said casually turning her back on me.
It was like my world imploded, the noise surrounding me drowned out by my own perplexity. The colors around seemed to become more vivid, each so different from the next. The purple icing still smudged on the table suddenly looked like so much more. The color of royalty, deep and prosperous with a beauteous hue. I peered outside the window and observed the light blue sky, it became so brilliant. The color of freedom that has so many possibilities one's imagination overflows. I moved to the yellow sun, but it seemed brighter than usual. The color of happiness that could bring warmth to anyone's day with its optimistic shade. Then I turned and observed Sammy, with her pale white skin. White, the color of innocence and purity, meaning she must be the epitome of both. But her word for me, black.The color of loneliness and despair, like a storm arising in the dark of night, when everyone peacefully rests. I wanted the reason to be I was too yellow or short or purple or smart, but not black. Perhaps a powerful, elegant black so beautiful like other girls in my class, but not black in the way she said it. She said it as though I am pathetic and unfit to be part of her imaginary, bleached family. My mind racing, I sat, stunned silent, and took a look at my hands. My soft, veiny hand. I traced each crease in my palm, observing as the color shifted in the sunlight. I looked toward my deliciously dark chocolate cupcake and Sammy's pale, pretty vanilla cupcake, finally back to my hands again. I decided I was neither black nor white, but a warm brown tone instead.