It was my first day of daycare and I was excited about the idea of meeting new kids. The building was a very old school between two towns, most likely unused for years. The corridors had high ceilings, and were lined with timber. It felt to be an uninviting place.
We were pushed into what must have been the gymnasium, with walls even higher than the corridors. The walls were a drab tan. This was not a place made warm and inviting for small children, but rather the creation of an unimaginative mind, neglected for years and then put into use with little thought of the occupants.
In this large room, we were spoken to, told of what was expected of us, while our parents held our hands. I could see other children and wanted to go over and say “hello”. My mother held my hand firmly.
After the speech was barked out, our parents let us go and we children ran into the middle of the room. With smiles and arms outstretched, we gleefully greeted one another. A few were shy, but were taken up in the joy that enveloped us all.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was my first interaction with black children. I didn’t realise they were black. I just saw other smiling children. We all hugged, smiled, talked. It was a large contrast to the coldness of the environment.
After a few minutes, we were told that we would get to introduce ourselves. All became quiet. This seemed a daunting task, but we were told that we only needed to say our names. We all ran back to our parents and slowly children around the room began to say their names. It came my turn. I looked up at my mother and then said, “Gerald”. The child next to me said her name and then the next. About half-way around the room there was another “Gerald”. I was shocked and happy. I had never met someone with the same name as me! I wondered if we would be friends. It was all so exciting!
When the last child had said his name, we were told to go to our classes. I headed for the door of the gymnasium and pulled away from my mother for a moment. I walked past a teacher. She looked down at me and said, “You have the same name as a nigger!”. I didn’t know what she meant, but her tone said that this was not a good thing. I didn’t like my name again until I travelled to Germany at 22.
Oklahoma.person_outline Lee Jordan
schedule Fri, 01 May 2020 13:37:00 +1200
category blog, writing