I swung my legs back and forth, making the spinning playground toy spin in jerky moves. Momma had always hoped I would go to this school. When I had asked her why, she just said, “Oh, Mia, you’ll understand when you’re older.”
I was older now and I still didn’t understand.
I liked the playground very much though. It was shiny, and I could still smell how fresh the tarmac was. Momma was talking to an older woman, called Mrs. Green. She told me that she was going to be my teacher. I liked Mrs. Green. She smelled like the park. And she had smiled at me when Momma took me up to her. Adults don’t usually smile at me. They tell my Momma to hold on to me and to keep me quiet. But even Momma can’t make me do that.
I ran over to the swings and pumped my legs back and forth like Momma had taught me to last week. I went higher and higher, and eventually I was swinging higher than Momma had ever let me go. She and Mrs. Green watched and smiled at me when I started to laugh. I imagined swinging to be a lot like flying. Whenever Momma took me out to the park, I’d watch the birds.
I wanted to be just like one of them when I was older. Momma once told me that birds flew because they were free. I thought that that word was so beautiful. Free. Momma tells me about our past sometimes, sais that remembering where we come from is one of the most important things to do. She tells me that here we can be as free as the birds. She says that Harlem is for people like us, who ran from Georgia when I was a baby. My daddy was killed in Georgia, because he didn’t like the way Mr. Wheathers was treating Momma. Said that he treated her no better than swine, he did. And so Mr. Wheathers killed him, and said that he was coming for Momma and me next. I don’t remember any of this. Momma told me why I didn’t have a daddy like the rest of the kids in the neighbourhood only last week, after I was done swinging.
It makes me sad that I don’t remember my daddy. I can see how much all the boys and girls love their daddies, and it makes me miss mine, even though I don’t remember him.
Even though Momma tells me that we are, I don’t feel like a bird here. When we go into the white part of the city, people always make us feel like we’re the dogs that nobody wants to take in, and that people look at with disgust. Not everyone does of course, but some people do, and some people is enough people.
When I’m older I want to understand why Momma wants me to go to this school, and why people hate us so much. I want to be free as one of the birds, and I don’t want to be this kind of free. This kind of free isn’t free at all.