“Crayola” by: Audrey Dingler, Adam Melchor, and Sherlita McCann
It was the first day of kindergarden class and no one knew we were supposed to raise our hands to be called on so
We sat criss-cross apple sauce on the rug shoutin out questions
When did you meet racism?
Mrs. Cohen handed everybody a connect-the-dots coloring assignment
It was a picture we traced a week ago
And now she wanted us to color it in
Sherlita traced her family with black crayon
But adam said her family would blend right in
Then she was about to color their skins brown, like dirt
That’s when I know that adam just don’t know his colors
It’s not fair
Mrs. Cohen always talks to me after naptime
She told daddy I don’t know my colors
But that’s because daddy’s not any of the colors in the box
He’s not red, he’s not green, so I colored him brown,
But Sherlita used all the brown in the box and now there’s not any crayola crayons left
Mommy says that she’s black
Why won’t sherlita just use black?
Am I supposed to raise my hand in here?
Oh, no, I better not
Sherlita will talk too much and my mom says that adam is wild
Hey…how come adam is using the brown crayon?
We’re not brown…we’re white!
Just not as white as the crayons in the box
He SHOULD be using peach
I know! I’ll just tell Mrs. Cohen that he is using the wrong color
Psst! Hey Adam! What color are you using? Are you using brown?
Sherlita won’t let me use any of the other colors
You’re using brown?
We met our friend racism at the crayola box
Did you find your color for your family portrait?
I did! I did! I did!
Racism taught me that Crayola crayons are like people wearing clothes
It’s like we all had different things under our paper-wrapped skeletons
Said black and white were never to be mixed,
And the darker the crayon the messier it got
Taught me that black and brown were the same,
Tuaght me to associate brown with dirt,
There is no mistake in teaching a child about race
The ignorance is in teaching a child
That one color is better than the other
A yale university case study shows that
The scent of a crayola crayon is one of the most recognizable scents for adults
We hold onto everything we learn as children
That everything you taught me about color is a lie
I was too little to know any better,
So I believed you
But my children will know otherwise
My children will never meet racism like this
When I teach them about color association they will not think
One color is superior to the next
When my children open up a fresh box of crayola crayons,
They will all smell the same
And the white will be no taller than the browns
The color peach will be just as beautiful as the mahogany branches that cradle it
My mommy taught me to keep my crayons inside the box
Maybe, we should keep racism there too