Montclair State University CUPSI 2014 “Crayola”

“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

Not black

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

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