history lesson-


Doin' It
by Selena Ulrich

It was my Civics class that did it.

"To conclude, the world ain't changed a whole lot since 1965, no matter what folk on TV want to tell us, because despite Dr King, Susan B. Anthony, and all that other stuff, it still ain't seen as right if you're a girl and you stand up to be counted. Especially if you're black."

I got a D for that little suggestion, but I didn't mind. The point was still made and after that, nothing was ever the same, 'cause the more I thought about it, the more it fit. Nobody wanted me around back then; I was just another po' lil' kid from the edge of Harlem who just got lucky when the schooling zones changed and ended up somewhere that offered a little more hope than I deserved. To the kids in school I was trouble - all mouth and ideas and saying things they weren't comfortable with hearing, despite their supposed 'ethnic diversity'. To the brothers, I was 'too' - too young, too lucky, too much of a girl to make them feel comfortable when they stood up and spouted their Malcolm-X-wannabe bullshit while barely giving me a second glance. But still I was there, in their faces, in their classes, trying to make myself heard. And if they didn't listen to my words, well, sometimes I found my fists did the talking.

And that just freaked them out even more.

It would've ended badly, I know, if he hadn't appeared. I remember the first time; him standing there on my mama's doorstep, a brother in tweed with a clipped English accent and not a bit of soul left. But he sure could fight, 'cause when he refused my advice, he blocked at least three of my punches and took another two without even flinching. I still laid him out cold though - nearly everybody's got a glass jaw when it comes to my strength. But he was back that night, and the next, and the next, and I think I'd've ended up sending him to the hospital if that damn bloodsucker hadn't chosen to attack.

He handled it well. I didn't. Lost my cool the moment it dusted, broke down on the spot; became this giant blubbering wreck that I promised myself I'd never let show in public. But he was cool with that too. Took me somewhere safe. Bought me a hot dog. Told me what the dreams meant, and didn't even blink when I told him how crazy it sounded. Next night he took me downtown and made me face a couple down a dark alley. Night after that, it was an expensive restaurant near Time Square. Night after that it was a whole damn nest in gang territory. And each time, it got a little easier. Each time, made a little more sense. And with each kill, he told me more about my past, the job, everything. And he did it like I was an equal.

So now here I am, the Chosen One. Champion of the weak, defender of the world, and to hear him say it you might almost think it all meant something. But that's not what keeps me going. It's the freedom. The fact that with every kill and every slay, I'm making a difference and proving them wrong. Taking a stance. Showing the world that this little black girl can stand with the best of them.

And there ain't nothing or nobody that can ever change that.