The Whipping Words

  • Chapter One: Memories

  • The Whipping Words

  • May

    I lifted my eyes from my newest book.

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  • Its mesmerizing smell was enough to keep me from putting it down.

  • A small boy in the corner of my classroom raised his grimy little hand and flung it around like a snake, flailing to and fro.

  • I nodded at him in acknowledgement and he set his hand back down on his desk full of classwork I gave him.

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    Small Boy

    β€œMiss May, when'll we learn to read like you?”

  • May

    he stammered, as his cheeks flushed a red darker than Julia Gates' prize winning apples.

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  • I tucked a blonde curl of mine behind my ear, a nervous habit I had that my mama used to rap my knuckles for when I was young.

  • Before I could respond, a sudden flood of old memories gushed into my head.

  • It started with one from when I was just a baby.

  • It wasn't vivid, nor did the memory have movement.

  • It was solely an image, an image of a black woman's arms swaddling my small white body.

  • May

    Tula was her name, at least the only name I knew her by.

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  • Never did it phase me that I had a white mama and a white papa but a black nanny.

  • To me she was a friend and a good one at that.

  • My mind flashed next to my seventh birthday, when Mama and Papa bought me a new doll.

  • I named her Little Tula and was instantly scorned for wanting my beautiful doll to be associated with a Negro.

  • At the time, my little mind was blind to the racism so heavily practiced by my parents, neighbors, and peers.

  • May

    Tula was my friend and more of a mother than the pasty, worrisome one that I had been given.

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