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When the Black Kids Go Missing

by Edwige Ghembesalu (United States)

April 2021

Write the World Review

Audio: "When the Black Kids Go Missing" read by Edwige Ghembesalu

They tell us to put our hands up. Then, they ask us why we moved. Sister, that is why they shoot. Because we move.

They tell us to work harder if we wish to succeed. Then, they protest because we’ve stolen their spots. We’ve ripped them from their roots and stuffed them deep in our pockets. Then, we ran. Brother, that is why they run behind us. Because we work.

They laugh at us when we hurt, when we bruise and when we bleed. Then, when they hurt, when they bleed and bruise, their fingers tremble as they ask for us. They want help they do not have to give. They seek comfort we cannot show as we have never received it ourselves. Mother, is this why you remind me we bleed the same, but we cannot cry the same?

I still have questions, buckets and trenches and sacs I carry on my back and let slither in my veins and helplessly carry in my hands.

I am scared.

One day, I may open my door and find wreckage at my feet, waiting for my weeping and sorrow. But so far, they’ve approached me in crumbs. They tread on the padded feet of a father’s son.

As a child, it came to me when I first arrived here, an immigrant in the U.S. My classmates asked me if I ate cheetahs back home. They formed triangles with their hands and talked of tiki huts and murderous tribes. I was desperate for friendship, and so I became that child. I ate cheetahs and lived in tiki huts and took part in a murderous tribe.

It knocked on my door once more when I turned 10. But this time, it left me an envelope. And in this envelope was a single word stamped on a sheet of paper.

Look.

This is when I began to notice how few Black students there were in my accelerated classes. This is when I realized there were two types of kids in the lunchroom. The Black ones at the left or the others at the right. This is when I realized I couldn’t seem to find any Black Barbies in the store, and the only princess who looked like me was a frog for half of the movie, slimy and green and short and chubby and living in the swamps. That must mean I’m slimy and green and short and chubby and living in the swamps. This is when I realized the store clerks followed me in the corner store because I looked like a small thief, not because they wanted to help me find my sour, Trolli gummy worms. This is when I realized why Black boys don’t wear hoodies, and Black girls who go missing are never found.

I was old enough to realize all of this when I was ten. But apparently, no matter the age, the rest of the world is not prepared to look at me.

I don’t even get knocks on the door anymore. We don’t even get knocks on the door anymore. They stretched us out early like roll-ups and told us to grow up. And then they shot Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and Stephon Clark and Rayshard Brooks and Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor so we would pay attention in class. Like they don’t already have guns pointed at our heads to make sure we’re listening. Like we can choose to look away from our live-action documentary.

Like we can escape.

I say again; my back hurts, my hands are heavy, and my veins are filled with lead. I cannot lend you my eyes so you can see what I can see, but I can give you my words so you can play them on repeat. I can tell you my stories so you don’t choke on mere fiction.

I’m only asking you to listen before my sister’s name shows up on CNN and my brother’s body is found by the monkey bars at the park I used to go to as a child. We cannot bring about this change on our own.

I know my words are scattered and my thoughts run a mess. So, at least listen to my final plea.

Please, help us.

Edwige Ghembesalu, a 16-year-old high school student originally from Cameroon, lives in Takoma Park, MD, with her parents and siblings. Her love for poetry and fictional writing inspires her to voice all of what she cannot say on paper, hoping to provide others a voice in the process.

#Social Justice          #Identity

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Alefiya

5/17/22, 4:27 PM

Beautiful

Sweety

5/16/22, 11:40 AM

I am waiting with anxiety what does she doesto fight back these things which are very complicate to handle for a teenager...... I am Very anxious because I am in the same situation..... So I want to know what will she do.....

Somma

5/15/22, 3:16 PM

This is such a wonderful piece. I love it so much!

Rain Wind Thunderstorm

5/13/22, 10:46 AM

You are really good at writing. And at such a young age! If you don't mind me saying so, your writing style is warm and cozy. And also at the same time, very deep, meaningful and relatable. I especially loved the "The Reflection" part.

Sierra

5/13/22, 9:28 AM

I really wanna know what does she does to fight back these things which are hard to handle for a teenager.

Mira

5/11/22, 2:37 PM

I loved every word of this. Maybe because I am relating too hard. I hardly possess any of the love or filial piety I am expected to have towards my family. I am dubious of anything my grandmother says to me and have long learned to just swallow it all with a smile though I question how much I know. And. Just. Knowing. That you will be forgotten by your extended family for the rest of the year but still held up to their expectations. Thank you for writing this! I'll always remember a beautiful #ownvoices story :).

Srishti Roy

5/10/22, 6:57 AM

I really am curious about how she is gonna fight this situation and will she be able to fulfill her dreams which she once had

Alena

5/6/22, 2:03 PM

Ooh I really love this! What a great ending too. Fellow students, we've got this!

Alena

5/6/22, 1:53 PM

I love this piece so much. Novels and writing rarely makes me cry, but this was just too relatable.

Alena

5/6/22, 1:51 PM

This was so beautiful, and created such a detailed image in my mind!

glitterdays

5/6/22, 11:35 AM

I thought that was a truly insightful piece. As a teen writer myself, your words were a refreshing reminder of the meaning behind adolescence. Thank you for bringing your writing into the world, and hope to see more of it soon.