“When I Was Younger” by Melissa Chucaralao
When I was younger, I never had to think about a world that would judge me based off my race. I was never raised to think that someday my skin could be the very thing that would urge someone to want to hurt me.
When I was younger, I never had to think about feeling unwanted because my skin wasn’t fair or being told I was a bad kid because I just “looked like one.”
When I was younger, I never thought that the sole reason for me being bullied was because of my association with my friend, Simone. She was the sweetest girl I ever met.
When I was younger, I remember sitting in the back of class when I overheard a classmate yell out to another “you f*%*ing black b*%#$” before a fight broke out. I laughed with excitement and never questioned it.
When I was younger, I didn’t always go to the salon.
My curls were ruthless, yet powerful, unapologetic, and voluptuous.
When I was younger, I was told that it was “bad and nappy hair.”
When I was younger, I would spend painful hours having my hair detangled; brushing down the very root of who I truly am before having it straightened because it was “controlled” and “civilized.”
When I was younger, I didn’t understand that I was being taught hate brought down from every stage of life.
Hate that I never had in my heart.
Hate that was forced on me.
Hate for those darker than me or who looked like me.
When I was younger, I didn’t know any better.
Melissa Chucaralao works at Local 802 as a payroll auditor.