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By Ms. Jenson

About this blog: I am a language arts teacher at Crittenden Middle School and the facilitator of the CMS Panther Pen blog. I grew up in the Bay Area and I love it here. I went to school in Santa Clara, and studied literature and political science ...  (More)

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The Skin I'm In

Uploaded: Mar 29, 2013
Hello! This writing came out of an assignment for students to write about something that they feel passionately about. The perspective below is a reflection on how others can shape how we view ourselves. Enjoy, Ms. Jenson

I?ve been through a lot. If someone had warned me about what would have come after, I would have put up a fight. Moving to a different school was always hard. Imagine moving all the way across the US! Being a new kid was rather unnerving. Being a new kid from D.C. was even worse.

There were a lot of different races and cultures in my new school. If a lot of them were new to me, I was also different to them. Three quarters of my first California school was made up of Latino children; I am not Latino. I?m African American. There weren?t very many kids of my race in my new community, so that left me being the only African American in my class. I was peppered with questions like ?why does your hair look like that??, ?why does your hair feel like that??, ?why is your skin that color?? and more. I was speechless. At 7, I wasn?t prepared for those questions. It didn?t stop there.

As I got older the questions continued, and were less and less harmless. I began getting bullied, not only for my skin color but also for my height. No one even cared that the darkness of my skin comes from my Panamanian side, and not my African American. See, I was Spanish just like the rest of the kids, but I guess that they couldn?t see that through their ignorance. I began to lose myself. When people would make a racist remark I would lie and say that I wasn?t black. I regretted it every time, but it became a habit of self-defense.

For 6 years I?ve been living a life untrue to me. People say society makes the person, but that?s not true. I allowed the people who judged me to shape who I am as a whole. Now I?m the one with questions: Do I want to be the Kourtni that everyone expects, or the Kourtni I truly am? Should I continue to live this life of lies, or be true to myself?

With a Perspective, I?m Kourtni R.

Panther Pen -- The Panther Pen is a collaboration between the students, staff, and parents of Crittenden Middle School.The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Crittenden Middle School or Mountain View Whisman School District.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Diane Hernandez, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Mar 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Diane Hernandez is a registered user.

Kourtni I am so amazed that you have the guts to write this. Please be who you really are. If someone has a problem with that ,it's THEIR problem not yours. I hope you always strive to be real and never let anyone dictate how you should be. I don't know you but I already know you are a beautiful person inside and out. You'll go far in this world ...I just know it.

Posted by L Romaine Brown, a resident of another community,
on Mar 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

L Romaine Brown is a registered user.

Thank you for writing this memoir, Kourtni. I think your line "the questions continued, and were less and less harmless" is powerful understatement.
You made me think. The young people questioning you from that place -- threatened when dealing with differences. Don't you wish those school children's questions could have been to understand and know you? On an instinctive level, without thought, kids put a label on or distance themselves from those who differ.

So, I remembered being "the new kid on the block" every year of my schooling until my junior and senior year of high school. I was not much different from my peers, white bread blue collar lower middle class, but just being the outsider, the stranger taught me build up a shell -- a false self that pretended the comments didn't matter, and that I wasn't lonely.

Your journey has so much more honesty, to face and own what you allowed that low level humanoid taunting and bullying to do to you. Your writing shows the emerging answer to your question about being the real you. I hope you will continue to write your stories. Your truth.

Thanks very much.

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