Bullying is shitty!

bullying, Pintail Foundation, LynnAlaimalo, AigaSeries, SamoanWriters

It was an ordinary day. I had just finished a project at my elementary school and was making my way home. A bus parked at a bus stop near my walking route after school. Its streaking brakes made a loud noise when it stopped. A group of high school kids walked out. It was obvious they were trouble after witnessing the driver stepping out of his seat with his hand out. Apparently, while the kids were laughing and playing hokey-pokey on the stairs of the bus, one of them didn’t pay a bus fare. I didn’t know that the whole time I was observing what they were doing, that I would soon be laying on the floor ducking punches from them.

I continued walking home quietly. I heard their loud choohoo’s and profanities while walking behind me. I thought I was safe considering the fact that I was near home. I was nervous in a way, as I didn’t know if I was even capable of being a threat to anyone with my bright red shirt, two big books and a piece of Ikaika sand art, barely held in by the outer sacks of my Jansport backpack. Just when I turned into a spot, where I normally walked past before and after school,  a voice called out, “Wassup Blood!!”

Are you kidding me?

I didn’t look back. I tried to walk away as fast as I could. But it was too late. They caught on and the mischief obviously made me skip a step like flash across the tarmac. I caught myself in airborne, before being subdued on my hard cover books. I felt those mangled scrapes on my knees from the tarmac I had just belly surfed on. And while I thought this would be their only attempt to get my attention, it was only the beginning. After one kick towards my back, I anticipated a gap or a chance to run.

But what would that do, I thought.  They would probably run after me. Meanwhile, allow them to relish more of this madness while kicking me every time the words, Blood Killah, What set you from and Cripstahs, muttered madly out of their mouths.

I am not a gang member. Why are they doing this? Is it out of fear for themselves? Or their leader? Where in anything I wore, as a 5th grader, would trigger such madness? Those were the only words floating around in my head.

But it didn’t stop them. That memory still immobilized in my temporal lobes and preceded to trigger madness out of me in the days, weeks, months and years that followed. Even the moment they ran off after one of the girls told them all, “She gon’ tell on us, watch! She’s going to get her family on us! Let’s go man!”

When they ran off, I picked up my books and ripped the Ikaika sand art to dab the scrapes on my knee. I literally cried, while forcing my hands from pulling my nappy hair back, to hide my face from anyone nearby. For anyone to discover that I had just got my ass beat by high schoolers, was the last thing I needed. At least for the time being, as I had imagined, while I had time to fabricate a story to my family how these scabs ended up on my knees. It was impossible to lure myself into a myriad of why’s. I felt humiliated at first especially while thinking it through that not only I wasn’t a gang banging kid, I had just got beat up for a shirt recently purchased from a thrifty store.

After everything that happened that day, I still fondly remember how that story ended a few years ago. Very few years ago. I was a 5th grader when I experienced being bullied. It was my first but not the last. I never hated red so much in my life. Yet, along the way, I grew rebellious to speak up against it, even became physically confrontational with people older or bigger than me – who were so fond of picking on others.

It never occurred to me that after going through years of anger and vividly remembering details of that very day I was jumped, that I would soon become a case manager for clienteles who sought new beginnings for housing, food, clothing and financial needs. In a nutshell, I can only tell you that my heart sank  the moment it appeared to me one day that my client who was sitting before me – who was  seeking a new home at the homeless shelter  I was working at – was the same high schooler who kicked me for my thrifty red shirt .The one who pushed me and laughed when I freaked out at the blood coming out my knees. Even at my hair disgustingly all over the place. My ears were ringing in that room, I can remember. Ringing the words, “Wassup Blood!” Yet, after all the pain I felt before, none of it changed the atonement in my heart to hug and comfort. The Blood gang label they labeled me with is the blood of Christ in me that kicked her back with kindness 20 years later.