15605, the colored section|
Posted by Trace, Tue Feb-22-05 05:22 AM
Welcome to the Colored Section.
There are no walls here.
No walls and no need for windows and we see everything.
And there are no ancient 'For Coloreds Only' signs. No mildewed water fountains, no tattered second-hand textbooks. Our library boasts over three million hardbacked leather-spined books, all with gold leaf pressings. Mostly classics. We like to read them and then rewrite them to make them better than they were. Especially Shakespeare; he's our favorite.
We are all here.
Aunt Jemima spends most of her time with her brow wrinkled in concentration, looming over a dotted chessboard in the corner opposite Sambo, who insists on being addressed by his full name, Samuel Beauman III. "Don't you know how much history there is in that name?" he always barks. "It's too important to leave out. Besides, Sambo's a little boy. I've grown, don't call me that anymore."
He isn't always so grumpy. The grumpy one is Uncle Ben, who isn't an uncle at all. He was an only child and hates children. Rarely smiles, except when Mopsy sits at the baby grand while Topsy displays her plie for us all during brunch, or while Prissy sings for us the arias she taught Marian Anderson. Jezebel tries to cheer him, but he refuses her advances. Momentarily dejected, she tucks her Bible solemnly under her arm and later smiles, resolving to try again later.
Mammy is usually at the mirror brushing the long, sandy brown hair that reaches past her waist. We all envy her curves, thin ankles, and quick smile. We think she is the most beautiful woman here and are baffled at their choice to cast Hattie McDaniel in her role in that movie. "The nerve," she snorts at herself in the mirror, "you wouldn't even know I had a waist lookin' at that woman. That isn't me at all."
The rest of us are here, too. Jasper, Rastus. Amos, Andy, and Sapphire (they are nearly inseparable; best friends since any of us can remember). The Pickaninny Triplets (their first names are Sarah, Jane, and Mary; most people don't care to remember them, though, but we do here) and Little Nigger Jim, who could pass for white if he wanted to. Always has his nose in a book. Watching him act out Shakespeare's famed scenes is an amazing site; we love it because he always puts some of us in them.
We try to do that here a lot. Put ourselves where people have forgotten us. We are so easy to miss if people don't look for us, our stories so easily ignored and rewritten. They are plain to us because there are no walls here. No walls, no need for windows.
But gotdamn, can we ever get up past this ceiling?