Amazing Kids! Magazine

Whitewash

By Gabi Kamran, Age 16, California

 

On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

The walls of the classroom used to be black
but we’ve painted over them with a layer of bright
white paint and a high-gloss finish.
Not until the redecoration did we realize
how difficult it is to strip a wall of its first color.

We instruct the children to design posters with
rainbows and flowers and butterflies and
stick figure people drawn with purple red green crayon
and plaster them to the bleached walls hoping they will
distract from the splinters of black peeking out from the corners
and convert us all to solipsists and make us forget.
All the while we wonder if we should have hired a better painter.

Every so often we remind the children never to make
the same mistake as we did in painting walls black.
It makes a room dark, stuffy, impermeable to sunlight.
A very hostile environment for learning and living.
They nod their heads in passive acceptance then we avert their eyes from
the most obvious of palimpsests, the panther in the room.

But we can still see it crouching in the air with a sly smile
creeping into lesson plans and soaking into worksheet fill in the blanks
so we open the windows and hope this time it’ll be wafted out for good.
We’ve actually been meaning to ask the science teacher
if it’s possible for the chemicals in paint
to have cut through extra layers and remained in the air
for fifty plus years.