Sooo. Yea. One reason I don’t like saying what I am going to do is because I end up not doing it (don’t ever say what you will do. Bad idea.) So, when I said Chapter 3 of The Men with Blue Eyes was coming this week I did not anticipate not finishing it. But yea, it’s not finished. So, this week I am sharing a Chapter from my novella “Beyond the Colored Line” (2015) instead. Enjoy.
September 4, 1923
Margaret and Josephine had their hands on their hips again, Josephine taking the lead role as always. The wind felt soft against their skin and swayed the handmade dresses in all directions, hovering well below her long, skinny legs.
Her pony tails were twists that never really wanted to stay together. Stella got lost for a minute. Slightly envious. She wished her hair was as thick as Josephine’s. But instead hers could never keep a braid. School had just started at Crestwood Elementary of Belvedere City, just south of Boone County Illinois and already Stella could see this would not be a good year. Same as always.
“I’m not white; I’m Negro, same as you.”
Josephine rolled her eyes, “You look white. You sound white. I thinks you white.”
The girls laughed. Meanwhile, Stella’s blood boiled. Her hazel eyes darkened, blonde hair glistened in the sun, and the blush of anger showed quickly in the space of her cheeks and around her ears.
“You’s white ‘cause we say you’s white,” said Margaret.
“That’s right”, co-signed Josephine, “what kind of name is Stella anyway? What, you some kind of slave?”
“Naw, said Margaret, “she ain’t no slave, she massa.”
Josephine turned her head toward Margaret and laughed in her ear but Margaret saw it coming from her peripheral.
“Josephine!” she yelled. But it was too late. Stella was already on top of Josephine pulling her neatly pressed hair and slamming her face into the dirt. She could hear the screams of the teachers nearby calling her name but she just couldn’t stop.
“I’m not white! I’m not white! I’m the same as you!” she yelled, hot tears streaking down her face.
Josephine was crying now as Margaret tried to peel Stella off her.
“I’m Negro the same as you!” she yelled, slamming Josephine’s face into the ground, the screams from the teachers nearing, inaudible to the anger that consumed her.
Later that Day
Judith stood by the door, tapping her foot impatiently against the hardwood floor as she burned a hole in the back of Stella’s head who sat silently on the sofa, her head down.
“You’re going to have to learn to control yourself Stella.”
“Did I ask you to say a word?” Scolded Judith, opening the door at the same time. She expected her guest and opened before she could knock. Mrs. Velma Connor, Stella’s teacher, walked in.
“Good Afternoon, I’d like to apologize again for what happened today. May I offer you some coffee?”
“Never mind that”, said Velma, “I don’t specs to be here long.”
“Well”, said Judith, “let me offer you to a seat then.”
The women walked over to the sofa. Judith sat beside Stella as Velma took the sofa across from them and cleared her throat.
“Stella seems to be having a difficult time adjusting. Her temper is far too easily tickled, if you catch my meaning.”
I do”, said Judith.
“We think perhaps she would be better off in a more comfortable environment. Somewhere more of her liking, if you catch my meaning.”
Judith straightened and looked Velma in her sparkling blue eyes, “Not exactly.”
“Well, Ms. May, the accusations from some of the children are hard to ignore.”
“Well, you know. Children will be children,” Velma laughed, “It’s just that they don’t take very well with our kind. Surely you ‘d prefer for Stella— “
“Our kind?” interrupted Judith.
“You don’t have to say anything more Mrs. Conner”, said Judith standing. The fair-skinned woman smoothed the apron hanging from her waist and walked to the door. Opening it, she turned to Stella.
“Go on upstairs so me and your teacher can talk.”
“Yes ma’am”, said Stella, hurrying up the stairs.
Velma remained seated, “Is there a problem?”
Judith smiled, “No. There’s no problem but I do want you to leave my house.”
Velma’s cheeks turned red as she stood, pointing her nose in the air and strolling toward the door. Her face cringing a scowl.
“By the way, the school has placed Stella under suspension, you understand why.”
“Oh, I do”, said Judith, “you see, defending ourselves, is what we’re taught.”
Confusion washed over Velma’s face as she stared into the green eyes of the white woman in front of her, disgusted that she would stoop so low as to lay with one of them.
“What we’re taught? I’m not sure I follow.”
“Oh yes,” said Judith, “It’s one of the first things my Negro father taught me. You know, our kind I guess.”
The pink rushed to the woman’s nose as she hurried out the door.
And that’s how things had been for us growing up. I couldn’t understand what made Mama so strong. She loved Daddy with every bone in her body but society would never have of it. Mama was Negro sure enough as she was white but Papa didn’t trust it. Being with the love of his life was just too costly for him I guess. I thought about Papa that day and all the days afterward as I stood at the top of the stairs, and watched as my mother waved goodbye to my racist teacher with a smile on her face.
This book is available now on Amazon.
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“Stella: Beyond the Colored Line is a fascinating walk through the ages–from slavery, to segregation, to the black power movement, to modern times. Through the eyes of one mixed race woman, the author touches on major events in African American history, allowing the reader to experience them in real time. The story deepens when Stella decides to live as a white woman and raise her children as whites. As her family grows and develops within a changing society, Stella and her children reveal complex perspectives and attitudes that make it clear that it doesn’t matter who your ancestors were. Nothing is just simply black or white.”
– Christa Wojo.,
Amazon Customer Review