A/N – graciegirl000, DreamingUntilForever11, I'm really glad you like this movie too. I'm having a lot of fun writing this.
The next morning, Andre glanced over and saw that Mallark had a hoodie with the hood up, hiding her face, and basically all of her skin. She was turned away from the class, so no one but Ms. G could see her face, and Ms. G wasn't paying attention to her.
Instead, Ms. G turned on a boom box, and rap started playing, making everyone looked at her.
"I have this idea. We're going to be covering poetry. Who here likes…" the next work that came out of Ms. G's mouth didn't even seem like a real word.
"It's Tupac" Jamal corrected her. This woman had no business with rap music.
"Tupac, excuse me" Ms. G allowed him to correct her. "Raise your hand"
Only about five kids raised their hands. "Really" Ms. G turned off the music, "I thought there'd be more fans. I have the lyrics of the song printed out" she said, handing out papers.
Mallark, since she was in the front of her row, was handed the papers. She kept her head down as she handed the papers to the person behind her, the deep purple marks on her wrists were exposed.
Paige looked at the guy behind her, afraid he'd say something, but he just rolled his eyes. Her shoulders slumped in relief and she turned forward again.
"I want you to listen to this phrase I have up on the board, it's an example of an internal rhyme" Ms. G explained. "What he does is very sophisticated and cool, actually"
"'Man child in the promised land couldn't afford many heroes. Moms was there only when pops was a no-show'" André quoted.
"'And Oh, I guess ya didn't know that I would grow to be so strong, lookin' kinda pale was it the ale that pops was wrong" Marcus continued.
"'Where was the money that you sent you would send me, talked on the phone and ya sounded so friendly'" Jamal finished.
"Like we don't know Tupac" André said.
"White girl gonna teach us about rap?" Marcus said.
"'Ask about school and my welfare, but it's clear, you ain't sincere, hey who the hell cares, You think I'm blind but this time I see ya comin Jack, You grabbed your coat leathers broke, now ain't no runnin back'"
Everyone looked over to the corner, where Mallark stood, reciting the lyrics as if they were her own. She pushed her hood back, showing red marks around her face, deep bags under her eyes, and bruises peeking out beneath the high collar of her shirt, meaning she had been choked.
"Yeah, I'm white. Doesn't mean you know shit about me" she spat. Ms. G put a hand on her shoulder, but she flinched hard, and Ms. G quickly removed her hand. Mallark dropped back into the seat hard and put her hood back up.
Ms. G was smiling, though it was slightly uneasy now. "See, what I was trying to do, was" but Ms. G was cut off again.
"You have no idea what you're doing up there, do you?" Eva asked her. The class 'ooh'ed. "You ever been a teacher before?"
"Ooh, she just got nailed" Jamal cheered, high fiving his friends around him.
"Alright Jamal" Ms. G said, but it was too loud, and he was ignoring her. "Jamal, enough!" everyone went silent and Jamal turned to look at her. Ms. G was no longer smiling.
"You know, I want you to move to this front seat here, right now" she said, pointing to the seat in front of her, where Ben was sitting.
"Come on" she insisted.
Jamal sat in his own seat. "I am sick of these antics in my classroom" Ms. G said, her voice steady but her face angry.
Jamal smirked. "Well there you are. I was wondering when you would lose that damn smile."
"Switch with Ben. Come on" Ms. G insisted. "I can't go back there alone" ben told her quietly, afraid. "You'll be fine" Ms. G insisted, clueless.
"No, it won't" Bed told her.
"I'm not sitting near him" Sindy told Ms. G.
"Then why don't you sit back here" Jamal suggested, but Sindy was pissed. "I'm not sitting back there, alone" she said, standing.
"Shut up" Jamal told her. Sindy's pack stood, as did Jamal, just itching for a fight.
"Alright, you know what? I want you all," she said, gesturing to the people next to the windows," to move to this side of the room" she gestured towards the opposite wall. "You in the back, up here, Sindy and all of you, move to the back"
Everyone got up and moved where she told them. It wasn't without tense gestures and mocking words and a few refused to move. Which is how Mallark ended up next to Andre.
"Everyone happy with the new borders?" Ms. G asked sarcastically.
As class went on, people skipped, left in the middle of class, and started fights. Ms. G had no control over her class.
Andre watched Mallark. She didn't speak up much anymore, and everybody left her alone. She was white, what did she know?
But he saw the bruises, the cuts, and the scars. He noticed how she flinched when she heard certain sounds, or when things got too loud.
In turn, Paige was noticing Andre. He was a loner, not really park of the pack. He was smart, but didn't show it. He was just playing it cool, not usually drawing attention to himself. He easily switched between fighting with Jamal and fighting against Jamal.
They didn't talk, not usually. But they had a truce. He didn't bother her, and she didn't bother him. She usually finished early, and he watched as she pulled out what seemed like a different book every day.
But that old, battered book he'd seen her with that day at the beginning of school appeared again and again in her hand.
Paige hurried home, stopping at Ms. Ray's to pick up Madison. Madison smiled at her and instantly reached for Paige. Ms. Ray gave Paige a sympathetic smile as she handed the baby over.
"Thank you. For watching her" Paige thanked her quietly. Ms. Ray nodded. "She's a sweet baby. Very pretty. Just like her mother" Paige smiled softly at Madison.
"Hopefully she'll get to grow up better" Paige said before heading home.
She crept inside quietly, trying not to wake her father, who was sitting, passed out, in front of the TV, beer bottles littering the floor. Paige put Madison in her room and turned on some soft music to keep her quiet. She went back to the front room and cleaned up.
When Paige went to sleep, trying not to think about the shouting and the pain, she looked at Madison. That Perfect little girl.
That morning in class, Ms. G wrote a couple phrases on the board that were grammatically incorrect. Paige ignored the sniggering of her classmates as they passed around a note.
"Ms. G finished writing and turned to the class. "Yes?" she looked at a guy in the back who had raised his hand, but he shook his head; he was only stretching.
"Alright. Umm… Gloria, please read the first sentence on the board" Ms. G said to her.
"Why me?" Gloria asked, as if she had been asked to do something completely disgusting.
"Because I know how much you love to read. Close the magazine" Gloria looked pissed, but at least Ms. G had some control over her classroom now, if only a little.
"'Odysseus didn't have no sense of direction?'" Gloria read quickly. Ms. G nodded. "Now, none of these sentences are correct. I'd like you to rewrite these sentences using proper tenses and spelling on page four of your workbook" Ms. G directed.
Everyone watched as Jamal opened the note eagerly, only for his smile to fade. She shrunk down into his seat and slowly put his hat on.
Paige had a feeling she knew what they had written or drawn. It sickened her.
"What's going on?" Ms. G asked, noticing Jamal's devastated look, and the snickering of almost everyone.
"What is that? Give it to me" she took the paper away from Jamal. Most of the kids were still laughing, but Ms. G looked absolutely pissed.
"What is this?" she asked, furious.
"Just leave it alone" Jamal told her, his voice strong. Paige looked at him sadly. He had earned some of her respect just y that small fact alone.
"You think this is funny?" Ms. G demanded as she stepped over to where the note had started. "Tito. Would this be funny if it were a picture of you?"
"It ain't" he said stupidly. Ms. G was silent for a moment, before walking back to the center of the room and ordering firmly, "Close the workbooks."
Everyone shut their books, wondering what she was going to do now.
"Maybe we should talk about art. Tito's got real talent, don't you think?" Ms. G said. Everyone laughed and agreed happily.
"You know something? I saw a picture just like this once, in a museum. Only it wasn't a black man, it was a Jewish man. And instead of the big lips he had a really big nose, like a rat's nose.
"But he wasn't just one particular Jewish man. This was a drawing of all Jews. And these drawings were put in the newspapers by the most famous gang in history" the idiots laughed and cheered, as if that was cool.
"You think you know all about gangs? You're amateurs. This gang will put you all to shame.
"And they started out poor and angry and everybody looked down on them. Until one man decided to give them some pride, an identity, and somebody to blame.
"You take over neighborhoods? That's nothing compared to them. They took over countries. You want to know how? They just wiped out everybody else." Everyone nodded and agreed, like 'that's how it should be done'.
"Yeah, they wiped out everybody they didn't like and everybody they blamed for their life being hard. And one of the ways they did it was by doing this: see, they print pictures like this in the newspapers, Jewish people with big, long noses... blacks with big, fat lips.
"They'd also published scientific evidence that proved that Jews and blacks were the lowest form of human species. Jews and blacks were more like animals.
"And because they were just like animals it didn't matter if they lived or died. In fact, life would be a whole lot better if they were all dead.
"That's how a holocaust happens. And that's what you all think of each other" Ms. G said. That last comment was a little too far.
"You don't know nothing, home girl" Marcus yelled, but Ms. G yelled right back. "No, I don't Marcus, so why don't you explain it to me?"
"I ain't explainin' it to you" Marcus told her, and everyone in class was making noise, making Paige flinch. Her shoulders slumped when she saw the tears in Jamal's eyes.
"Alright, alright, alright!" Ms. G called, getting everyone quiet again. "So, what you're saying is, if the Latinos weren't here, or the Cambodians or the blacks or the whites or whoever 'they' are, if they weren't here, everything would be better for you. Isn't that right?"
Everyone agreed readily. Ms. G nodded. "Right. It starts with a drawing like this. And then some kid dies in a drive-by, never even knowing what hit him"
"You don't know nothing" Eva snapped at her, pissed. She sat up. "You don't know the pain we feel. You don't know what we gotta do. You got no respect for how we live. You got us in here, teaching us this grammar stuff. And then we gotta out there again, and what are you telling me about that, huh? What are you doing in here that makes one bit of difference in my life?"
"You don't feel respected. Is that what you're saying, Eva?" Ms. G asked, her voice void of emotion. "Well, maybe you're not. But to get respect, you have to give it"
"That's bull" Andre spoke up.
"What?" Ms. G actually sounded offended. Paige snorted.
"Why should I give you my respect to you? Because you're a teacher? I don't know you. How do I know you're not a liar standing up there. How do I know you're not a bad person standing up there? I'm not just gonna give you my respect because you're called a teacher." Andre told her.
"White people are always wanting their respect, like they deserve it for free." Eva hissed.
"I'm a teacher" Ms. G said. "It doesn't matter what color I am"
"It's all about color. It's about people deciding what you deserve, about people wanting what they don't deserve. About whites thinking they own this world no matter what. You see, I hate white people" Eva told her.
"You hate me?" Ms. G asked.
"You don't even know me" Ms. G said.
"I know what you can do. I saw white cops shoot my friend in the back for reaching into his pocket, his pocket! I saw white cops break into my house and take my father away for no REASON except they feel like it! Except because they can! And they can, because they're white. So I HATE white people on sight!" Eva was crying.
"Ben, do you have anything to say?" Ms. G asked. Why was she singling him out?
"Can I please get out of here?" he asked, his voice shaking slightly.
"Lady, stop acting like you're trying to understand out situation" Marcus demanded. "You're just doing you little babysittin' up there"
"That's all you think this is?" Ms. G asked.
"It ain't nothing else!" Marcus told her. "When I look out in the world I don't see nobody that looks like me with their pockets full unless they're rapping a lyric or dibbling a ball. So what else you got in here for me?"
"And what if you can't wrap a lyric or dribble a ball?" Ms. G demanded.
"It ain't this" Andre told her, looking at er for a moment before meeting Paige's eyes. "I know that much"
"Damn right" Marcus agreed.
"And you all think you're going to make it to graduation like this?" Ms. G asked.
"I made it to high school, ain't nobody stop me!" Andre shouted.
"Lady, I'm lucky if I make it to eighteen! We're in a war. We're graduation every day we live because ain't afraid to die, protecting our own. At least when you die for your own, you die with respect. You die a warrior" Marcus yelled.
"So when you're dead, you'll get respect. Is that what you think?" Ms. G asked. Everyone agreed.
"You know what's gonna happen when you die? You're gonna rot in the ground. And people are gonna go on living. They're gonna forget all about you. And when you rot, do you think it's gonna matter if you were an original gangster? You're dead. And nobody, nobody, is gonna want to remember you because all you left behind in this world is this" she held up that damn drawing again.
Everyone was silent. Then, slowly, that kid that stretched raised his hand. Ms. G smiled. "You're raising your hand?" she asked in disbelief.
"That thing that you said before, "he said, putting his hand down, "The Halocost?"
"Holocaust, yes" Ms. G nodded.
"What is that?" he asked gently, no disrespectful tone in his voice at all.
Ms. G looked saddened by the students ignorance. "Raise your hand if you know what the Holocaust is" she instructed. No one raised their hands, not even Mallark, at first. Then Ben and Paige slowly raised their hands.
"Raise your hand if anyone in this classroom has ever been shot at" everyone's hand went up, and Ben's fell, but Paige's hand stayed high in the air. Andre looked at her in surprise. White girl got shot at?
It was a truly saddening sight, to see all those hands.