Commercial Break

Last night this commercial came on TV. It was this white lady making a nice dinner for her husband. She made him some baked chicken with potatoes and gravy and some kind of greens—not collards, but they still looked real good. Everything looked so delicious, I just wanted to reach into that television and snatch a plate for myself.
He gave her a kiss and then a voice came on saying He'll love you for it and then the commercial went off.

I sat on Miss Edna's scratchy couch wondering if that man and woman really ate that food or just threw it all away.

Now Ms. Marcus wants to know why I wrote that the lady is white and I say because it's true. And Ms. Marcus says Lonnie, what does race have to do with it, forgetting that she asked us to use lots of details when we wrote. Forgetting that whole long talk she gave yesterday about the importance of description! I don't say anything back to her, just look down at my arm. It's dark brown and there's a scab by my wrist that I don't pick at if I remember not to. I look at my knuckles. They're real dark too.

Outside it's starting to rain and the way the rain comes downtap, tapping against the window—gets me to thinking. Ms. Marcus don't understand some things even though she's my favorite teacher in the world. Things like my brown, brown arm. And the white lady and man with all that good food to throw away. How if you turn on your TV, that's what you see—people with lots and lots of stuff not having to sit on scratchy couches in Miss Edna's house. And the true fact is alotta those people are white. Maybe it's that if you're white you can't see all the whiteness around you.

Jacqueline Woodson, "Commercial Break" from Locomotion. Copyright © 2003 by Jacqueline Woodson. Used by permission of G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Source: Locomotion (Puffin Books, 2003)
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