Editorial: Living Through The Quint Quarrels
By Nayirah A. Muhammad
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, victims of long-term bullying often experience low self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, a lack of assertiveness, aggression, difficulty in controlling anger, and isolation. Before I entered high school, I had encountered five separate incidences of in-school bullying. Each of these situations has demonstrated the impact of long-term bullying. It’s rare that I actually talk about my experiences with bullying. However, I do feel as if my stories need to be told to be an advocate for the voiceless. These are my stories.
My initial experience with bullying was in the second grade. Growing up, I have always been a “chubby kid.” I’m still full-figured today. Before bullying, I had always known that I was different from the other girls in my grade. They were skinny, while I was not.
One day while we were in Physical Education, one of my schoolmates always excluded me during lunch. So this particular day in PE, this schoolmate and all of the girls in the second grade, hereafter the Possé, huddled together charged toward myself, my best friend, and my cousin. For the remainder of the school year, the Possé would laugh and call me names such as “Fatty Patty”, “Pig”, and “Fat Heifer.”
Everyday after school, I would go home and sob. There were many days when I would say I was sick just so I wouldn’t hear this particular student. My dreams of skipping school came true at times. However, those dreams would quickly become nightmares. After coming back from school one day, the student said, “Oooh! Why was you out yesterday Fatty Patty? What did you do? Eat up everything in McDonald’s and wasn’t feeling well after that?” Of course, the Possé laughed hysterically.
I thought about stabbing myself one night so I could escape the horrors of 2nd grade. Instead, I never played in PE on Fridays most of the time. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it finally did. My best friend betrayed me. She pushed me on the ground and laughed at me. I felt as if no one loved me anymore. My 2nd grade bullying ended as soon as I transferred schools for the next year.
From the 3rd– 6th grades, I was never bullied. That four-year period gave me a little time to re-gain my confidence. One thing I did to re-gain my confidence was through dance. However, to make a long story short, my grandmother discouraged me from dancing. Since the 6th grade, I have secretly dealt with depression.
After I graduated from the 6th grade, I began school at a “Christian” school. I was the only African-American female in the class. My 7th grade, in my words, was a very historic year for me. When I was in the 7th grade, Barack Obama had become the first African-American and 44th U.S. President. At my school, this was a major problem. The school was founded during an era of rebellion for school integration in the 1970s; in other words, this school was seriously racist.
In the beginning of the school year, these two 8th graders in my computer literacy class somehow found out that I was born a Muslim and I was also a Democrat. Starting in September, these 8th graders began insulting me with Islamic stereotypes and threatening me because I was an Obama supporter. Whenever I got really quiet after they insulted me, one of them said, “Oh my God! Everybody stay away from her! She’s gonna shoot us up! Wait…she’s gonna plant a bomb in the gym!” the worst part about it: the teacher was present in class and smirked about it. As a result, my grades were affected. The worst torment took place after November 4,2008, when President Obama was elected. The threats and insults became so unbearable; I deeply contemplated hanging myself on numerous occasions. On Inauguration Day, my mom, who was fully aware of the situation at school, kept me home. When I got back to school, even some of my classmates began doing handgun gestures to myself and the picture of the President. A few of my classmates tried to get me suspended because I stood up for myself and the President by changing my words in their written complaints. One of the 8th graders threatened to tell the Headmaster (Principal) that I had threatened to bomb his house. Thankfully, the Headmaster believed my defense and the Headmaster never contacted my parents. My 7th grade year was the worst school year ever. When I thought that 8th grade was going to be much better, a sudden loss in the family made me transform into a monster.
From August to early November of 2009, my 8th grade year was pretty peaceful, I guess. Peace transitioned into living hell after November 10, 2009. In the evening of November 10, 2009, my favorite cousin Kevin, a Desert Storm vet, was killed as a result of a sudden posttraumatic stress disorder outburst. The ironic thing about that day was that Kevin didn’t make it to see Veteran’s Day on the next day. Of course, the story made the news later that night. Some of the details in the story were highly inaccurate, causing some people to give out false information.
Before my World History class, I asked my teacher if she could not bring up the topic because I was in a state of grief, and I couldn’t bear it. Well, my teacher not being the brightest bulb in the socket did the exact opposite of what I had requested. My teacher blatantly condemned my deceased cousin and wished that my cousin would go to hell. I was so infused with outrage; I quietly walked out of the room and burst into tears. Now, please take notice that this is the same “Christian” school I had attended for the 7th grade. That unnecessary rocket launched into something that was emotionally scarring.
The weeks following my cousin’s demise, some of the students at my school taunted me and laughed at me. It got so bad one day that I just lashed out. One guy at my school told me that, “Your cousin deserved what he got… black people and their guns.” When the guy said this to me, I was extremely offended and outraged. Without any hesitation, I turned around and verbally lashed out at the guy. After venting for 5 minutes, I had decided that I had had enough with that hypocritical school. After my 8th grade year, I had begun to see the world in a different manner.
My freshman year in high school was one of the best school years ever. I made new friends, discovered a hidden talent, and even discovered more things about myself. My sophomore year, on the other hand, was…well…let’s just say I was constantly in need of prayer. This final story of bullying began shortly after school started. While the school band held the infamous band camp, a new junior girl had transferred schools. Well, since I am a very kind and sweet soul I decided to welcome her in the school family. God gives females what is known as “female intuition”, or has the gift of true discernment. My female intuition was telling me to stay away from this particular girl as much as humanly possible. Initially, I was confused on what to do after that little internal conversation. Finally, something happened to me that have changed my life forever.
Picture it: a typical, breezy Thursday August afternoon. Sun beams nearly blind you as you are trying to concentrate on the cheesy band number that was worth about two cents. Well, the day that was made by your secret crush is shattered because of someone’s words. That happy person was me. Well, this girl was in my spot for the opening march for the halftime show. I kindly asked her if she could politely move to her rightful spot. Her response? “N*gga, get yo’ fat b**** a** out my f**kin’ way. Ho!”. My eyes immediately opened in shock. I haven’t heard anyone call me fat since the 2nd grade. After that practice, I ran to my mom’s car and burst into loud tears. After August, Pandora ’s Box of bullying was un-latched. The worst time was between October 2011 and February 2012. I was called names that would make my computer blush. She would get so low to talk about me in my face and during band class. Her treatment made my confidence level drop from a low number to at least the negatives. There were many weeks I spent thinking about suicide. I don’t remember a weekday at school where I laughed. There was no hope in me feeling pretty and valuable. I spent all of my time at home during the weekends, when most teens are partying or socializing.
After all of the hell that Cydney had given me, it was time that I returned it to her in a polite, non-physical manner. One day in March during band class, Cydney had commented that my uniform skirt looked like someone had stolen her curtain and wrapped around waist; this was my breaking point. Since the band director was not in the room, I took the advantage and successfully stood up for myself (literally!).
After her rude comment, I slowly stood up, walked towards her, and politely re-addressed the insults she had said to me earlier. For example, a common name she called me was “fat a**”. During our confrontation, I told her, “ OK Cydney. Let’s say I actually have a fat [rear end] . And since I am very aware of my unique curves, I take it as though you don’t appreciate your excuses for curves and prefer my curvaceous figure over yours. How dare you come to this Catholic institution of higher learning and disrespect one of God’s children with such degrading and outright vulgar remarks repeatedly!”. Of course, she felt very, very guilty about her actions. After Cydney’s revelation had occurred, she left the room and I was applauded.
As I have said previously, I never like to talk about my life experiences with being bullied. Some people see me as a champion for those who have been bullied in the same way I was bullied. I don’t intend on becoming a motivational speaker; but I do intend on becoming an active advocate against bullying. Some adults claim to know everything about bullying in the 21st century. Well unfortunately, the fat, punk rock star wannabe Francis isn’t stealing lunch money from their victims and flee anymore. It seems as though there is a new breed of a bully. This updated bully can make big Francis a victim himself. I hope that this story will inspire others to come out and share their stories with the world.