Archive of Letters and Voices • Jenny Delacruz
• November 24, 2021
When I was five years old, my family moved from our apartment in Brooklyn, NY, to our first home in Queens. I was living my best life, and I couldn’t wait for my first day at my new school. However, my excitement about my new school quickly faded at recess after I asked two girls if I could jump rope with them. They told me that they were not allowed to play with Black kids. I was stunned at first, and then, I felt hurt and confused. I thought, I’m not a color, and if I had to choose a color, I would be dark brown, not black. Although it sounds like this story happened in the 1960s, I want to clarify that it took place closer to the early 1990s.
Whether my skin was purple, green, or blue, I did not understand why my skin color would prevent us from jumping rope together. When my mother picked me up at school at the end of the day, she saw my sadness, and she started schooling me on the subject of racism. That evening, I learned for the first time about the history of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and police brutality.
If I could visit my former self, I would tell her, “You are beautiful and smart, but sadly, some people may not be able to see that, because they have a difficult time looking past your hue. There might be times when you may not be able to get a seat at the table, so you have to create a table for yourself.”
As a writer and the founder of Cobbs Creek Publishing, I created the table for myself, and then, I set it so others could have a seat at my table. As a result, I have the freedom to create therapeutic books for young children to help them cope with and understand issues like racism, classicism, and colorism. Sadly, many people refuse to even discuss these topics, and they dismiss those who do as Critical Race Theorists. Why is it easier to advocate for environmental and animal rights than for racial equity and equality? It seems that, as time passes, society creates new barriers to maintain the caste system of white supremacy in the United States.
I’ve often wondered, “What if those two girls and I had been taught the beauty of diversity and the importance of equality as early as the age of three?” Now, I work to make that vision a reality for my children’s generation. Through my writing and publishing company, I strive to reflect the beauty of diversity and the importance of equality, so kids won’t be rejected at recess because of the color of their skin.
Like Ida B. Wells, I will continue to share my truth with you through the power of my pen.
Thanks for reading,