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  • Brionna Bennett

Born to be...

Note: Names were changed

“I was born to be bad. I was born to fight.”

Recess duty, the second most dreaded time of the day, following elementary school lunch. A time where social expectations are created, and if not followed, destroyed. Where outside dog-eat-dog rules outway that of societal expectations. Where there is a new alpha depending on the activity. Imagination turned into monsters chasing children, where their greatest fear is dolls with knives or ski masks and chainsaws. Screaming and laughing in unison while passing the single group of dinosaur hunters and monkey bar users. With each new bar grabbed, a new squeal of elation and fear arrived.

12:05, the end of recess for 1st through 3rd. First grade always enters first from the bottom entrance to the first floor, not to be mixed with second and third-grade politics. The two groups battle for placement at the top of the outside totem pole.

Black Girl Squad, a dance group, consisting of four black girls and one black boy. He was a dancer and, at first, their leader, Kam. 12:05 was when the social hierarchy changed. 12:05 was when the once bright sunny sky turned a solum grey. One girl, a second-grader, Reshel, decided, “No boys allowed.” Her third-grade girls followed her lead.

One third-grader pushed Kam on the back during line up, “You’re not one of us.” Another, “Are you a girl now?” This was the second week of school. Kam started to turn red, fist balling. He pushed back. Before second or third grade could enter, I took Kam in, took him to the side hallway. Tears rushed down his face. Body shaking, breath short. “Ms. Bennett, I don’t like this. This is not me. The good me. The nice me. I don’t do that. I’m not nice. I was born to be bad. I was born to fight.”

The playground prepares you for many things. Social interactions among peers and tackling your greatest foes. Becoming a superhero ready to destroy the villain before the final whistle. How to get the dirt off freshly bought shoes, so you didn’t get in trouble when you got home. However, nothing prepares a person for circumstances or expectations. Kam, in first grade, was seen as the “bad” kid. The ‘rough’ kid. The kid whose mama would come to the school and embarrass him if he acted up. He was born into this expectation.

To me, Kam was a fresh slate. He was a kid that tried. Kam was a kid who wanted to flip and dance on the playground with anyone who wanted to play. Kam wished to express, write, read. He wanted to be taken seriously.

“I was born to be bad. I was born to fight,” became Kam’s mantra, but with me, it became his drive. His drive to create, his drive not to be how others expected. His drive to be born to be something else.




Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Brionna Bennett is an African American writer born and raised in rural Virginia with a love for magic, fairies, and nature. She is the organizer of DC Creative Writing Read & Critique and a DC Writer’s Salon member. When Brionna is not writing, she is a Middle school special educator helping students with similar disabilities she struggled with growing up. She loves all things Disney, superheroes, and music. 

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