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Meeting the Beast
Kevin, on Attending First Grade in Detroit, Circa 1996

I clearly remember playing basketball in school in first grade. I was six years old. This little black boy, my same age, takes the ball from me. My sister then took the ball from him, told him it was my ball, and gave it back to me.

The most astonishing thing was, this kid points at my sister and says, “I’m gonna get you after school!”

My sister was nine.

We were walking home after school and this kid walks up with at least 15 other kids. I am not exaggerating. To this day it amazes me, that at age six, this kid had the clout to raise a mob!

There were at least fifteen, ranging from little kids like me, including people my sister’s age and ranging all the way up to teenagers.

They beat her. They did not lay a hand on me as a stood and watched. But they beat her for minutes. She fought but after a while it was just a beating. From then on I can recall that life was dominated by her getting into fights constantly with the blacks, by our family and our neighborhood feuding back and forth with the blacks, and even occasions where older boys of both races would match me up against little black kids my age and we’d have to fight. I recall looking at the other kid and him looking at me in the same way, not disliking each other, not wanting to fight, but going through the motions because we had to.

Waking Up in Indian Country: Harm City: 2015

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