“AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL

Dear Mr. Schneider,
I attended your elementary
School almost thirty years ago
And I’m very sure that
You will remember
Me.

My name is Suzy.
I’m that hyperactive girl
From the Egyptian family
Who used to always play dead
On the playground during
Recess.

You used to keep me
After school a lot,
And then my father would
Force me to make the long
Walk home in the cold or rain.
Sometimes I would arrive
After dark.

I’m writing to tell you
That I was bored as a kid.
I was bored by your curriculum
And the way I was always taught a
Bunch of useless
Junk.

I did not like being locked up
In a prison of scheduled time
Learning about irrelevant material,
And watching belittling cartoons and
Shows approved by academia that
Made me even more
Bored.

As a kid
Who was constantly
Growing, evolving, and
Being shaped by all around me,
I wanted to travel,
See other kids
In the world like me,
To understand what was going
On amongst us and around us,
To know what we were here for
And what was our real purpose
For existence.

I have some questions
I would like to ask you, Mr. Schneider,
Now that I know that you are no
Longer a school principal,
But the new superintendent
Of the entire school
District.

I want to know
Why racism today
Was not clearly explained to me
Even though we covered events
That happened long ago.
I want to know why you
Never shared with us
Why other countries
Never liked us,
Why we are taught to compete,
To be divided in teams,
And why conformity is associated
With popularity, while
Eccentricity is considered
Undesirable?

I want to know
Why my cafeteria lunches
Were slammed packed
With bottom-tier
Processed junk food
Only suitable
For pigs?
And why is it
That whenever a bully
Slammed a kid into a locker for
His lunch money,
Nobody explained to us
That egotism, selfishness and greed
Were the seeds of
War?

I want to know
Why we were never taught
To stick up for each other,
To love one another, and that
Segregation sorted by the
Occupations of our fathers,
The neighborhoods we lived in, our houses,
Choices of sport, wealth, clothing,
Color of our skin
And the texture of our hair
Should never, ever
Divide us?

And lastly,
I want to know why
Is it that whenever I pledged
Allegiance to the flag,
I was never told that I was
Actually hailing to the
Chief?

You used to say that
I was a troubled child,
A misfit, and that I needed
Obedience training,
But you never acknowledged that
I was the fastest runner in the district
And that I took the school
To State and Nationals to compete
In the Spelling Bee among kids
Grades higher than me.
And that it was me,
Who won that big trophy
That sat in your office when you
Used to detain me for hours
And tell me I was no
Good.

Mr. Schneider,
If we are not taught truths as kids,
Then how do you expect us to
Grow up to be truthful citizens?
If we are only being taught the written way,
And it has not shown positive effects
In societies of yesterday or today,
Then how can we progress as a
United and compassionate
Nation?
What good is it,
To memorize the histories
Of our forefathers,
Without learning what could be
Gained from their lessons and mistakes
To improve our future
Tomorrows?

And finally,
I want to thank you;
For I know you have a tough job
Dealing with rebellious children like me.
Your job of mass processing and boxing
The young minds of America has not been an easy one,
And I congratulate you
On your recent promotion.
But I sincerely want to thank you,
Thank you,
And thank you,
For always pointing out
That I was
Different.”
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

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