Blackhumouristpress's Blog

April 6, 2012

Every Girl is a Princess

Ms. Jones led Stephanie into the beauty shop that was buzzing with sounds of music and talking.  Ms. Jones had her arm around the thin figure that struggled to look up at the women who were greeting them.

“Ladies, this is Princess Stephanie…  Princess Stephanie is going to be in the school play tonight and I need to have her look like royalty.”

Alice Jones had escaped inner city Detroit only to return to be an elementary school teacher at Holmes Elementary in the city of Detroit.  Despite fractured family lives of her young students, Ms. Jones got her fifth grade class to appreciate Romeo and Juliet and read stories by James Thurber.

Ms. Jones wrote a play that she was hoping to get published about a young, poor girl who grows up in Detroit that meets and marries a real prince from a make believe country in Africa. The students of her class were putting on the play for the entire school. The only wrench in the gears of the story was that Stephanie was a little white girl with blond hair.  While Stephanie was getting her hair washed in the back by the shampoo girl, Tisma, the owner of the beauty shop pulled Alice aside to understand what it was that she was doing exactly.  The older and larger woman stood close to Alice with one hand on her hip while gesturing with the other hand.

“You got one little white girl in a class full of black girls who now can buy themselves a Tiana doll and visualize themselves as Tiana and you choose the pretty white girl to be the princess who marries an African prince and moves to Africa?!  This ain’t 1960 when little colored, negro girls had no choice but to hold a little white doll and wish they wasn’t so damn black…  Watchu doin, girl?  Every damn mother in that auditorium gone think bout they man taking up with a blonde white woman.  What message you sending to all them other little black girls?  Little girls as black as you…”

Alice listened to Tisma with pursed lips and her arms folded, as she politely and patiently waited for her moment to speak.

“Before you question and chastise me, you should hear the story.”

Alice explained Stephanie’s story as Stephanie watched cartoons while her hair was being blown dried.  After several minutes, Tisma emerged with her large presence and larger voice.

“Trina!  Go git  Rouchelle and tell her to bring her some fabric.  I need her to make a gown quickly.  Ain’t no way I’m sending a princess out this place looking like a pauper.  When Princess Stephanie step outta here, everyone gone know the princess come to tea here today.”

Over the course of three hours, the rail thin ten year old girl was transformed into a regal figure.  Stephanie’s hair was curled and had blonde extensions added.  She had eyeliner, lipstick and pearls around her neck that matched the pearl colored dress that went along with pearl colored pumps.  Stephanie looked old enough to attend a junior prom.  She stood marveling at her self in the mirror as the women who created her commented to her and one another about how beautiful she looked. Alice put her arm around Stephanie’s shoulder and whispered in her ear.

“Remember how you look today and always remember you are beautiful on the inside and on the outside.  You are a princess and this is your day to feel like one.  You’re gonna do a good job tonight and so many people are gonna be there to see you.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you make it on the news tonight.  You are a pretty young lady, Stephanie and I believe you will one day make a beautiful queen.”

Stephanie stepped out on the stage and saw over a hundred parents and siblings sitting in seats.  She shined like a star.  Stephanie was articulate and vibrant.  When the performance ended, Stephanie was given flowers and adulation.  Alice then took Stephanie to Greektown to eat dinner and a dessert of Baklava.  Everyone noticed the pretty looking young debutante and some commented on how lovely she looked.  Stephanie really felt special.  There was no thought about living in an abandoned home with no heat with her crack addict grandmother and her boyfriend that was having sex with Stephanie and inviting others to do the same in exchange for a few dollars to buy drugs.  Alice had sensed something distressing in the eyes of the young girl and upon learning how she lived, removed her from the home without any opposition from Stephanie’s grandmother.  With the exception of a few neighbors who lived in the high rise condominium overlooking the Detroit River, nobody knew that Stephanie was living with her school teacher.

Stephanie changed into her Hello Kitty nightgown and hopped into the twin bed that had a smiling Felix the Cat clock on the wall where the eyes moved from left to right with each tick.  A television was on the wall with a shelf full of books and everything was safe, orderly and clean.  Nights were often difficult for Stephanie and Alice understood.  Thoughts of unspeakable acts often filled Stephanie’s mind as she lay in bed.  That night as Alice brushed Stephanie’s hair away from her eyes, Stephanie looked at Alice and thanked her and then calmly fell asleep.  That night Stephanie didn’t have dreams of toothless, drugged out men violating her or huddling on a piss stained mattress, trying to stay warm.  She dreamed she was walking down a red carpet and everyone respected and revered her for being a real princess.  All girls really are princesses.

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