She couldn't have said anything worse.
There are no lines she could have rehearsed to bring greater damage to my heart that Sunday after church.
I'd just been introduced to Rebecca,
And made a comment about her nice, red hair,
When she dealt the blow that brings me here before you today.
It's still hard for me to say,
"Oh yeah, I guess your hair is sort of red."
I remember the first time anyone tried to make fun of my orangy-red hair,
Shining fair and bright in the summer afternoon,
My nose and cheeks covered with cute patches of freckles.
She called me carrot top.
That little girl kept hurling it at me as if I possessed some sort of bulbous, grotesque deformity
Or contagious disease,
Or maybe she felt it her duty to be the one
Oh, so slyly informing me of the enormity of her stunning discovery that, like,
Oh my gosh! My hair's not blonde!
Like, how is that possible?!
But I was ready.
The six glorious years I had lived were rushing together to a culmination of that savory moment of
When I would hurl her down from her high and mighty pedestal of fun-making.
I may have looked sweet and innocent,
But I was completely prepared to annihilate her in the warfare of pre-pubescent verbal battle.
I would rattle her brain with my ribald reposte,
Clothe her with shame for the mere thought that she was allowed to make witticisms about my
God-given birthright of beautiful, red hair
I merely made plain the obvious truth her little, ignorant eyes had overlooked.
"You're stupid. Carrot tops are green."
And it was done.
Her tongue lay helpless in the Texas dirt.
I never saw her again,
But those words must have quickly spread to all humanity because no one ever dared call me carrot-top.
From that point on I took up the red-haired badge of courage,
Conducting the research on our heritage,
Collecting the wisdom of red-haired sages of the past who persevered in the plight of paranoia, persecution and abuse.
I was the first to speak up at local rallies,
The last to leave protests, demonstrations and sit-ins.
When we marched on Washington,
Hair burning a trail into the heart of America,
I was on the front lines.
And every time I hear some kid in the mall point me out and say that I look like Shaggy,
I make sure and let him know
It's not his lanky limbs, scraggly goat-tee, baggy clothes,
Or the way his nose and throat keep his voice forever sounding like it's like going through puberty that make him cool, "Zoinks, Scoob!"
It's that slight hint of redness in his hair.
Words wear thin when trying to convey the sense of pain I've overcome in the struggle we all face to find equality.
So when those words twisted their knife from Rebecca's mouth into the soul of who I am,
I felt the fury, the rage, the exploding, ageless revenge that I wanted to say,
Like that summer day with another little girl so long ago.
But I've learned to grow past the wound
And hope that she discovers soon
That even if my hair isn't as red as some.
It's not about what's on my head.
It's whether my hair is red...
IN MY HEART.