The Monster at the End of This Book

From, White Nights, Black Paradise

Black is surely Beautiful.

The signs from our classroom float in the air, curling from the heat, rain and dried blood.

We like to read. We like to play. We count down the seconds until recess. We tease and chant praise. We dance, doing disco, doing the splits, the poplock, all the crazy freestyle steps we brought from the States, strutting, showing off, running contests. We haven’t seen TV in months. Free from its pollution. It’s bad as doing smack Dad says. Even the show “Good Times”, ‘cause they always want to Stepin Fetchit, to zip coon a strong black man.

Our teacher is teaching us to see ourselves. Not just in the margins of halogen blond Jane and her accomplice little Dick. But fully, the way we were made. Before there were walls and nations and continents and we were all just scrambled cells, babysoft and naked, breathing underwater.

Not just the smart ones are encouraged to speak up in class. Our teacher makes even the slow ones participate. And naw, nobody is higher or better than anybody else. And naw, the blondies that were prettiest in the white American world ain’t nothing here. Dad said it’s the socialist way. Dad says everybody has a special gift to give. Anybody we see acting all big and bad we tell on them. Sometimes they get sent out to the jungle to get their attitude straight. Sometimes a hot pepper on the tongue does the trick. After that, they come back right in the head.

Mondays is science. Tuesdays is ancient civilizations of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Wednesdays is geopolitics. Thursdays is public speaking. Fridays is music, crafts and creative writing. The walls are filled with poems of this better world. The walls are filled with pictures of bombs dropping, ghost white mushroom clouds spreading over L.A. and the Fillmore.

We’re lucky to have escaped in time. Lucky when so many were left behind. We know it’s not right but we secretly pray for the left behind kids. We pray that they could be here with us in paradise. We know prayer is fakeness, magic and fairy tales. We know it’s a con and a lie but we’re scaredy cats, ‘cause what if there’s a god besides Dad.

The grown-ups are always watching for big breeches, big mouths, show offs. Any old grown-up can school you on the spot on what to do and what to be. We follow their lead, but have our own language for emergencies. We do youth council and speak in it just to rile them.

The white people rule, but everybody is equal. The white people say under the skin we’re all blood. The white people say cut us and it’s the same. Che pricked her arm with a paring knife to prove it to one of the mixed white girls who was talking smack. Girl with Laurie Partridge straight brown hair all down her back, trying to get out of slopping hogs like the rest of us claiming she needed novocaine for a sore tooth. Her little clique puts on a show acting black at the meetings in the pavilion to please Dad. When the grown-ups turn their backs they’re picking at us for weak spots, treating us like stepchildren.

There are Sesame Street books with singing rainbow kids and lessons on turning the other cheek. Every month we adopt a new country, imagining how the children live there, performing Indian or Chinese customs, showing off our Russian greetings to all the adults as a warm-up to Dad’s speeches. They clap and holler, bursting with pride. They raise the roof for an encore. Dad, Carol and the others are negotiating for us to move to Russia. Jamiah asks if there are black people there and is told to be quiet.

Later we read to the babies, sneaking in their favorite story about Grover the blue muppet before lights out and the bugs dive bomb every piece of naked skin.

There’s a monster at the end of this book, Grover says, as the patrols start up outside, rain drumming through the roof, into our mouths, making the sheets soggy.

There’s a monster at the end of this book, Grover whispers, batting his googly scarecrow eyes.
There’s a monster at the end of this book, Grover whines, toothpick arms flailing.
Each page we turn there is Grover warning us not to go any further.
Each page we turn Grover puts chains over them to keep us from turning another page.
We turn and turn until the last page and BOO there he is.
Grover, the monster.

The lights shut off and we scatter to our beds, waiting for the inspection. The guards pass, rifles clicking at their sides, snouts poking into the dorms on alert for the faintest stirring, a stray cough, fart or belch.
We are drifting, dreaming of the group of visitors coming the next day from America.
They will sleep good tonight, the guards say as they leave.

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1 Response to The Monster at the End of This Book

  1. I think this excerpt is an excellent foretaste of the hell that Jonestown was. Especially for its rank and file hundreds, mostly black women, out in the horrible sugar cane with high hear and humidity, the place was a rotten cruel
    And evil work camp living in beans and rice.

    In another article in this site, Siviku days that the exploitation of black women was tied in with the sexist and racist history of USA.

    I think it could be simpler. They were not necessarily exploited in San Francisco. Their husbands might have bought them houses in the Fillmore when they were cheap. They often got welfare benefits and Ssi to which they had never contributed and which were in fact paid by white female
    Workers as well as employed black men. They were not well off but certainly not always forced to work in the capitalistic USA.

    In communist utopia Jonestown the dictator jones said that everyone had to work. Off to Russia if it didn’t work out. And sack loads of rice ad beans picked up by the white leaders from Georgetown and brought to feed these female
    Slaves by boat and by truck.

    The children also had to work.

    Hitler and Stalin set the example for the Great Leader. Jones ate well
    Separately as camp commandant!

    But why recruit this race and this gender for field work when previously they had not been working at all? Why not string and hard men?

    Because men who were able bodied and or educated would never fall
    For this kind of communist claptrap.

    These women were complicit in their fates by surrendering themselves to a
    Madman as evil as hitler. Plus they had homes and government checks to liquidate. Jones stole $26 million which was deposited in Swiss bank accounts and never found again. San Francisco politicians were hand in glove in getting Ssi checks and welfare money sent to Jonestown against federal law. Our tax money financed jones and many knew and were angry.

    That is a big reason McCarthy flew down as senator. Not just to investigate the peoples health but the money pit itself.

    Why do some people fall for communist propaganda? Why in this case the women as willing suckers! What led them
    To be so gullible? If they wanted to work why not take any job in San Francisco and avoid jungle misery?

    Jonestown is a story about money and grand larceny and
    Mass murder and drugs and using the most gullible people the leader could find: black women. It could be laid at the feet of the Johnson administration for giving single black women welfare. He saw that money and went for it. Yes and he was white and he was male and he stole it for all of us who foolishly finance the welfare state.

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