For the first time in her now-16 years, Khadijah Thompson's first thought upon awakening on her born day anniversary was not Happy Birthday to Me. Today, she greeted her slightly-older reflection with, "Tomorrow, I become a white woman". She didn't say it with either excitement or apprehension, but with more of a clinical detachment.
Taking in her dark chocolate skin, a color that Bruno's Chocolates would envy for sure, she spoke to her image. "Tomorrow, the surgery to make my skin white begins." She put her face right up to her reflection, dissecting every inch of herself, from hairline to chin. "Tomorrow, they'll take my wide nose and make it thinner." She sniffed. "I wonder if it'll hurt." Putting a hand to her mouth, she gently touched her plump, garnet-tinged lips with the tips of her fingers. "They'll make my lips thinner, too." She zoomed in on her eyes. "At least they’ll leave my eyes alone. I love their hazel color and long lashes."
Stepping slightly back, she raked a hand over her tight cornrows. "I wonder what they'll do with my hair. I hope it gets to keep its dark auburn color." Stepping further back still, she dropped her blue robe to the floor and took in her naked form. Cupping her breasts in her hands, she wondered, "Will these stay the same size?" Turning sideways, she looked at the buttocks that had been admired by so many boys in school. "And what about my BUTT? Will they take some of it away?!"
Looking at herself top to bottom, she wondered one final thing. "Will I still...be ME?"
She thought of everyone she knew and having to leave them for the next two years, the better to function as a Caucasian before deciding on her permanent "color". Her parents were proud that she'd volunteered for the experiment. It wasn't that they weren't proud of their heritage - in fact, they were very proud of it - but they also realized the need for man to see outside of their skin tones and if trying on another ethnicity was a step in that direction, they were all for it. But other people were a different story.
Her bestie, Shantilly, stood by her side, even if she didn't quite understand her decision at first. "But, WHY, Dijah?" she had asked. "I thought you were proud of being a strong sister!"
"I was...I am. And that's why I have to do this! I have to show that regardless of my color, I'm still me!"
Shantilly nodded, pursing her pink lips. "I hear you." She paused peeling her orange, her chewed nails making the job that much more difficult. "If I wasn't ultra-light already, I might just try it, too."
Loquacia, on the other hand, had shown her true colors. "I knew it. I am SO not surprised. I always knew you wanted to be a white girl and now you get to be one." She pointed her purple lollipop in Dijah's direction. "Watch. Your two years of 'trying it' - and HOW does one even 'try on' another color, anyhow? - will end up with you staying white! You ain't no real sister." She planted a caramel hand on her jean-clad hip and tapped her purple nails on her upper thigh.
"Yes, I am, Quacia. And that's why I have to do this! I have to show that I'm more than just a skin color! Why can't you see that?"
"Girl, please. You don't have to turn into some whitie bread to do that."
Before Dijah could say more, her so-called friend was gone, strutting across the cafeteria to go sit with a couple of other girls. Malycia, Tyrineice, and Nina had all turned their backs on her, too. Only Tilly and her sister, Vette, stuck by her.
She sighed. Better to know now who was really in her camp than to be disappointed later. She pursed her lips at herself. I really hope they leave my lips alone, though.
One week after going through the surgery, Andre - formerly known as Andrew Maxmillion Rutherford IV - opened his eyes and again saw nothing but white. White walls, white tables, even the talkie box had a white frame. Everything was white. Laughable, since today was the day the bandages would come off and he'd see his new, black, face.
He didn't feel any different. But then, had he really expected to? Had he really thought he'd go from stuffy, preppy, white-bread Andrew to cool homie, Andre, in a flash? If he was being honest with himself, he kind of thought he would. Besides wanting to take a stand against racism, he also wanted to see what it would be like to be a cool brother...But wasn't that, in itself, racist? Wasn't that thought right there thinking in terms of stereotypes? Who said only 'brothas' could dance, jump high, and spit lines like a mutha' (Eminem being the exception, of course)?
His father and friends sure didn't think highly of his decision. His father just about hit the ceiling when he told him what he'd signed up for.
"No son of mine is going to walk around in a black boy's body!"
"Father, it's only for two ye-"
"I wouldn't give a shit if it was for two minutes!" Andrew III ran a hand through his short dark blonde hair before pointing a finger at his son. "Tell them you changed your mind!"
Andrew stood his ground. "I won't, father. You'll see. This IS a good thing! And I thought you always taught me that all men are created equal."
His father curled his bottom lip before stabbing his half-chomped cigar into an empty yellow saucer on the counter. "They are. Some are just more equal. We are more equal. We come from a long line of Rutherfords and I won't have you sullying our name like this!"
Andrew looked at the veins popping from his father's forehead and straining to escape his neck. Even at such a tense moment, he had to keep from laughing, as his father looked just like one of those cartoons, turning red with indignation.
"Then you'll he happy to know, father, that as part of the program, I'll be moving across the country for the two-year duration. That way, I can fully immerse myself into my new...uh-" The look on his father's face stopped him mid-sentence.
The two men stared at each other for a moment, then Andrew cleared his throat. "Meanwhile, I'll go stay with Aunt Heather. She understands!"
And that was the last he'd talked to his father. Sadly, his best friends were no better.
Thomas J. Richener III and Harold P. Quinton, Jr. looked at him like he'd fallen off the oft-mentioned turnip truck.
"You're going to do WHAT?!" they'd said in unison. They could never agree on anything. Leave this to be the one thing where they'd come together.
"Oh, c'mon, you guys. We have black friends, for crying out loud!"
"True," Thomas said, straightening out his yellow sweater vest. "But having black friends and becoming black are two completely separate things."
Harold nodded, a lock of red hair falling into his dark brown eyes. "I like them well enough, but Andrew...this is really pushing it, man."
"I can not believe what I'm hearing! Haven't we always stood up for others, even when we ended up bullied ourselves? How many rallies have we gone to? How many petitions for change have we signed?"
"That's all well and good, A, but why do you have to become one of them?"
"To prove that I can have any face at all, be it white, black, yellow, purple, or green, and still be me because it's what's on the inside that counts."
That was two months ago. His friends hadn't brought it up again and neither had he, but after that, there was always a bit of tension in the air when they got together. Then, at his born day anniversary celebration last week, Harold had told him he still didn't agree, but maybe he could try some black pussy and let them know how it was.
Andrew shook his head at the memory. He loved his friends dearly, but now he could see what douches they could be.
Turning his head, he looked at the night stand and saw the picture of his former face smiling from the little 5x7 frame his nurse had placed there. He wasn't a bad-looking guy at all. Dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, dimples, just the kind of all-American white face America loved, while giving lip service to the idea of a "great melting pot". He'd exchanged the slick blonde hair for coarse black hair, the blue eyes for brown ones, and his trim nose for a slightly wider one.
Then a new thought occurred to him...Hmmm. I wonder if my schlong is bigger now.