I Was a Punching Bag in Second Grade


Lisa Aguilar Photo by Justin Traylor.


I remember second grade so vividly at Arlington Heights Elementary in Los Angeles. I loved being in school because it was far safer than being at home with a dysfunctional family.

That was until a little girl named Shamay who looked like a mini version of Serena Williams. She had two cute little braids and wore tank tops. She had little muscles and was very strong.

Shamay started picking on me and I tried to ignore her when she yelled in my face. I was scared of her. She taunted me in front of my schoolmates and told everyone how scared I was of her.

It was true I was afraid of her. It made her really upset that I wouldn’t put up a fight.

She followed me around and when nobody was looking she would punch me like a punching bag under the stairwell and pull my hair when I was trying to get away.

I had bruises all over my arms and shoulders. I was terrified. I would hold my urine to avoid running into her in the hallways.

The bullying I experienced had a profound effect on me. Shamay was African-American. I only had friends from other ethnicities from elementary through high school with the exception of three girls. They were black but, of Belizean descent and one was Jamaican and they were nice to me.

I had not overcome the fear of being bullied and assumed that all African-American girls were mean and could potentially harm me.

It was not until I decided to pursue a college degree in 1995 at West Los Angeles College that I embraced African-American women. I met very warm, kind, educated and cultured classmates who became friends during the same pursuit of a college education.

I also took an African-American history class because I had a genuine interest in learning about other cultures.

It is unfortunate that in today’s society there is such a thing as “racial profiling” where a person can be marginalized as a criminal because of the color of their skin.

It is an ongoing issue with society and law enforcement but, we can all lead by example in respecting each other as humans. Period.

As a returning college student at El Camino I love being around my classmates as this is an ethnically diverse college and everyone is treated with the utmost respect. We work together, we collaborate as a whole.

I still wonder what happened to Shamay. Children do not hit other children for no reason.

I thank God that this isolated incident with Shamay did not make me a ‘racist.” It would have closed the doors in my face to the beauty of the world.