Asha and her family were feeling well living in Ashmara. It is the capital of the African country Eritrea. But soon when Asha was just finishing fifth grade, a war conflict began in the main city and shortly afterwards unrests encompass half of the country. Many cities and places were bombed and the family of Asha had no other choice but to move somewhere else safer. The girl studied English at school. Her mother and father also knew some of the language, so the family decided to immigrate to the United Kingdom. Asha knew that there in Liverpool she will forget soon about the horror of the war in Africa but what she still didn't know was that she would have to suffer another horror. This time in her new English school.
At the beginning, the family rented a small house that was near Asha's school and everything seemed normal. For now. The girl was happy they managed to survive and escape the bombing and was excited about her new life in Liverpool.
. . .
The first day at school began. Smaller and bigger white children were running around, all neat and fancy. In this school only white children studied. Asha was the only exception and because of it she was feeling special and proud.
-No matter what happens, do not let other children get you down!-advised her her mother and left her in the yard.
Mrs. Baker was the class teacher of sixth grade. She introduced the little African girl to the rest of the class. The kids didn't remain enthusiastic about their new classmate.
-Go to the place where you escaped from!-shouted one boy.
-Yeah, to the gorillas-said another and the whole class started laughing.
-Knock it off!-scolded Mrs. Baker the children and told Asha to sit down.
-Show some sympathy and respect to the poor little girl. I know this is a new situation not only for you but for the whole school but you have to accept it-advised the teacher the class and little worried about the new girl, she started her first lesson for today.
. . .
When the lesson was over, some of the children from the class circled around Asha's desk and started with the questions:
-So, your name is Asha? I haven't heard more stupid name in my life.
Asha remained silent.
-Speak, you black girl. Do you know English at all?-wondered a skinny white snob girl.
This time Asha replied''I know it even better than you do, silly doll'' but in his mother tongue-Tigrinya.
-What? What's this claptrap you're saying? Think you're very smart. Ha! Now you'll see...
And soon the children pushed and pulled her by the shoulders and the neck, some teared her hair, other were screaming''Negros are prohibited to go to school!!''
Needless to say that Asha felt humiliated. She couldn't imagine what to expect in the future from this school of terror when even the first day kids treated her like trash.
She knew that preteen kids can be very cruel sometimes but this went too far. She tried to push everyone aside and went to the blackboard and spoke in pure English with a loud tone of the voice:
-Am I not just like you? No matter what color is my skin, I'm just like you but you're to shallow to see it. When I cut myself I bleed....just like you. My blood is red.....just like yours. If I am being hit, I start to cry......just like you if you were being hit. You think you know everything and have the right to judge me. But when you see how the ruthless soldiers ruin your house in front of your eyes, how killers do not spare your grandparents, friends, and neighbors from murdering and when you see the ugly face of the war, then you can give me your opinion. You tell me that because of my skin I don't have the right to receive a proper education. And that only cruel and mean little white snobs possess this sacred right. I'll tell you this-you just don't know a thing about life. You never left this city and it's easy for you to talk. But after everything you did to me , I don't wish none of you to face war. NEVER!!
After this emotional and at the same time pain-driven speech, Asha left the school
Some children felt ashamed and stupid. Two of them were already crying, touched by the words of the girl.
Today they all learned a lesson. Not from Mrs. Baker but from a little black girl who had the courage to stand up for her human rights. And to make the first step in the change of the educational system in Great Britain. The year was 1955.