Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Melanin Games

[Media prompt] Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali went on a rant, arguing that black people are the superior race because white people possess “genetic defects” that make them lesser humans.”
The Melanin Games

My mother wakes me up, calling to me from the kitchen that breakfast is ready. The smell of fried cabbage and noodles wafts into the bedroom, a partitioned space large enough for me and my sister to share a bed. We had stayed up half the night preparing, so I’m not surprised she is still asleep. I pull the blanket over her as I get out of bed. She mutters something I can’t catch, then rolls over towards the wall, pulling the blanket with her. There is no need to wake her; I can tell her all about it if I make it back.

Yesterday I turned sixteen, which is why we had so much to do last night. Elspeth is too young to be useful yet, but she insisted on staying awake until we finished. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if I’d have the courage to go through with it; not that we have a choice. After dad died, I’ve felt more responsibility for what happens to the family, more protective towards my young sister. She’s ten, and in six years will have to go through this as well. Things will be a lot easier if I make it through today, though they say less than five per cent succeed.

When I sit down at the table, my mother gives me a bowl of noodles. She shakes her head in apology. Even today, she says, trailing off into silence. I tell her not to worry, that she’s got enough problems without trying to get hold of meat. She smiles, something I don’t see often these days. To be honest, some protein would give me a bit of an edge.

After breakfast, I check on Elspeth. She grips on to me with surprising strength when I hug her, but is fast asleep when I leave. I make it just in time to catch the first tram into the city square. By the looks of it, there’s another one like me on board, a boy from the outer zone if his clothes are anything to go by. I catch his eye but he turns away. He is small for his size, and anybody can see that his chances are not good. I wonder about my own, and discover my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth.

The Black Panthers are already in the square. I don’t know if it’s true, although we all believe it anyway, that they’ve been bred specially in Somalia. They’re bigger and stronger than locals, and you never see them anywhere else than at the Melanin Games. After I sign in, I wait in a yard with the boy from the tram, who refuses to tell me his name, and twelve others; fourteen in total. A five per cent survival rate suggests the odds are against even one of us surviving. 

Some functionary from the BLM starts the proceedings by reading out the Melanin Lore. I don’t know why they bother, we all know it by heart, and when it’s over he signals for the referees to take over. One of them calls for Miles White, and the boy from the tram stands up. Through the railing I can see the Black Panther he needs to fight, and know it will be over quickly.

My mother says I shouldn’t blame my grand-parents, but it’s hard right now, sitting corralled in the holding pen, to bestow my best wishes on the generation that let the Blacks gain control. Did they ever imagine things would turn out different?  

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