Oh, how I looked forward to my tenth birthday. After all, as Betsy Ray said in
“Betsy and Tacy Go Over The Big Hill”, by Maud Hart Lovelace, “You have two
numbers in your age when you are ten. It’s the beginning of growing up.”
I expected that day to be one I’d remember for the rest of my life, and so it
turned out to be, but not for any of the reasons I thought it would.
I don’t remember what presents I got.
I don’t remember if my father came for his Sunday visit, and, perhaps, took me
to Coney Island. There were many Sundays when he didn’t show up. Too many
I don’t remember if I had a birthday party, or if we went out to eat, just
Maybe, if we went out, we went to Nathan’s, or to the local Chinese restaurant, Jade Mountain.
Then again, we may have gone to Chinatown; I loved going there and visiting the shops and the Museum, as well as eating in one of the many restaurants.
But whichever of these things I experienced on my tenth birthday, I cannot remember.
So why do I say that I remember my tenth birthday?
Because of the report I heard that night on the news. Four Black schoolgirls had been killed in a bombing in a church in Birmingham, Alabama, just because of
the color of their skin.
I couldn’t believe it. I looked at my mother and said, “But this is America.”
That was my first awareness of a hate crime.
And now, in 2020, hate crimes have become more and more common, almost incessant.