Edna Mae: First Lesson in Prejudice

Edna Mae: First Lesson in Prejudice

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Edna Mae: First Lesson in Prejudice

The chief cause of human errors is to be found in the prejudices picked up in childhood.

Descartes

Edna Mae was one of my best friends when I was in the first grade. When it came time for her birthday party, all the girls in the class were invited. Each day in school there was great excitement.

“What kind of cake you gonna have?” we’d ask.

“Are you gonna have games with prizes? And decorations? Birthday hats?”

Edna Mae would just smile and shake her head. “Wait and see,” she’d say. Together we counted down the days until Saturday, the date on the invitation.

Finally the day arrived. I wrapped my gift, put on my best party dress and waited what seemed like hours for my mother to say, “Time to go!”

I was glad that I was the first to arrive because I got to help place the candy cups all around—one for each of the twelve guests. The table was covered with a special “Happy Birthday” tablecloth with matching plates and cups. Balloons were everywhere. Streamers crisscrossed the ceiling in the hallway, the living room and especially the dining room, where the table was all set. It looked like a fairyland.

“Oh, Edna Mae! Oh, Edna Mae!” was all I could say.

Edna Mae’s mom sent us out to the front porch to wait for the other girls. Edna Mae lived on the edge of town, and most of the other girls had never been to her house before.

“Some might be having trouble finding us,” her mother said.

We sat down on the steps and waited and waited and waited. Edna Mae began to cry. I felt so awful that I didn’t know what to say. Finally her mother came out and announced, “Let the party begin!” She ushered us into the house, tied a blindfold around our eyes, put a tail with a pin in our hands and led us to the donkey taped on the wall.

“Whoever gets the tail closest to the right place wins the first super prize!” she said. My tail ended up near the donkey’s nose. Edna Mae’s tipped the right front hoof. We laughed and laughed.

Together, Edna Mae and I played all the games and shared all the prizes. We even got to eat two pieces of cake each.

In the car on the way home, I asked my mother, “Why didn’t the other girls come? Edna Mae felt so bad.”

My mother hesitated and then said sadly, “Honey, the others didn’t come because Edna Mae is black.”

“She’s not black,” I protested. “She just looks like she has a tan all year long.”

“I know, honey. But Edna Mae is not like any of the other girls in the class, and some folks are afraid of those who are different from them. People are prejudiced, honey. That’s what adults call it: prejudice.”

“Well, those girls are mean. They made Edna Mae cry. I’m never gonna be prejudiced!” I said.

My mother put her arm around me and said, “I’m glad, honey. And I’m glad that Edna Mae has a good friend like you.”

Sandra Warren

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