Therí A Pickens

Ursa Corregidora Goes to Junior High in the 1990s

I’m in the principal office for giving this boy
a knuckle tap to the temple & his mama there 
and my mama ain’t. The principal ask what 
happened, say ladies first. Smile. So I say I 
was wearing my gym shorts & minding my own 
business & he say that ain’t what happen. I cross 
my arms ‘til principal say go on. So I tell them 
about how he shoulda never been looking 
at my behind cuz ain’t nothing there for him. 
& how even if he just happen to see something 
he don’t know me like that to go picking it off. 
& how come if he so innocent then why was him 
& them other boys laughing, huh? & his mama look 
away, wrinkle her nose. The boy say he just was 
being nice & I wanted him to touch me. I say Naw. 
His mama narrow her eyes a little bit. & the principal 
ask where my mama at? & I shrug, don’t say nothing 
‘bout how some people literally don’t have no time 
for this shit. The two of them look at me like I shoulda 
never been wearing the shorts no how. & I think 
they all I got. I look at his mama looking at me, 
saying nothing. & I wonder whether she making 
a generation of boys like this here principal. 
& the principal ask why come my shorts so short. 
His mama say that ain’t the question here. She grab 
the boy ear & twist it, whisper all up in his skull. He say 
I didn’t mean it. I ain’t raised to be no boy that hurt people. 
I say I don’t want no boys hurting me. 
He say I don’t wanna be a boy that hurt people. 
I say don’t hurt me.

Therí A Pickens, PhD has written two monographs including Black Madness :: Mad Blackness (Duke 2019). You can find her on Twitter (@TAPPhD) and her website ( She is a Professor of English.