What kind of name is Omar?
I asked this new boy at school.
You named after a candy bar or what?
You know you’re too light to be milk chocolate.
Omar looked at me and laughed.
Since that first smile, he’s my best friend.
Maybe my best friend ever.
Folks call us the inseparables
Like one of those old singing groups
my daddy is always talking about.
Omar is a muslim name Omar tells me.
I think it sounds like a candy bar.
Like O’Henry, Baby Ruth, Mars or Almond Joy.
Maybe his mamma should have named him
Snickers because of the way he laughs.
Omar’s name sounds like candy
and the way he acts is sweet to me.
Every teacher except Mrs. Greenfield thinks so.
Mrs. Greenfield she don’t like Muslims.
and the rest of us she calls natural born sinners
because of the way we talk and behave.
Omar says, we should tell Mz. Greenfield
about herself since it’s Black History Month.
So Omar stands up and says to Mrs. Greenfield:
How come you don’t lead us somewhere?
Why you not like Harriet Tubman?
Why no field trips?
Why no trips to the museum or zoo?
Why we never go nowhere, why?
Mrs. Greenfield, she don’t say nothing.
She just look at Omar as if he is the last Muslim
on earth and is about to die.
I think about how Omar says Muslims pray
five times a day and how cats have nine lives and
just maybe Omar might make it to 3 o’clock
or maybe he won’t.
Suddenly Mrs. Greenfield has one of those
fainting spells like old Moses Tubman.
She has to sit down behind her desk so
she tells me to go get her some water.
I feel free as I race down the hall,
Wondering how Omar can be sweet sometimes
and get on everyone’s nerves the next.
My daddy once told me M&Ms
melt in your mouth and your hands.
especially if you colored.
Wait until I tell Omar.
by E. Ethelbert Miller