OPINION

WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Bullying

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

Rightfully so, there has been much talk about bullying in recent years.

This behind-the-scenes concept in most people’s lives needs to be addressed if we are ever going to move forward as a society and a species. Violence toward one another for simply power purposes is no way to conduct personal relationships in the long run. It never ends well; one way or the other.

I was bullied as an elementary student. It was the classic chunky, goofy-looking white boy was the go-to target of class bullies. It didn’t happen every day, so I didn’t think of it as a BIG problem in life. It was just part of the school experience. And anyway, back in the 1960s, it was ‘what boys did’ occasionally; part of growing up. No big deal…

I don’t remember telling anyone about it. Of course, the kids involved knew everything there was to know about it. The bullies and the witnesses kept silent so it could continue at their leisure. There were other targets in the class, so I did not have to endure actions by all the bullies all by myself. I guess we took turns or something!

There was this one boy, who was black, that took extra pleasure in bullying me. He actually got physical where others usually wouldn’t. He shoved and hit me; one time, he slammed my head into a cinderblock wall. All through it, I could see the rage behind his eyes. This wasn’t a simple bully; he had other problems I couldn’t comprehend at the time. I avoided him as much as I could. There was no fighting back; I would have been beaten to a pulp. He was that big and strong; taller and everything. It was a hellish year or two for me in the late elementary years.

For some reason, the bullying stopped when we got to middle school. I guess – collectively – we became more mature. Perhaps, there was more to do and more to think about in this new life and new school, so bullying took a backseat. I’m not saying it didn’t exist, but it rarely happened to me any longer.

That bully from elementary school dropped out and eventually went to prison. I heard he died there in his late 30s. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw him in middle school and high school. He apparently had bigger problems as he grew older.

But that’s not the end of the story; some twenty years later, I was volunteering in an early childhood class in Sherman when I was shocked beyond belief. The teacher was going through the roster calling on each child to do a simple task. She got to this little black boy and said his name. It was the same exact name as my bully all those years before with ‘junior’ added on the end.

I looked at his face and saw the boy who tormented me and others; the genetics were a match. It was a younger version of that rage-filled visage I had banished from my memory. I hadn’t thought of those times in decades and suddenly, it was right in front of me. I was taken aback; and for a few moments, I couldn’t do anything. I finally regained my composure and rejoined the class activities.

I spent a semester with that class of three-year-olds and their wonderful teacher. I purposely avoided that little boy most days, but curiosity got to me. I had to see how he was; what he took from his father, the man he probably had never seen. Maybe, I was biased, but I could tell that he had the same basic demeanor even at that young age; the one I remember from the halls of elementary school. I didn’t know this boy’s future, but I hoped it didn’t follow the same path as his father. I left that school and didn’t hear anything more about father or son. To this day, I have no information about them. All I have left is the memories of torment and the reminder 20 years later in the form of a child.

Bullying lives long after it is over; I hope we find a way to end it before it does us all in…

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.