Warriors Don’t Cry, Written by Melba Patillo Beals is a masterpiece addressing the challenges that faced integration of black students in classes dominated by white students. Melba was among the first black students to be integrated in Central High School (CHS). Before Melba could join a high school, there is a court ruling illegalizing segregation in schools where blacks and whites attend separate schools.
However, sending Melba to Central High School was tantamount to child abuse because the danger she was being exposed to was evident; it is lucky that she was not killed. As this paper explicates, Melba was exposed to grave danger and this negates the need to take her to that school in the first place.
As aforementioned, the danger exposed to Melba by sending her to Central High School is evident. After the court ruling illegalizing segregation in schools, a white who has been angered by the decision tries to rape Melba; if it were not for Marissa, who attacks the white man, Melba would have gone through this beastly sexual assault. This is the first foretell sign that Melba was in trouble. Threats are all over and it is clear that the much-waited integration would not be welcome amongst the whites. The numerous numbers of lawsuits that different whites file before the opening of school echo this impeding danger.
These lawsuits are meant to intimidate the nine students set to join Central High School. Melba’s custodians could have taken the warnings and keep Melba at home. However; India, her grandmother does not to relent, she says, “God’s warriors don’t cry, ‘cause they trust that He’s always by their side (Melba 18). Ignoring facts does not change them and this is where India; Melba’s grandmother misses the point. She chooses to ignore the fact that the prevailing environment is not suitable for Melba.
On September 3, 1957, India drives her grandchild Melba to CHS. As expected, they are attacked by a white mob; fortunately, they escape unscathed. To emphasize how volatile the environment around CHS is, Arkansas National Guard surrounds the school. This is enough reason to make India realize how unwise it is to continue pushing Melba to attend this school. Melba insists that she wants to return to Horace Mann, her former high school but India insists that she is not that coward to quit.
Melba cannot leave the house and this measure up to child abuse. In an attempt to save the situation, Governor Faubus and President Eisenhower intervene but their efforts are fruitless. The State of Arkansas wins a case that seeks to remove Arkansas National Guard around the school. Judge Davies rules that the nine black students be allowed to study in CHS. Governor Faubus follows the judge’s directive and removes the guards around the school; however, he says there will a lot of bloodshed if Melba and the other eight students join CHS. These insinuations are enough to warn India that it is inexpedient to take Melba to CHS. Ignoring this fact, India is perpetuating child abuse. On September 23, 1957, the nine black students go to CHS only to be attacked by angry white students.
Even though these black students manage to enter into class, Melba is coerced to seek refuge in the principle’s office after a mob breaks the school barricades and advance towards her classroom. This is grave danger facing Melba yet India does not care or rather does not see it. Can child abuse to more than this? The greatest mistake that India makes in this case is to face danger with sheer vague beliefs. Melba may not be a quitter; however, this does not make her immune to attacks from white mobs. After several failed efforts to prevent the mob attacks, President Eisenhower employs force to root out this vice.
The black students are given 101st Airborne Division escort. Nevertheless, this does not help greatly given the torture Melba and her friends are going through. “The physical and psychological punishment we endured profoundly affected all our lives. It transformed us into warriors who dared not cry even when we suffered intolerable pain” (Melba 29).
The fact that Melba underwent through “torture” and “intolerable pain” underlines child abuse. She did not become a warrior because she wanted to; no, this was the only way she could respond to the abuse she was exposed to by the people who took her to CHS. Melba puts it clearly the problems that she went through. While other students were busy playing and having good time, she was, “escaping the hanging rope of a lynch mob, dodging lighted sticks of dynamite, and washing away burning acid sprayed into my eyes” (Melba 32). What more evidence can there be to show that Melba was endangering her life.
The God India speaks of being around Melba was at work for she was never killed. What is India thinking when pushing Melba to continue attending CHS? The attacks do not stop even after international community raises concern. Mrs. Jorumn Rickets, a Norwegian reporter tries to intervene but white businesspersons thwart her efforts. President Eisenhower calls back 101st Airborne and this gives way for more attacks.
One day, while Melba is in washrooms, white girls attacks her and subjects her to blistering waters. After Minnijean, one of the nine black students is suspended for throwing chili in the eyes of his attacks, the white students break into a chant saying, “One nigger down and eight to go” (Melba 45). On another occasion, Melba is about to be attacked by a white mob thank God Link saves her by giving her his car keys. Link warns her of more imminent attacks that the whites are planning. These attacks are too much for Melba to handle. Even though she handles them by becoming a warrior, the pain is too much to bear as a child. From the examples indicated above, it is clear that Melba was under grave danger and this is tantamount to child abuse.
From the events that Melba accounts for in her book, it is apparent that she is exposed to grave danger by going to CHS.
Those who let her go to this school are guilty of child abuse. From the beginning, it is clear that the whites are not for the idea of integration. After the court illegalizes segregation in schools, a white man tried to rape Melba for he is against this ruling. This is a clear indication that letting Melba attend CHS is a dangerous issue. After India and Melba are attacked and luckily escape unscathed, India responds by telling Melba that she is not a quitter and she needs to push on for these attacks would recede. However, this is a misinformed notion for Melba continues to live under fear as the attacks persist.
The torture and intimidation that Melba bears, amount to child abuse. She confesses that they only became warriors who would not shed tears because this was the only way to face their hard times. Everything that happened to Melba is tantamount to child abuse; attempted rape through physical attacks to psychological torture surmounts child abuse.
Melba, Beals. “Warriors Don’t Cry; A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High School.” Washington; Washington Square Press, 1994.