Chapter 3 – Love Don’t Live Here (Zyara)

I can’t do this anymore. I’m just existing with no purpose in this relationship and it’s really a waste of time. The lovemaking feels like a slow death. Each thrust is an attack to my core. I am convinced that I am truly paying for something I did wrong in my past life. I just pray for him to hurry up and get off of me. I know there are other women and I am tired of the disrespect. I am tired of arguing with him. He knows I know too but he won’t admit it. I feel defeated and I can’t function. I’m like a zombie at work and I can barely retain anything in class.

The reality cinder block hit me when I came home early from work to find a woman in my apartment. In my bedroom. In my bed. Our bed. The bed that we slept in. Mark was in the shower so he hadn’t heard me come in. I knew something was up when Shawn had a surprised look on his face when I came through the door. At eight years old, my son was extremely perceptive. He knew something was about to go down.

Shawn was in the living room alone watching cartoons. I’m assuming Mark had a fuck session while watching his son and decided to take a shower, leaving his whore lying in my bed. Chyna. She was slightly older than I was and she lived in Virginia. It appeared that she was in town and Mark had her over because no one would expect me to be home so early. She sat up in the bed when she saw me and was speechless. She clutched the sheets over her breasts as if she were caught off guard. Not sure how off guard she could’ve been knowing that she was sleeping in another woman’s bed. Chyna appeared to be a few years older than me. It seemed Mark had a thing for older women. Chyna had professed her love for Mark in letters I’d found in our closet some months back so I knew she wasn’t just a whore he was fucking. Funny enough, it felt good to finally put a face to the name. Something about when a man is cheating, the girlfriend always wants to know what the other woman looks like. As if her looking better or looking worse has some sort of bearing on how angry she’ll be.

I’m not a fighter. I didn’t fight. No vibes no scene. I just left. I didn’t even take Shawn with me. I remember asking him “You want anything from the store?” He asked to go with me. He got up and started to put on his little sneakers. My poor son knew I was hurt and he wanted to be Mommy’s partner in this. I told Shawn not to worry. “I’ll be back, I promise.” I backed out of the apartment and walked into the hallway, down the stairs and to the train station. I was hurt, yes. But it was that hurt that puts you beyond tears. That place where you’re just numb. You know the part of the movie when everything’s happening all at once and the protagonist is just standing there in silence? Yeah, that was me. In spite of knowing what it was, seeing it in my face was something I wasn’t prepared for. Now what was I supposed to do?

I called Ayanna because she knew the story. She’d been telling me to leave Mark for years. In fact, Ayanna had been on a date one night some years back with one of her random dudes and saw Mark at the movie theater with a woman. She called me immediately and told me. Like the thug that she is, she asked me “Do you want me to say something to his ass?! You know I will.” I knew she would but I told her not to. It wasn’t worth it. I was torn inside but it was just the beginning of what would be a series of difficult situations I’d have to navigate through.

I was trying to stick it out for the family. I had a connection to this man and it wasn’t as simple as just packing and leaving. I mean, where would I go? It was just too much to think about right now. I never thought I’d be here. At 26, I always envisioned myself in a different place. I should’ve been married and finished with school by now. At least that was the plan. I got pregnant straight out of high school and the rest just happened from there. I don’t regret my little man, not in the least. But if I had to do it all over again, I think I might have waited.

I had to work before thinking about going to school. So I did what I needed to. Fast food, office work, airport security, whatever I needed to do to make ends meet. I just thought life would be easier with a partner. Having a partner I learned made it worst. I dreaded coming home because love wasn’t there anymore. I longed for that feeling of anxiety when he’d walk through the door and instead of greeting him with an attitude, I’d embrace him, tell him how much I’d missed him, and how much I wanted to show him after he showered and climbed in the bed with me. Those days were long gone however, and I was over the idea of sharing those moments with Mark.

Mark knew I’d come by the apartment . I could tell from the missed phone calls that started to invade my phone. Fuck him. I never answered. I just sat in the coffee shop on Fulton and stared out the glass window at the traffic and the people moving hastily on with their lives. I was sad but not angry. Sad because I knew I had to make a move but my poor baby would suffer. My brain was tired. It was a Wednesday and I needed just enough strength to make it to Friday.

While I sat in the coffee shop, Djembe called me. We’d been texting each other periodically but nothing too serious. Mostly “hey, how are you” or “hope all is well”, playing it safe. It was probably too soon to lay all of this drama on him but when he called and asked if I was free, I gave him my location so he could meet me.

Djembe arrived at the coffee shop in a little under 20 minutes. He was dressed in dark fitted blue jeans, a black defining button up shirt, suede sneakers and a plaid blazer. He had a fresh haircut and smelled of everything heavenly. He was tall and took great care of his body, especially his shoulders. Djembe was about 10 years older than me and had this sensuous appeal to him. It wasn’t the way he talked or they way he’d gently touch my shoulder. It was his gaze. He could’ve been talking about candy corn, but his eyes were piercingly sincere and he looked right through me. For the duration of our sitting, I found it difficult to make eye contact. I was in such a weird place, I didn’t know what to disclose or what to suppress.

He had been in the military and was well traveled by 37. He’d been all over and shared his fascination with the many cultures he’d come across during his travels. I’m not sure what it was about him coming to me at that moment, but I knew something was happening. I was connecting to this man but not sure why or what this would become. I was vulnerable but I played it cool. We caught up on classes we were taking, work and life in general. He was taking the second part to the Chemistry course and some other courses. I was still completing some prerequisites and trying to figure out if I would still stay in the Medical Assistant program.

My phone continued to ring so I just turned off the phone. Djembe suggested we take walk, if I had the time. Shit, I had all the time in the world, right now. We left the coffe shop and headed to his vehicle. Djembe opened the passenger door for me and closed it once I was sitting comfortably.  We headed to Tillary Street and parked alongside the park where some guys were playing a serious game of basketball. We headed over to The Brooklyn Bridge. As we approached the opening of the bridge, Djembe took my hand in his. I was shy and nervous but I reciprocated and held his too.

I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I got back home. I just knew I was with this man right now. I didn’t think about tomorrow or yesterday. I was just in that moment. Enjoying his attention, his soothing voice, his aroma. He was everything I was missing and I didn’t know what to do. He was a gentleman and he seemed to worry if I were comfortable with him. He was calming and I needed him, right now. It was as if what happened earlier hadn’t even happened. I was in a safe place and wanted to stay there. But I knew I had to go home and prepare for the next day.

Djembe was pleasant and gentlemanly and appealed to my senses. I knew, if the opportunity presented itself, I would take advantage of it.

 

Chapter 2 – Hindsight is Always 20/20 (Ayanna)

Once I fall in love with a guy, I’m all in. Well, at least now I am. I’ve had a few good men in my life but I wasn’t mature enough, at the time, to appreciate what they were offering me. Now, for some reason, the Gods believe that I should suffer for the mistakes I’ve made in the past. Well, maybe suffer is too strong of a word, but I am learning what it’s like in the deeper end of the pool.

You always hear people talk about the one that got away. Caleb was mine. He was simply a good man to me. When I look back on it now, I really screwed that up. I shudder at the memories of what took place and how I managed to royally ruin the relationship.

I met the love of my life at a male revue in The Bronx. It was the dead of winter. Zyara wasn’t really into those types of events so I was surprised when she agreed to come along. Zyara thought it would be fun to take her friend Elizabeth, a tall beauty from St. Lucia, along with us. The joke was Elizabeth had never experienced anything like a male revue before so this was going to be a night full of laughs.

We rode the 4 train to 167th St. The New Savoy Nightclub wouldn’t be a long walk from the station so we all agreed to make the trek. We arrived at the venue, presented our tickets and were ushered inside. After securing our coats at the coat check, we made our way to the main room for the event. It was the typical nightclub scene except the majority of the men were naked and the women were in rare form. These women were wilding out! The music was blaring and you could see all the women crowding around the male dancers as they gyrated and humped their asses for dollar bills. It had to be the funniest thing to see. The big girls are usually always up front and center so of course the dancers would perform the standard dry hump sex routine on the largest woman they could find in the audience. This routine always included a towel and whipped cream.

Once the main strippers performed, the after party began. The after party was a more relaxed setting where the strippers would walk around and dance with the women or “dick whip” you for a few dollars. I’m cheap. I already knew I wasn’t spending more than twenty dollars on a stripper so that dude would really have to show me what’s good. The after party also allowed regular men to enter the club.

Zyara and I made our way to the bar to get drinks, leaving Elizabeth behind to hold our spot in the corner. On our way to the bar, I noticed Caleb. He was medium height, about 5’10’ – 5’11’ and all dark brown and handsome. He had a fresh baldie and a gap in his teeth. He was dressed in classic hood wear – fresh construction Timbs, dark blue jeans, and a black Polo sweater. Once I saw him, I knew I had to have him. We returned to our corner with the drinks and I told Zyara that I needed to know who that guy was. Zyara told me to simply walk over to him and ask him what’s up. Really? Who does that? Once she saw that I wouldn’t stop talking about him, Zyara hastily walked over to him on some high school bullshit and told him I wanted to talk to him. I was annoyed that she did that but I wasn’t mad. Caleb and I talked and danced the whole night. All I remember thinking was, I can be with this man forever.

Since the girls and I agreed that we came together and were leaving together, I couldn’t go home with Caleb. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet up the following day, which we did. We had sex on the second night and ended up in a relationship that lasted five years. During that five years, Caleb, my daughter and I lived together in his Harlem apartment. Caleb loved my daughter Gabrielle as if she were his own. The problem was I was 22 and wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I mean, there were times when I was in relationship mode. And when the relationship got boring, I did my own thing.

There was one New Year’s Eve when Caleb and I got into it really bad. Over what, I can’t remember. When he left for work New Year’s Eve morning, I packed an overnight bag for Gabrielle and I, and stayed over my friend Derren’s house in New Jersey. Derren was a guy I met online but we hit it off so well that he became one of my best friends. I brought in the New Year with Derren and his friends. I came back home to find Caleb outside waiting for me.

He didn’t hit me but I knew he would get me back. Don’t ask me what the hell I was thinking then. I was just stupid. Caleb wanted to have a family and get married. That was all he wanted. I was worried about being locked down with marriage. I was too stubborn to see what he was trying to do. He wanted to show me he wasn’t like the other guys out there. He wanted more from life and wanted me to be a part of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that until about five years after we broke up.

After we broke up, we remained as friends. I’ve tried to reach out to him but he won’t bite. He confessed once that he was vulnerable when we were together and he learned an important lesson. Never again would he let another woman get him in that way. I want Caleb to understand and believe that I have matured. I’ve grown up. I’ve made some mistakes in the past but I know what I did wrong. The key is to learn from your mistakes and use that experience to make better decisions in the future right? If that is the case, why do I keep meeting losers? I haven’t had a real relationship since Caleb and I know that if the guy of my dreams gives me the chance, I can prove that I am matured. I am capable of making someone happy. All I need is that one real chance.

Chapter 1 – Must Be Chemistry (Zyara)

When you live, you learn. This allows for you to be able to provide an accurate account of what went down. It also makes room for you to review what you did right, cringe at the things you did wrong, and find peace in doing things differently when you move forward. I can tell you that dating has its ups and downs. However, dating a married man has proven to be straight downhill. Most people will pass judgement on my situation before even knowing the details. Yes, dating a married man is morally wrong and unethical for obvious reasons, I suppose. So is fornicating and having a baby out of wedlock. The truth is these “situations” are hardly ever planned. Who really wakes up with the goal of seeking out a man who is legally committed to another woman? Certainly not me. But this happened to me and I wasn’t prepared. I experienced feelings of intense love to utter betrayal, yet I’m the one that’s wrong. Consider this – What if you feel like as a single woman, it isn’t your responsibility to care about his wife? And his family? What if he was yours first? Each story has three sides. Well this is my side of it.

Djembe was my friend long before anything happened. He admitted he was attracted to me from the first day of meeting in college, but I was clueless. I was so caught up in my failing relationship with Mark that I was unable to receive, much less interpret the non-verbal messages Djembe was sending my way. I worked diligently at maintaining my focus on my family and my goals to complete my degree.

He was studying to become a pharmacist. I studied for entry into the medical assistant program. Our professor Dr. Cohn was a comedian who’d missed his calling. Settling as chair of the Biological Sciences department at Long Island University, he performed academic stand-up routines in place of Chemistry lectures. I had a seemingly good rapport with Dr. Cohn and often visited his office to discuss my future career goals. He’d advised me that medicine was a great field to get into however, a vigorous one for a young, full-time employed mother. I had much to consider and although I had a passion for medicine, there wouldn’t be enough room for the medical assistant program, the full-time job and the family. I had to make some major decisions and soon.

Djembe came from a similar background as mine. We were both children of Caribbean parents and had multiple siblings. That was only the beginning of what we would share. We were also passionate about being in love. How we met? We met in Chemistry class. I know, ironic right? Nearing the close of the Fall semester, a fellow classmate, Tessa, approached me. She pulled me aside and told me that Djembe was interested and wanted to make contact. I thought she was joking but she was serious. She went further to inform me that he is a great man and that I needed to pay attention. I wasn’t sure why Tessa was so adamant about hooking me up with him but I just responded with “ok.”

After my encounter with Tessa, I became more conscious of the stares and the burning eyes on my neck from the rear of the classroom. On the last day of class, Djembe came over to me and offered to give me a ride home. Home was the apartment I shared with Shawn’s father. It was cold and although I probably shouldn’t have accepted the ride, I knew I didn’t want to ride the train and then take that long walk from the station. With that in mind, I kindly accepted.

I told him the area I lived and he assured me he knew exactly where to go. I’d find out later he meant that in more ways than one. We walked to his car and talked about how we think we did on the final. I already knew there was a slight chance that I’d failed and somehow, I wasn’t worried about it. He insisted he did just alright and probably should’ve done better.

On the drive, he stopped at a bodega. He returned with an endearing cup of peppermint tea. I was smitten. Djembe paid attention to detail. He noticed that I arrived to class late, always with a cup of peppermint tea in hand. His notice of that made me smile.

I had Djembe drop me a block from my building. I didn’t want anyone to see me exiting his vehicle. Mark would not understand that it was just a ride and nothing else. Djembe offered his number and email and urged that we keep in touch. He seemed sincere and I was already drawn in. I accepted his information and gave him mine. Nothing happened that night but I had a feeling that something might if we saw each other again especially outside of the classroom.

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I laughed so hard, I cried and eventually peed myself! The walk home from school was always the best. Rhondah was my best friend and I was hers. I can’t remember what we were discussing, maybe something that happened in one of her classes. I kept begging her to stop. “Rhonda, for real! Stop!” My plea egged her on. She got a thrill out of seeing me folded over  in laughter. I loved to laugh, still do, but not to the point of wet embarrassment. I ran the three blocks home but made it only to reach the front patch of grass where I warmly sprinkled the yellow dandelions. There’s something about getting closer to the bathroom when having to pee that allows the house keys to strangely “disappear” into the endless hole that is your book-bag.

Middle School was tough. It wasn’t like elementary school. It required more independence. It wasn’t the smoothest transition for me but I did know most of my fellow students. We came from the same elementary school. Rhonda wasn’t from my elementary school though. I don’t know what school she went to before then. I don’t even remember how we met, but I can’t remember those school days without her.

There were a lot of  things I learned about myself during those adolescent years. What stands out the most are the relationships I had with my friends. And also what you learn to require and  provide as a friend. We go through stages and some do better than others with maintaining their friendships. I know during the school-days stages of my  life, I noticed my friends changed. When I left middle school, I cultivated a new set of friends. The same as when I left high school and started college.

Some friends have managed to whither the storms of these numerous changes. Others accept that we have played the necessary roles needed at the time and have mutually agreed to move on without the other. I think often of the friends I’ve had and currently have and I realize that each one has served some purpose in my development as a person.

I only hope that I’ve done the same for them.

 

Sandyversary

It’s a little over a year since Hurricane Sandy hit. I knew the storm was coming but didn’t anticipate it would devastate my life routine the way it did. In fact, I’m still recovering from it. It isn’t something I really want to discuss but the recovery is one of the events that has kept me from the responsibilities of my blog. So I need to address this before it’s a year till my next post.

I stayed with a friend for a few weeks. I lived in a hotel for a few months. Then I rented a room in Brooklyn for a few more months. I eventually moved back to Far Rockaway. It wasn’t easy….and it still isn’t. The storm did many things though. It humbled the shit out of me for one. It provoked that “get up and go” that was necessary to get things done. My apartment wasn’t going to clean itself. But most importantly, it showed me who people really are.

In short, my apartment was flooded out. The night of the storm, I was home and watched the Jamaica Bay enter from my living room and into the rest of the apartment. Because I don’t know how to swim, I was afraid to leave my apartment. It was a long night and an even longer year afterwards. There was water damage and I was not prepared. My biggest loss was my kitchen and my treasured library.

I realized that there are people I take for granted and there are people who take me for granted. I think the way people responded to me was a reflection of how they see me. There were offers from people I hadn’t spoken to in months, even years. Some people I hadn’t even known that well were offering their homes to me. The friend that I ended up staying with had a key for me to come and go as I needed. When I sat with my friend and her sister to discuss my financial obligation for staying there, they both got up and walked away from me. The idea of accepting money from me was considered an insult. There were also people who reached out and extended themselves to me by way of offering items to keep us going – clothes, food, a ride, etc.

I’m saying all of this to say that you never know where and when things might happen and when devastation might hit you and those that are close to you. And with all of that, it helps to know there are people in this world who remain genuine and true to the purpose of humanity.

What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police

stop and friskI’ve been meaning to post this since my son had his encounter with the police last summer and since Wednesdays are notorious for cops to meet quotas, I’m posting it now. This is public information taken from a card distributed by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). When all else fails, always say “I do not consent to this search.” See below…

Know Your Rights!

  1. What you say to the police is always important. Everything you say can be used against you.
  2. You have the right not to speak. To exercise this right, you should tell the police, “I would like to remain silent.”
  3. You never have to consent to a search of yourself, your belongings, your car or your house. If you do consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they don’t, say “I do not consent to this search.” Police cannot arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search. This may not stop the search from happening, but it will protect your rights if you have to go to court.
  4. Do not interfere with our obstruct the police – you can be arrested for it.

If You Are Stopped, Questioned And/Or Frisked:

  1. Police may stop and briefly detain you only if there is reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing or are about to commit a crime.
  2. You should as if you are under arrest or free to leave.
  3. In New York, you are not required to carry ID, and you don’t have to show ID to a police officer. If you are issued a summons or arrested, however, and you refuse to produce ID or ell officers who you are, the police may detain you until you can be positively identified.
  4. If police reasonably suspect you pose a danger to them or others, they may pat down your outer clothing. This is called a frisk. Don’t physically resist, but say “I do not consent to this search.”
  5. If an officer asks you to empty your pockets – even if the officer says you won’t get in trouble – don’t do it. Say, “I do not consent to this search.” If the officer reaches into your pockets or your bag, this is called a search.
  6. Don’t bad-mouth a police officer or run away, even if you believe what is happening is unfair. That could lead to your arrest.

If You Are Stopped In Your Car

  1. Upon request, show the police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant. To protect yourself later, you should state that you do not consent to a search.
  2. If you’re suspected of drunk driving (DWI), you will be asked to take a breath-alcohol and coordination test. If you fail the tests, or if you refuse to take them, you will be arrested, your driver’s license may be suspended and your car may be taken away.
  3. If you are arrested, your car will be subject to a search.

If Police Come To Your Home

  1. The police can enter your home without your permission if they have a warrant or if it is an emergency. If the police say they have a warrant, ask to see it. Check to make sure the warrant has the correct address.
  2. If you are arrested in your home or office, the police can search you and the area immediately surrounding you or where evidence of criminal activity is in plain view.

If You Are Arrested Or Taken To A Police Station:

  1. You have the right to remain silent and the right to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Don’t tell the police anything except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
  2. If you have a lawyer, ask to see your lawyer immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a free one once your case goes to court. You can ask the police how to contact a lawyer. Don’t say anything to police without speaking to a lawyer first.
  3. Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, you should ask the police to contact a family member or friend. If you are permitted to make a phone call, anything you say at the precinct may be recorded or listened to. Never talk about the facts of your case over the telephone.
  4. Do not make any decisions in your case or sign any statements until you have talked with a lawyer.

What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police

  • Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and emotions.
  • Don’t get into an argument with the police.
  • Never bad-mouth a police officer.
  • Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.
  • Keep your hands where the police can see them.
  • Don’t run.
  • Don’t touch any police officer.
  • Don’t resist even if you believe you are innocent.
  • If you complain at the scene, or tell the police they’re wrong, do so in a non-confrontational way that will not intensify the scene.
  • Do not make any statements regarding the incident.
  • If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately.
  • Remember officers’ badge numbers, patrol car numbers and physical descriptions.
  • Write down everything your remember ASAP.
  • Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers.
  • If you are injured, take photos of the injuries as soon as possible, but make sure you get medical attention first. Ask for copies of your medical treatment files.

To File A Police Misconduct Complaint: Contact The Civilian Complaint Review Board By Calling 311 or By Visiting www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb.

My Dungeon Really Shook

Friday, November 23, 2012,  I read a post on twitter about the Central Park Five and I started to randomly search for anything that might have been written about it. I’d heard about a documentary coming out some time ago but had forgotten about it because I hadn’t heard anything else for months. I found the documentary’s trailer on YouTube and started researching Sarah Burns who had written a book about the case. I went to The Strand website to see if they had any copies as the book was released earlier in the year (2012). The Strand had only one copy listed in their inventory. That really meant one copy or more likely, none.

This was going to be a stretch but I figured it couldn’t hurt to check to see if there was truly a copy available. I didn’t mind searching as I love visiting The Strand because I always leave with something new to read, anyway. I made it to the bookstore and offered one of the specialists my printout of the book details, making sure to point out that “the computer says y’all have one copy available.” The specialist was very helpful and ushered me over to the law and criminal justice area. I looked through and couldn’t find it. I was determined to find this one copy and I had to have looked at those shelves for about 40 minutes before giving up.

I started to walk off but then went back. I went through each book by tapping them to make sure I wasn’t rushing and missing the book out of haste. All of a sudden, there it was. It was there. I found it! A single copy of The Central Park Five by Sarah Burns was sitting in between 2 larger books which was probably why I had missed it.

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I remember this case profoundly because my father had always said those boys hadn’t done it. My parents both followed the case and purchased The Amsterdam News religiously to follow the commentaries on what everyone was saying about it. I was about 11 or so but I distinctly remembered this case because one of the boys on trial had the same name as my own brother, Yusuf.

Like everyone who followed and knew that the convictions had been vacated in 2002, we were excited and happy for the five men. But at the same time, there was a bitterness. These boys had spent time in jail, and suffered under a scrutiny that wasn’t theirs. What about the others who are in jail for something they hadn’t done?

The night that I purchased the book, I made my way to West 4th to catch the A to Queens. As I’m waiting on the platform, The E train pulls up and I see a familiar face exit the train. It was Yusef Salaam. He was walking with Sarah Burns, and Kevin Richardson and Antron McCray were walking behind them. I looked around to see if anyone else saw or even realized what I was seeing and who these people were. Standing there dumbfounded, I watched the group make their way to the turnstiles. It was only after I watched them exit, did I consider that I should have said something or even asked for my brand new book to be signed. It didn’t occur to me that the documentary was showing that night at the IFC theater and that they would be giving a Q and A session. Made sense.

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I finally went to see the documentary a few weeks later. As a mother of a promising young black man and even as a sister to black men, this documentary hit home. I watched the video footage of the confessions and I just felt sick to my stomach. Even I could see that something wasn’t right with those confessions. While watching the documentary I kept thinking of how adamant my parents were about those boys not committing that crime. It all made sense.

When I finally reached my parent’s house, I told my mother about seeing them and almost wanting to cry to see that they were free and that their story was being told. They were the lucky ones, believe it or not. They actually lived to see the truth come out. It was so overwhelming that I told everyone that would listen. I even text a friend on the train ride home about it. His response was – “stop texting me and go write it down.” I couldn’t write it at that time though. I was afraid of awakening similar emotions of when I had to visit my own brother in jail.

I have the book still but I haven’t read it yet. Honestly, I’m afraid to read it. It’s a true horror story that could have been any of my own beloved brothers. There were moments when my mother and I had to do the jail visits and it was always heartbreaking. No matter how many jokes we made at that plastic table, when the CO came by and tapped the table, that’s when my heart would break. And instead of being strong for my mother, she always had to calm me down because I didn’t want to leave my brother there.

These realities make it difficult for me as a mother to release my own son into the world. As parents, we always feel like we know better. Instead of hovering over my son though, I try to show him these cases – The Central Park Five, Yusef Hawkins, Amadou Diallo, etc, so that he is aware and so he can know that these are not stories to scare him but for him to be aware that this world is not nice to everyone, especially his kind. As a black man, he has to always be prepared. As a result of seeing the documentary, I have truly considered keeping a lawyer on retainer just because. This can’t be life though….

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