I had a conversation with a young man and it led to a lot of enlightening insight into the mind of a generation many think is lost.
Today’s African American youth have been given such a bad rap. However, a lot of stereotypes are very well deserved. Most educators and school support staff are tired of individuals using demographics and home-life as an excuse for one’s barbaric behavior, along with minimal self-drive to break their generational underachieving life cycle.
I encountered this remarkable 19 year old high school grad that wanted to share just a portion of his childhood. He believes that his story may give you more insight into what the youth battle with on a day-to-day basis. Some situations are more exceptional than others. Who are we to decide which is which? Individuals handle circumstances differently.
He starts his story with a description of his parents.
My Mother is a very sweet lady, standing about 5’2″ weighing 120lbs. She may have been small in stature, but garnered a very explosive temper. She earned a high school diploma a few days before she gave birth to my oldest brother. My Mom had a common industrial job with very long hours.
My Father was a foreman and a mechanic. He stood about 6’ tall weighing 185lbs. People always said he was a great guy… well until!!! He had a bit of a drinking problem. In fact when he wasn’t working he was drinking. My dad never graduated high school. To be honest, dad didn’t make it through Middle School. He was also an adulterer and a wife beater. Some say he harbored demons that weren’t exorcised, and they haunted him until the day he died.
I was born in the heart of winter, February 7th. The funny thing about this is I was expected to be born April 30th. Things don’t go always as planned. My parents had a slight altercation. My mom caught my father with another woman in a car having sex. They exchanged blows along with verbal threats, before my mom sped off crying uncontrollably. She didn’t make it far before she was forced down a slippery bank by the lady she had just assaulted. The car crash immediately sent my mother into labor. Hello world I’m here!!
“As soon as my dad walked out the door she placed a shotgun in his face saying, “If you ever touch him again while you’ve been drinking, I will take you out this world.””
I’m sure I had fun as a young child, I just don’t vividly remember most of it. The things I do remember are unbecoming of a child. I remember my father coming home after a late night extremely intoxicated smelling like women’s perfume, and my mother yelling, cursing, and hitting him. Soon after that my mom’s yells fade out, turning into cries, with endless tears. I can remember her sobbing voice saying “you said you’ll never hit me again, you lied to me, you lied to me!” I can remember being five years old running to my mother’s rescue because they’re fighting again. Pulling, scratching and clawing on dad relentlessly until he channeled his aggression toward me. Striking me to the floor with his hand, it felt like I was hit by a brick. I then called my grandmother to inform her of the warpath my father was on. Soon after the call, my grandmother pulled up to our house blowing her horn. As soon as my dad walked out the door she placed a shotgun in his face saying, “If you ever touch him again while you’ve been drinking, I will take you out this world.” I can remember being 6 years old wanting to be just like my father. So I picked up some of his habits. It wasn’t long before I was running around the neighborhood smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, and I embraced it. I can remember him disappearing occasionally, sometimes for months at a time. At that time I really didn’t know where he was, all I knew was my mom taking me to a fence pointing him out to me yelling his name. I suppose that was jail.
At the age of 7 we moved out our house into the projects, this wasn’t beneficial at all. My life path was already on fast track for prison or an early grave. My very first day there all the kids my age surrounded me, then forced me to fight whoever wanted to fight me. A few months later I was introduced to “grown up things”. I was trapped inside an apartment by teenage kids, then forced to have sex with girls that were a little older than me. Good thing for me we weren’t there long. My parents split up then went their separate ways.
I thought that was what my father wanted, it seemed as though he didn’t respect their marriage anyway. After a few visits seeing him, I noticed something was seriously wrong with him. He began to talk about getting back with my mother a lot…in fact all the time. Then one day he called me to the phone and said, “Tell your mom what I’m about to do.” I was totally confused until I saw him pick up a normal drinking glass, then fill it with rat poison and water. I begged him not to drink it, but spoke upon deaf ears. He grabbed the phone out of my hand and said, “If you don’t take me back, I will do this until I die.” He continued the same process every visit, for months. I cried and cried, I guess it didn’t matter to him if he ruins me mentally or not.
“His next words were, “I said go and ask them will they take me to the hospital if I shoot myself!!!””
The summer after my 9th birthday was the last time visiting my father for an long extended period of time. Soon after I arrived at his place he began drinking. Then he offered to take me outside to shoot a few a rounds from his shotgun. After about an hour of shooting targets we re-entered the house. My dad drank more and more. The more he consumed, the more he talked about my mother. I said to myself, “Here he goes again”, about to drink that poison. He called my mom, she hung up on him instantly, yelling, “I not listing to that foolishness today!” I supposed that spun him for a loop so he altered his plans. He turned to me and asked, Go to the neighbor’s house and ask them if I shoot myself would they take me to the hospital. As the tears tears flowed from my face, as I pleaded with him not to talk like that, and how much he scared me. As I cried he yelled at me to go to do what he instructed me to do. As I stood at the front door I looked back at him as he stood in kitchen pointing a 12-gauge shotgun at his chest. I jumped out the front door with a message that I had to deliver. They lived right next door, but it seemed it took forever to get there. Finally I get there, I didn’t waste any time blurting it out. “My dad said, my dad said, will u take him to the hospital if he shoots himself?” The neighbor told me to tell my dad to quit scaring me and put that gun away. I ran home to tell my dad what was said, hoping he listened to message I gave him. He didn’t listen at all. At that point he had this cold glare in his eyes, and his drunken slurs were riddled with hurt and pain. His next words were, “I said go and ask them will they take me to the hospital if I shoot myself!!!” By the time I could open the door, the room was filled with a glass shattering bang. I glanced at my dad as he fell to the floor as blood filled the kitchen walls. I ran to him. The closer I got to him, the more gruesome the scene became. I called 9-1-1 as my life changed forever.
Just keep this in mind. Maybe I don’t have ADHD, maybe I don’t have a learning disability, and maybe I don’t need Adderall to focus. Maybe every time I blink my eyes I see my father’s spleen and intestines all over his kitchen walls, while you’re lecturing today’s weekly standards. I know I may exhaust you, but please don’t give up on me.
As the young man told me his story I looked at him in total disbelief. I lingered on every word that he uttered. I know demographics and home life are often used to attempt to justify certain behaviors and not being driven enough to succeed. I’m not saying it’s always those factors are always the case. I’m saying it may take someone a little longer to be receptive to what you’re trying to give them. I don’ think their drive is gone, it’s just in neutral, needing a dream and the right person to ignite it. This is only one child’s story…there are thousands more. It may be difficult to unleash it, however they do want more in life. So, please don’t give up on them so soon.