I Recently Conversed With an Intriguing Young Man. It Gave Me a Birds Eye View 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 those stereotypes are well deserved. Most educators and school support staff are drained by (so called) experts using demographics and home-life as an excuse for one’s barbaric behavior. Also, pacifying them for their minimal self-drive to break their generational underachieving life cycle.
I encountered a remarkable 19 year old high school grad that wanted to share just a portion of his childhood. He believes that his story may shed light on what the youth battle on a day-to-day basis. Some situations are more life altering 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 concealed 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. He also moonlighted as a mechanic. He stood about 6’0′ 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 barely made it through Middle School. He was an intelligent guy. He just didn’t like being told what to do. Dad was also an adulterer, and a wife beater. Some say he harbored demons that weren’t exorcised. It was evident 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. This ordeal forced my mom into labor. Hello world! I’m here!!
“As soon as my dad walked out the door, she pointed a shotgun in his face, “If you ever touch him again while you’ve been drinking, I’ll 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. He was extremely intoxicated, smelling like perfume, and mom yelling, cursing, and hitting him. Soon after her yells fade out, turning into cries, with endless tears. I can remember her sobbing voice, “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. They’re fighting again! I’m pulling, scratching and clawing 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 she pointed a shotgun in his face, “If you ever touch him again while you’ve been drinking, I’ll 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. Man, I really embraced it.
I can remember him disappearing occasionally. Sometimes, for months at a time. I didn’t know where he was. I just recall my mom taking me to a fence, pointing him out to me, as she yelled his name. I suppose that was jail.
At the age of 7 we moved out our house into the projects. This wasn’t beneficial for me 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, forcing 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. They forced me to have sex with girls that were a little older than me. Good thing for me, we didn’t reside there long. My parents split up going 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, 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,“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. I guess I spoke upon deaf ears. He grabbed the phone out of my hand,“If you don’t take me back, I will do this until I die.” I watched in horror as he finished the glass. 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 a 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 instantly, yelling, “I’m not listing to that foolishness today!” I supposed that spun him for a loop, so he altered his plans. He turned to me, “Go to the neighbor’s house and ask them if I shoot myself will they take me to the hospital.” As the tears flowed from my face, 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. While standing 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 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. 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!!!” Before 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, 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. In that moment, I could care less about your lecture and weekly standards. I know I may exhaust you, but please don’t give up on me.
As the young man revealed his story, I looked at him in total disbelief. I lingered on every word he uttered. I know demographics and home life are often used to justify certain behaviors, or not being relentless for success. Educators have a legitimate gripe. I’m not disputing it. In several cases it’s very much true. I’m merely stating it may take someone a tad bit longer to be receptive to what you’re feeding them. I don’t think their drive is nonexistence. It’s just in neutral, needing a dream, with the right person to ignite it. This is only one child’s story…there are thousands more. It may be difficult to continuously pell back layers to reach them. However, they do want more in life. So, please don’t give up on them so soon!