Yes, Sirree—It’s Scandalous!
Given 186,400 seconds of life per day, how well do you savor it?
As a voracious reader, I inhale print materials such as books, magazines, pamphlets, and periodicals. Reading is my favorite pastime. It’s enjoyable, relaxing, entertaining, as well as, intellectually rewarding and stimulating. I just can’t live without reading something!
However, reading newspapers has the opposite effect. It often leaves me in despair.
Regardless of the geography—-northern, southern, eastern, or even in the pristine western parts of the United States, I am bombarded with newspaper articles that report the sensationalism of homicides, suicides, stabbings, domestic/gang/workplace violence, fights, robberies, burglaries, drug sales, and other mayhem that is often perpetrated by black males!
Needless to say, I am often left dispirited, dishearten, and despondent.
Glancing over the list of criminalities made me reflect upon the times when I was forced to steal in order to feed me and my siblings. Typical of most males, my dad, upon his divorce, shirked his responsibilities in ensuring that his kids had a proper supplementary diet. In other words——enough food to eat!
Although mom was gainfully employed, her meager salary was never enough to provide us with an adequate or balanced meal. Seemingly, it was always more “month than money” at my house.
Without hesitation, I came to the family’s rescue. At the tender age of ten, “shopping” at neighborhood stores became my modus operandi as I “swiped” and “stashed” and “stole” anything that was eatable.
At twelve, I “weaseled” my way into the confidences of an “illiterate” janitor. In addition to being the school’s custodian, he was also responsible for emptying the coins from the vending machines.
I wonder if he ever learned of the daily pilferage from his most “trusted” helper. Regardless, my thievery enabled us an opportunity to eat one more time!
Systemic poverty, desperation, coupled with a pitiful existence eventually deadened my emotions and conscience which enabled me to ratchet up my crime spree beyond the school’s walls and stores’ shelves and into the cash register of a local laundromat.
How I escaped detection, arrest, juvenile detention, jail, or prison is still beyond my comprehension. There’s no doubt in my mind, I should have had a lengthy “rap” sheet.
Brazen at thirteen, I again upped the ante from stealing from the food aisles to stealing from the clothing racks. What other options does a child have if she and her sisters didn’t own any under garments, socks, shoes, coats, and clothes to fit a growing body?
“Care packages” from my paternal grandmother were a welcomed relief but they only arrived twice a year—-birthdays and Christmas.
Consequently, I kept stealing!
As dire hunger followed me into my fourteenth year, I set my sights on working at a restaurant—for obvious reasons. Unbeknownst to management, this restaurant “secretly” became the “food pantry” for my family as we ravenously ate hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and through the store’s profits. Heck, it’s a miracle that this eatery maintained solvency during that time!
Empty pockets meant a lack of heat and hot water during the blistery, unforgiving, wintry months. Empty pockets also meant a lack of air conditioning in the scorching, hot, and suffocating summer months. In either case, these sad conditions compelled me to entertain escalating my criminal activities to the next level—- burglary!
Often recall countless days when I would “case” my neighbors’ homes only to wither in shame upon receiving letters from my paternal grandmother. Each letter was filled with pages and pages and pages of biblical scriptures, inspirational stories, and her constant reminders of just how much she and Jesus loved me. Did God give her a “sixth sense” about my rapid decline into sin and debauchery?
Nevertheless, thank you, God, for grandma’s hands!
Yes, sirree—-it’s scandalous!
It’s scandalous that parents practice amnesia by abandoning their children and their parental obligations and responsibilities.
It’s scandalous that innocent children must revert to a life of crime in order to thrive or survive.
It’s scandalous how hunger often drives children to commit unthinkable acts!
It’s scandalous that parents would “make” babies without the forethought or afterthought of providing provisions for their lives such as giving them food, shelter, clothing, and other basics for their health, nourishment, development, and growth.
It’s scandalous that parents would “dump” their kids on unsuspecting relatives or at the Department of Children’s and Families agency without further concern or care.
It’s scandalous that parents verbally, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and sexually abuse their kids.
It’s scandalous that so many children are rejected, marginalized, traumatized, and maligned.
It’s scandalous that children exist in toxic environments that introduces them to resentment, hostility, and the “balls and chains” of defeat.
It’s scandalous that parents squander and shun opportunities to develop precious relationships with their kids.
It’s scandalous that parents fail to remember that parenting is a life-time commitment filled with sacrifices and struggles—not selfishness!
It’s scandalous that only a few people care.
How did I avoid being scandalous?
It wasn’t because I was especially smart, slick, or skillful.
It was because my guardian angels, my earth angels, as well as, my praying grandmother read God’s eternal newspaper (Bible) and were convinced that this broken, used, abused, neglected, despised, unloved, rejected, and abandoned little girl was predestined to defy all odds by finding an honorable way to make it!