Who will rep my people?
I grew up poor.
My notebooks were filled with my wishes and desires. As soon as I learned how to write, I wrote. A diary, a journal, a poem, a novel, a play. My mom was a "single" mother in the sense that my step father was addicted to drugs when he came back from being overseas. There were days I would come home and there would be nothing in the house. He would never steal my stuff, or my sister's stuff. He had some morals. He was a good man, the drugs just took his mind.
My father is a good man. His problem was alcohol. His problem is still alcohol. but he loved me and he tried.
But we were *poor*. My mother opted to spend the majority of her paycheck so that we had a decent house to live in. But that's all we had was that house. So I'd write stories and poems, filled with my wishes and desires. I would describe in great detail the beautiful clothes, the dope hair styles, the car I would have if I were rich. My best friend read my stories once and said I was a good writer. Then she says "You always describe dope ass outfits in your stories, why don't you dress like that?"
At 13 how do you explain to your best friend that those three pair of jeans "you always wearing" are the ONLY jeans you have. That those one pair of Nikes that your grandma bought are the only shoes. That you read SO MUCH because books were the only thing you could afford. A book was $4 and a video game was $50. I was on free lunch my whole time in school. I'd come home to an empty refrigerator, no lights, no water at times...and we'd go to my grandma's house to eat and bathe. My grandmother told me last year "I don't know how you survived that life Stephanie, I would have died." And I want to cry, because all I could do was survive.
That's why I can't leave. I don't live in the best place in Baltimore. I hear gunshots at night, I hear people screaming, children cursing, mice and ants. I always say the Lord found favor in me, I lucked up and got a full scholarship to college. That was the ONLY way I was going to college. I remember getting accepted to Howard and crying because I couldn't afford the tuition and they offered me a partial scholarship but I still couldn't afford it. When I graduated from high school, I had been working since I was 13 years old and had less than $200 in the bank. We used the money to bury a loved one who died.
And sometimes at night, I sit in my house and cry. No one knows my struggle and it's overwhelming at times. Especially when I am at work and hear how people think about the "ghetto" or "minorities". We are not animals. We are people. Broken people.
But I love nothing more than to see the little girls across the street "keep smiling and shining". This is where I belong I feel at times. No matter how hard it is.