two teenage best friends are violently slaughtered by a 16 year old juvenile because he needs to join a gang.
The 7:45 bell, at P.L. Morgan for the gifted, sirens throughout the quietly noisy hall, crowded with kids stretching and yawning and gossiping from breakfast. Teenagers, all dressed in appropriate school colors of black bottoms and purple & silver tops, push and shove and dodge one another, like scurrying gazelles, to get to class.
Fickle Mrs. Foster begins her History class promptly at 7:50.
‘To Know and Tell’ will be the time of reflection on this Black History month which we observe the creative energies put forth by our literary and creative ancestors, the blackboard reads.
Mrs. Foster taps the edge of her semi-circular glass desk, which is crowded with graded and to-be-graded stacks, a LOVE mug, a picture of her family and her Holy Bible, to get the attention of Ariel Jackson, Cooper Greene and Darnel Johnson, the class cut-ups, with her wooden pointing wand, "May we begin young men."
All eyes are focused on Valary Dean as she stands at the podium to deliver her presentation, in the auditorium-style classroom, on the month’s topic: Ancestor-ship.
Dressed in complementing garments, I begin; "Phillis Wheatley. First recognized African American poet. A child without a name arrives in Boston, Massachusetts July 11, 1761. No one knows her age because she spoke no English when she’s snatched from her family in Africa and brought to American soil and sold as a slave. Said of Susanna Wheatley, that she was swayed by her modest demeanor and interesting features of the ‘little stranger’. John Wheatley paid John Avery about 10 pounds sterling for the sickly child. Phillis was named after the slave ship that brought her to American soil. As her interesting life struggles on, she studies Geography, Astronomy and Ancient History.
At twelve she discovers her love and gift for rhyming words; thus began her life as a poetess. Exhaling to continue.
This is the poem I wrote in respect of Phillis Wheatley.
Wrestling the microphone from its stand, stepping in front of the four foot high podium, tipping herself close into the audience; and quietly "The date has always been not known, since all history knew was, Senegambia, West Africa was her native home.
Bought by John Wheatley, although she was sick and meekly.
Susanna loved her for my size, not knowing she was an undiscovered literary prize.
Her first collection was published in London, after successful visits throughout England,
her words and thoughts from her own mind and hand, she lived spiritually rich in no-woman’s land.
Many from various royal bloodlines had to meet her, Phillis Wheatley,
for she scripted free woman’s literature, although I started off bought, uneducated and meekly.
She wrote to George Washington, and yes, Mr. President wrote her back.
She accepted his personal invitation to the White House, sat together in a warm room with him,
what a historical fact.
Married John Peters, a freed black man, and left nothing from the beloved Wheatley clan,
died December 5th, 1784 in a poor man’s land, with unscripted poems in my head and hand. Thank you."
Valary Dean takes her chair through the hoots and hollers, clapping and snapping.
Wynita glides to the podium, through the applauding students, patting Valary on her back in passing, like a G-Unit model, to give her presentation; ‘My turn’ smiling, under her snobbish breath. She clears her throat to get the attention she feels she so deserves.
"Booker T. Washington never knew his exact date of birth because at the time African Americans and or slaves were not privy to their dates of birth and such important information plus the birth of slaves were not recorded because they were not important enough to be cared about plus slaves died so often it probably wasn’t worth the time, exchanging her stance from I’m-way-to-sexy-for-this to they'd-better-be-paying-me-attention. Booker had to begin working at age five fanning flies from his master’s table, something I would never do, during mealtimes because it was against the law for blacks to get an education. Freedom was suppose to come at last in 1863 when Lincoln supposedly freed all the slaves in the South, which is still left up to debate. Booker only knew his first name so when his teacher ask him his last, he immediately made up one and said; deepening my voice without messing up my thick cherry lip gloss. ‘Washington, Booker Washington is my name.’ The class roars. Because there was a better school some 500 miles away poor Booker was forced to hop trains, beg for rides and sleep on the ground, something I’d never do."
"Wynita dear can you just get through your report without all the arrogances honey" Mrs. Foster admonishes, with one hand on her thin hip.
"Sure, respectfully waving her off; whatever. He is determined not to turn back. When he arrived, he was told, putting one hand on her hip and pointing a finger, ‘There’s no room in this school for you.’ He had to think of something quick, so he got permission to clean the classroom to have something to eat every day. After seeing how diligently he worked at cleaning the classes Miss Mackie re-decided, ‘There is an opening.’ He was hired as the janitor and thus worked his way through school, which is something I’m so glad I don’t have to do, smirking. Okay, okay, I know. Upon graduation from Hampton School, Booker decides that he must help his brother John and sister Amanda become educated; pausing, looking at Mrs. Foster and dying to say something smart mouth. Years later when a school in Tuskegee, Alabama was in need of a principal, his name was raved, so he accepted his new job. There were no individual classrooms as we have or school materials.
His first class, July 4th, 1881, was in a church with 30 illiterate and ignorant black children of various ages; he wore the Principal/Teacher hat. Miss Olivia Davidson was hired as a second school teacher later becoming his second wife, whom would die in a supposedly un-escapable fire.
His school building was built, financed and maintained by dedicated families and devoted friends. They grew their own food to eat because they had no cafeteria. Wynita again pauses for effect and to rest her hate-to-be-used-for-anything-other-than-selecting-makeup brain. Married three times: Fannie Smith, daughter Portia. Olivia Davidson, sons Booker Jr. and Ernest Davidson. Marries Margaret Murray October 12, 1892.
Here’s an excerpt from Booker T. Washington’s speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition, and it went like this. She sips from her water glass, and in her best male voice, ‘The races could be as separate as the fingers on a hand in all social things, but when the country was in need the races work together. Build your own houses so you won’t be homeless. Learn to farm and take care of your own animals and you’ll never go hungry!’ Afterwards Booker T. Washington became the most powerful black leader of that time; and now it’s Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and the black like; I’m coming.
Here’s my poem; Booker T. Washington was a great and notable man,
scratched and scuffed to stack his hand, one which he displayed in an awesome way, via his educational legacy, which is here to stay; Thank you" flouncing from the podium as if the stars were lighting a path especially for her.
"My turn, my turn, AnnaMaria yells in her best English. He’s not man of color or creed but he is in culture. Come" motioning to the four friends she’s chosen to help perfect her presentation. They position themselves with picket signs, weaving themselves in back of AnnaMaria,
"Cesar Chavez, The Cause, Cesar Chavez, La Causa" Pedro, Jorge, Jaime and Tomas chant.
"La Causa led struggle for human rights and dignity of migrant and farm workers. Cesario Estrada Chavez named for his grandfather, Papa Chavez was slave in Chihuahua, Mexico until he escape and cross border to United States in 1880s. Cesar learn by doing everything Papa Chavez did, who lived to 100, AnnaMaria explains her third language. Cesar’s mother was no educated. She wise. She told him very good consejos, advice. She taught him about no violence, no fighting, not to make war. She would tell him, ‘lleva dos para pelar, uno no lo puede haser solo’. Chavez thought it was honorable to stand for the rights, rights of others. En un ano a migrant worker gano solo a meager $300 dolares. The barrios were tiny and dirty and cramp; up to twelve people live in un cuarto, one room. No bathrooms, no sewers, no electric or water running, what we have. Most children of migrant workers never finish the grade six. Cesar graduated grade 8 at 15. At 17 Cesar joined the NAVY; soon he had a familia of his own to care for the honor of. Cesar leo libros y aprendio dela ley. Soon he assisted the CSO who can assist farm workers get food, better housing, medical and legal. September 23, 1962, National Farm Workers Association was found in Fresno, California; and LA CAUSA was born!"
Her heart-felt rise was as effective as an Opera singer’s finish. All the students stand and roar ‘La Causa, The Cause, La Causa, The Cause’; even those who didn’t know what she was talking about.
Her assistants continue rotating their picket signs and shouting, ‘Huelgo! Huelgo! Strike! Strike! Huelgo! Strike, Strike!’ as they took their seats.
"Robert Kennedy love him. Martin Luther King Jr. love him. Both support the La Causa boycotts. Cesar fasted 25 days and walk 70 miles for La Causa with threats for him; refusing to quit, they march and they pray and keep great faith."
Jose stands at his desk and in his best Cesar Chavez imitation "I am the father of La Causa. Yo creo en la dignidad, la justicia, y derechos, humanidad dela gente; I believe in dignity, justice and human rights of all people, especially the poor" thrusting his tiny fist into the air; the mighty champion Cesar Chavez was.
Twenty more presentations come and go.
"You all did an exceptional job on your presentation, Mrs. Foster boasts. Next month’s topic will be ‘Use it or lose it- Divine Gifts’. I want everyone to read but the presentations will be given by Juanita, Tanisha, Jessie, Philippa, Jessica, James, Farmer, Aundrea, Wynita and Darnel. Here are the authors and story titles. Critique a presentation. Everybody has a pen I presume; I’m only saying this once. Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am by Evelyn Coleman, Flimsy and Raggedly by Phil Duck, Queen by Cheryl Floyd-Miller, Back Then by Michael P. Fuller, Young Ballers by Tracy Grant, The day Chano Died by Nancy Pardon and That Nigger’s Crazy by Omar Tyree. Class dismissed right as the bell rings.
At 5:30, "Sorry I’m running late. How’s everybody doing" Kanisha greets as she falls through the back door into the various shades of yellows and creams decorating the elegant dining room, where her family is getting ready to sit down to another one of Mrs. William’s new menus, in order for the Mr. and Mrs. to finish in time to catch the next showing of After Earth with Will Smith; 8 o’clock.
"Fine girl baby. How are you? Where’s your right hand" her father jokes, distributing polished silverware from his seated position at the dining table.
"She just went in. I’ma’ call her in a minute to let her know I got in all right" trying to soften my labored breathing.
"Can’t she look out her door over here…" Wynita attempts.
"What’s up with you acting all rattled" Mr. William asks, picking up on the uneasiness in her voice.
"Nothing really, just some crazy things been going on."
"Well tell. What’s going on."
I drop my bulging blue & beige 10 zipper backpack to the yellow-tiled floor, walk around the table to kiss my mom, who’s prepping a seven-item salad, on her soft, blushed cheek and to push my sister’s, who’s applying lip gloss to her dark, full lips, shoulder. "We stopped by Rios’ Corner store to see Darius, this boy in my English class that I think Sable will like. This burgundy car was following us."
"How do you know it was following y’all" Wynita fires.
"Because we were in the store close to an hour waiting on D and when we came out the same car was still there, engine running. When we all got in Darius’ car and pulled off so did the burgundy car. That’s how I know." Wynita annoyingly clears her throat.
"That’s what you get for trying to be a hot momma" she shoots.
"You two all right right" Mrs. William, standing 5’10 with shoulder-length dark hair worn loose; skinny with a cocoa-toned work-out-body, beautiful skin and pearl-white teeth, questions, stopping dicing carrots.
"Darius brought us home. It probably wasn’t anything, it just gave me the willies" shivering for effect.
"You two are vulnerable especially to fools and fools will be fools and maniacs just the same. What they have on their minds are never good, pure evil. I hate to say it but some lessons are hard learned girl baby whether theirs or yours and you can’t take it back. Me and your mother can’t take it for you, tapping her on the nose as she rises from his lap. Better believe what I tell you; prayer and lots of it. It’s not y’all I’m worried about, it’s them ruthless, merciless fools" strong in his words.
"Go wash your hands so we can eat" Mrs. William says wiping her soft, long manicured hands on her kitchen-matching apron before tossing it on the blond ceramic-tiled counter.
"I feel y’all real well" grabbing my backpack to exit the kitchen.
"I just bet" Wynita’s voice trails her down the candle-lit hall like her shadow.
"Wyn how was your presentation, Mrs. William questions. Did all your library time pay off?"
"Yes it did. We get our grades on Monday. Trust I passed."
Kanisha returns to the table and sits, "Ready. Say grace dad."
"Heads bowed. Giving all praise to our Lord, keep all unrighteous actions from my family Lord Jesus. Keep your heavenly spirits in charge of our souls, that your Word becomes our thoughts which becomes our ways that you may be glorified. Precious Lord let this meal fill our bellies as your Word ‘feels’ our soul until next you prepare a meal before the William family. Amen and amen; let’s eat."
"Daddy can I be personal…" I begin.
"Does this have to do with" Wynita interrupts.
"Wyn don’t start" my father orders, forking food together for his first mouthful. Kanisha and Wynita roll eyes at each other.
"I need to know when I’m going to have, hesitating, a period?"
"GIRL!" spitting up her food like it was so horrible.
"That’s a perfectly logical question" mom adds.
"Well?" bouncing her eyes back and forth from her mother to her father, skipping over her sister.
"’Nisha, you just turned 13, you’ll be getting something any day now" Mrs. William assures.
"Is that it? I thought there was more to it."
"That’s it, Wyn smarts off. When it happens it’ll happen; can’t rush Mother Nature. You may be at the Mall, sucking her teeth to be annoying, or even better out with your weak friends and somebody tells you that you have a big red spot on your butt, and at that instant you’ll wish you never rushed Mother Nature" wickedly laughing to antagonize her only sibling.
"Wyn it’s not as graphic as that, Mrs. William reassures, eyeballing Wynita. Just be patient girl baby and it’ll happen when it happens and it’ll be very private; everything will be fine."
"At least you can’t get pregnant if you were doing something" Wynita starts, flaring her nostrils at Kanisha.
"At least I don’t go out the wind…" catching my words before I complete the tell-on.
"What" her parents look at one another puzzled, daring the accusation to be true.
"Thanks dad, mom."
"Your sister’s been on going on five years" Mrs. William spills. Counting backwards on my fingers,
"Mother! Stop it" Wynita yells acrimoniously like a busted child.
"She’ll be having her 5th anniversary soon, mother continues, trusting her eldest child did not mean to yell as loud as she did. She still hates to be caught buying what she needs" shaking her head.
"Does anyone mind that I’m trying to eat" throwing her fork onto her 10-carat gold-trimmed ceramic plate.
"Awww hush that noise" Mr. William commands in a firm yet gentle tone. Every one sits quiet contemplating what could happen if one spoke out, after he ask.
"Change of subject needed, Wynita initiates. Mother when are you bringing the car back Tuesday?" "Do you need me to take you somewhere?" "No I need to use it."
"How can you just demand to use a car that you didn’t buy, it’s not yours" I accidentally yell trying to swallow my chewed food, and not choke. We back and forth.
"WAIT! Mr. William demands.
As a 6’3, 210 tone pounds of retired decorated Naval Officer, he is accustomed to using a low but unwavering tone when giving a direct order. Stop all that yelling at my table. Every one freezes. Mrs. William looks up in mid chew the demand was so commanding. Have you taken care of that bit of business we discussed?"
With her voice still slightly raise, "Yeah, I mean yes; I’m getting the stupid pills."
"Watch how you use your adjectives when speaking to your father young lady, her mother states, who’s been a Pediatric surgeon for nine years. We extend you leniency because you’d be defenseless if your father and I decided to be all up and in yours; you see. We require you to get the stupid pills for your own protection. It is written, ‘If you get pregnant up in here you better be married and if you don’t take the birth control pills willingly there’s going to be trouble. On the other hand if you take them with a willing heart, your life of comfort will resume as is" mom smiles.
"What’s gotten into you? You bounce around here like this family owes you something, like your birth was the second coming. What gives you the right to expect mom, dad or me owe you overwhelming respect when you don’t give it or deserve it."
"Thank, you mother" Wynita ends, ignoring Kanisha’s ludicrous statement, her ego wounded.
Sable and her father sit in the quietness of their ‘Prayer Room’; a small anointed space where they spend an hour a day worshipping God. The room was converted after Winifred passed of breast cancer. All her sewing supplies and expensive machines given to various ministries. The heavenly aura of the room and Myrrh incense allows them to quiet their spirit and get in tune with what God wants for them, just for today; where they repent laying their very lives on the cross in worship of God for His Son Jesus.
"Dad how do I know that when I die I’m going to heaven" I question.
"Honey you don’t know. I don’t know. But don’t concern yourself with that all the time. Be grateful for life right now; live in the land of the living. You’ll be in the dead a lot longer. Keep giving your testimony and God will do the rest" he assures.
"To bad we don’t know when the time is coming."
"It’s coming when it get here, Mr. Montgomery affirms. Your mother was such a pleasant blessing to my life, if I’d known her time was so near I would have spent every waking moment over loving her" he admits as tears well in his eyes.
"Thanks dad" lavishing kisses and hugs on him. Sable leaves her father to speak with his wife.
"What’d y’all eat for dinner" Sable asks, lying across her full-size Sealy Posture Pedic, wrapping her shoulder-length auburn dreads in a silk wrap and removing her nose ring, twirling her pink phone’s cord, all while snapping her gum like a world champion.
"You know how my mom is always trying something new on us for dinner; she made a duck marinated in this orange sauce. It was good. Jalamento cornbread and black-eyed peas with brown rice with stuff in it."
"What’s Jalamento cornbread?"
"Cornbread with jalapenos and pimentos in it, duh."
"Dang. You act like I’m supposed to know. We don’t eat like that over here. We eat some chicken a la plain." They both laugh out loud.
"With a little Jamaican Rum carrot cake on the side. Let me see who’s at my door; and some purple Kool-Aid. Yes?"
"Me" Wynita screams.
"Come in" moving the phone from her ear.
"You really need to stop trippin’ on me, Wynita tells after thrusting the door open, standing there like a Saks Fifth Avenue store mannequin. I’m the oldest so you need to give me a little bit more r-e-s-p-e-c-t."
"Shut my door in your face on your way o-u-t, how’s that for respect. Wynita waves her words away like smoke in the air.
"What’s up with this car that was following y’all, you think somebody out to kill y’all?"
"What you care?"
"I care, a little. Even though you be getting’ on my nerves you’re still my kid sister and if something happens to you, smirking, picking invisible dirt from under her one-inch manicured fingernails, I’m going to have to hear it for the rest of my natural life. On the real though, stop tramping up and down the street with Sable and you might live to see 17" spinning on her heels to make her dramatic exit.
"Get out, and don’t forget to slam the door in yo’ over-made up face. Sable Wyn lost as a fruit bat in a vegetable patch. I don’t know when she’s being sincere or being a butthead as usual."
"What did she say about me, I heard my name" Sable inquires.
"Let it ride" Kanisha playfully pleads.
"You are so lucky to have a sister, even if y’all fuss seems like all the time. Being an only child, girl if it wasn’t for you I’d be crazy. I got Darius’ number" Sable smiles.
"Bet! Your work fast Sable my sista" Kanisha exclaims excitedly.
"He asked me if I wanted it when you walked off to play your video games, I said I didn’t care, so he handed it over. Guess what it’s written on?"
Making sucking noises, "What?"
"A ten dollar bill" Sable screams.
"Really. That boy is a keeper. Let’s eat at McDonald’s for lunch tomorrow."
"We’re not going to eat at no McDonald’s goofy, the boy trying to be my boyfriend. When I bust this bill it’ll be with him. We can catch Mick Ds this week end, cool."
"Cool. You right about it. What you and your pops confess in the Prayer Room."
"Well we talked to God about what He wants us to do with our lives, in a time such as this."
"Did he tell y’all" inquiring seriously.
"Tell. Tell me girl. What did He say?"
"He said, Sable stalls. He said repent and stand firm in the name of Jesus. That He has chosen the Judge to judge fairly, Jesus the Christ."
"Sable, have you ever felt like something was going to happen, good or bad; a premonition of sorts."
"What you mean?"
"I’ve been having the craziest dreams, like, something like, death is going to happen to me and I wake up sweating" Kanisha tries to explain.
"Yeah, it’s weird. It’s been going on for about a month but at first it wasn’t as clear and detailed as it is now."
"I’m not in the picture am I" laughing.
"Yes you are smarty; you want me to blink you out. I thought we were here," bouncing two fingers back and forth in front of her lovely, deep set brown eyes.
"I wonder what was up with that burgundy car that was following us. I can’t believe they followed us to the store then waited. They probably know where we live and everything" Sable reveals in thought.
"For real. You watch America’s Most wanted right. Hollers away from the phone, ‘What… Alright.’ I told dad about what happened and he said to be careful because flesh will be flesh. Some people just don’t want to see us grow up" Kanisha tells.
"’Cause they know we’d change some thangs, then the other half is just crazy as hell’o" Sable laughs.
"My people need me off the phone. I’ll holla’ at you in the AM" Kanisha finishes.
"They probably some freak daddy trying to check us out. Molesters" Sable ends.
At 6:25am Kanisha’s alarm clock screams into another dreadful night’s sleep. ‘The nightmare of me falling into a never-ending pit of scorpions as ghost-white butterflies try to stop my downward spiral causing me sheer emotional agony, yielding to the 16 headed pit bull chasing me as I fall over buckets of blood and chairs covered with roses and little pink kids crying then disappearing; each time I get back to my feet one humongous pit bull is still chasing me as the little kids rotate skin colors; to green to orange to midnight black to...
As the early morning greets me, I straggle my sweat-soaked self across the hall to shower. Twenty minutes later I emerge from the steam left by the scalding water, still not fully awake’ still confused. I reach to answer my chiming phone with its DON’T DO Drugs stickers all over it, melting into the bed.
"Good morning my sista" Sable’s always cheerful self announces into the phone.
"Good morning" I respond not as excited for some strange reason.
"You ready for today my lovely sista’?"
"It’s your big speech day, snap out of it, what’s happenin’. Man I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear you blow them away. Let’s pray" Sable says in all out excitement.
"I had another dream" I tell, rubbing my dry eyes.
"Put that junk out of your mind. When God decides it’s time for you to go you can’t stop it anyhow so why worry, just make the best out of what we have right now girl baby. How many times do I have to tell you? What are you so afraid of, death?"
"Hey don’t" I interject quickly.
"I won’t, but it’s because you’re not using your faith right. Either pray or worry, one of the two; now what’s it gonna be?"
"It’s because I have things to do and this stupid dream, nightmare keeps getting in my way."
"’Nisha tell your family how much you truly love them, hug and kisses included…"
"Especially Wyn. Girl we’re going to be around for a long time, a hundred years or so" smiling with her voice.
"I hope so" trying to believe Sable over her realistic visions.
"What are you proppin’ in today?"
"I got my dark blue Abercrombie short set out the cleaners yesterday, but I might wear my Kani mini dress."
"Don’t go putting’ no dress on, it’s Friday. I’ll bust my red Apple Bottom jumpsuit and you do your green one and wear your AB sneakers, just in case it be on today. After school we’re going to the Mall to get my lay-a-way so tell your moms."
"I don’t tell my moms nothing, I’ll ask" I remind.
"You know what I mean girl."
"I have History supplies to get anyway. We’re doing a play next week and guess who got the lead."
"And you know this man!" "’Nisha I have to make a few more calls, I’ll meet you out front" so we disconnect.
A company of teenagers from the neighborhood swarm the bus stop, talking, laughing, horsing around. Sable and Kanisha stand amongst several friends, considered smart and cool, as Dante and Ariel pick with and annoy them like two cute gnats. Route 7 pulls up and slows to a stop. Ms. Anderson swings open the freshly oiled double doors and the bus stop empties.
After arriving at the predominantly black Miller Middle they enter the sparkling cafeteria for a breakfast of hot buttered biscuits or waffles, beef sausage or bacon, egg omelet or scrambled, orange or cranberry juice and a choice of milks. 40 minutes later the 7:45 sirens blares.
Sable sits in Mrs. April’s music class plucking the strings of her brand new gift from her father, who as her single parent spoils her spiritually and materially, tuning her 1/4 student size Albert Doetsch just right for another one of her hypnotizing solos. She blends her God-blessed talent with creative self-enthusiasm until the mouths of the hearers hang open in awe, sifting through made-up memorable melodies and original inspirational harmonies. Sable Montgomery drags and slides her wand as precisely as a surgeon performing a most delicate operation.
As rehearsed, two violinist accompany her rise to a gripping climax, but only alone can the finale be done justice; so Karmin and India sustain their notes as Sable dedicates the conclusion to her deceased mother; resting in peace.
"Everyone please be seated and pass your homework forward. Bookmark page 86, the entire chapter, due Monday." Kanisha stares blankly out the Windexed window.
"Kanisha William please stand and give your research on a notable black American."
Kanisha places her #2 pencil in its place atop the desk.
"My research on a famous black American led me to read about the black struggle in Alabama. Robert Russo Moton, President of Tuskegee Institute, the most prestigious black college for blacks in the world at the time, is a descendant of the Mandingo Tribe in Northwest Africa. His mission in life was to better the conditions of his people.
He’d often remark; deepening her voice, ‘I consider it a fortunate turn of events that my ancestors were brought to American soil even if in chains, because this happened I am able to go to Hampton University to gain the kind of education which enables me to serve as a useful American citizen and to help give others of my race the same opportunity.’
The head of the Veterans Administration in Washington, General Frank T. Hines, wrote President Moton of Tuskegee Institution on staffing a Negro Veteran’s Hospital.
President Moton’s reply was, ‘In as much as all the patients will be Negro and since Negro physicians are not at present able to practice in any of the larger hospitals, it would be fair to give them the opportunity.’ They did and most of heck broke loose. The Klu Klux Klan threatened with intimidation, beatings and lynching as they carried out just 60 years before hand, but President Moton stood firm to show the strong leadership exemplified by his predecessor."
"Pardon me Kanisha, does anyone know the name of his predecessor" Mrs. Henderson quizzes.
"I do. It was Booker T. Washington" Ariel answers, right as usual.
"Correct. Go on Ms. William."
"20 of his closest friends, white leaders in the community and State, came to him to ask that he redirect his advice to ward off possible retaliation from the KKK.
The judge of the probate spoke, ‘We come to you because of our friendship for the college and for you, its President.’ President Moton stood. Slowly the white faces before him blurred and he was seeing far into the past, back in his early beginnings, the many difficult and often painful steps he had taken to achieve this position of prominence, not for himself but for his people. He knew he could never give in to intolerance, injustice and bigotry. He spoke quietly; deepens her voice, ‘I would not be true to myself nor fair to you if I changed one word of what I have written, for what I wrote was the truth.’ He paused and the sadness of his face gave way to tears. Kanisha manages a few real tears for effect. He did not wipe them away, he let them fall onto the desk that was in front of him. ‘I am 55 years old. I have had more success than I deserve and I have friends in every State of the Union. We all know what a blot on the reputation of our democracy is the crime of lynching. If they carried out this threat our country would be swept with so much indignation within the Federal Courts, that lynching would be made a Federal crime, punishable through the Federal Courts. All my life has been based on the belief in the tolerance, the humanity, the ultimate fairness of the Southern white man. Without that, my life and my work have no meaning. If it is violated, it is better is should end. Gentlemen, I shall stand here and take the consequences.’ I pause to catch my breath after keeping it deep for so long. Thank God I’d practiced.
The silence was oppressive. The judge spoke, ‘I admire your courage and dedication and you are everlastingly right. If they kill you then they will have to kill me first. I’m to stand between you and the mob.’ There was a determined rustle as the men stood as one. ‘We are with you’ they cheered. The Klansmen didn’t make their scheduled appearance and as they drove by the college shouting, the students stood and witnessed this history in the making; that’s all by Kanisha William. The applause starts slow like a dripping faucet slowly being turned on full blast, as the class sits ‘informed’ by her well-researched presentation, rising to a full standing ovation.
"A plus Miss. William" Mrs. Henderson expresses, barely able to contain herself; Kanisha had once again given her exactly what she wanted as a teacher.
"Thank you" walking to her seat, with the glow from a nervous smile withheld.
Sable exits the school from the side ‘Emergency Exit’ door at 3:20, "Ready to go" flinging her Diva Style backpack over her shoulder and turning her Signature cap to the back.
Standing up from the bench, Kanisha shoves her papers in her backpack, "Bet."
"How’d your tribute go, did you blow them away."
"And you know this man" giving her best Chris Tucker imitation.
Sable and Kanisha enter the cool air escaping from the Mall when the doors are pulled open. They walk into Frederick’s and browse. They enter Jazzy Ts. They model several different outfits in the full-length mirrors, agreeing to purchase two a piece at next week’s allowance. They step inside the crowded American and African café Browstie, and take a booth by the stain-glass window to watch the comers and goers; order two rib on Rye sandwiches, fries and two Fantas, eat and exit.
"Let’s go get our stuff so we can be out, sucking out the last of her soda, before it gets late" Kanisha urges.
"My name is Sable Montgomery, here is my ticket for my lay-a-way" telling the cashier in Brookes.
Sliding her ticket across the scanner, "That’ll be 76 dollars and 57 cents" Sharlotte tells her. Sable hands her a hundred dollar bill and receives her three outfits wrapped in plastic, and her change.
They leave then enter Dahlia’s Social & Supplies. Kanisha buys her books on Continents, some pieces of wood, ceramic pieces and glue for her historical model.
Back in the 90 degree heat at the well-maintained bus stop a car creeps up; and it’s burgundy.
"What you girls up to" a very cute Juvenile inquires in his soft Barbados-flavored accent.
"You were following us the other day and we didn’t appreciate it one bit!" Sable snaps with unspilled fear.
"Let’s go back into the Mall and wait for the bus."
"About the time we walk back into the Mall the bus’ll be coming. Just ignore him."
They are distracted by the Juvenile’s mesmerizing eyes as he slowly drives away and are too late to hear the van, with its windows spray painted an icky black, slide up and open its barely hanging-on side door. Dimp and Tnine, old old-school gangsterplayerballers, jump out and snatch them into the painted-over van and screech away. They are bound and gagged, kicking and screaming, and driven four miles down a dirt road. Sitting off to the right side of the road is a maintained 25 foot by 4 feet deep pond containing assorted fish next to an almost new picnic table. The Juvenile appears in the door with an unremorseful glare on his face.
"I damn said I’ll do it and I’ll do it" slamming the door closed in their innocent faces, distorted with an unknown fear.
"Don’t leave no evidence nigga" Dimp orders.
"And you better do it" Tnine pressures.
The Juvenile re-opens the sliding side door and it gets stuck because of the loose bolts blocking its path.
"Let us go home!" Sable and Kanisha scream and plead in unison. The Juvenile slams the door shut again, just to further submerge them in fear.
Seconds later they hear a car burning rubber in the distance; it was probably burgundy. The Juvenile enters the van, yanks Kanisha out by one leg, kicking and screaming, ripping her tender flesh on the raggedly metal floor to handcuff her to the rack on the outside of the van, showing no mercy as he looks into her swollen and terror-stained face.
"NO! PLEASE, NO! KANISHA!" Sable’s plea for mercy pierces the chaos with blood-curdling screams from inside the dark, cold, suffocating, metal tomb.
"Why the hell won’t you let us go home" Kanisha spits, blowing snot in his face.
"Because I don’t have to" he returns spit.
He enters the van and twist in a flickering yellow bulb. He pulls the XXL shirt over his L frame, fiendishly admiring his underdeveloped chest, which has only produced three coarse hairs, to feed Sable’s fear.
Exhausted in it, she begs, "Please don’t!" kicking him away as best she could. The Juvenile ignores her pleas, forcing her to spread out on the cold raggedly floor. He re-cuffs her with rusted chains underneath the front seat, one hand under each. He unzips his pants while assaulting her with explicit words and sickening noises and gruesome gestures.
"Please...No…" as she becomes as petrified as a mummy, trying to make rational sense of what is happening to her. The Juvenile slides his three-sizes-to-big pants off and slithers his slender 6’2 frame up and down her terrified 4’9 petite self, ignoring Kanisha slamming and banging herself against the van with the spray-painted over logo. He sniffs Sable’s virginity. Her eyes bulge in terror. Her heart beats uncontrollably with the force of a Congo drum sending an urgent SOS; Save Our Souls.
Kanisha kicks and bangs and screams, "STOP! STOP IT! STOP PLEASE!"
With her head hung down, tears dripping into the puddle of urine making mud around her feet, Kanisha is intoxicated with hysterics.
"Why Lord, choking up a prayer. Why us? Why now, like this, weeping. What did we do to deserve this? Make it stop Lord! Make it be over with Lord! Straining back her tears; let us go home to our families. Lifting her eyes to the sky, WHY US LORD!?
As a heavenly peace descends on her, her thoughts become focused on words so often repeated; ‘Don’t be afraid of him whom after killing the body can do nothing else, I’ll tell you who to be afraid, be afraid of him who after killing the body has the power to cast it into hell.’
"Scream girlie, nobody can hear you! Ggggoooddd" he snarls sadistically at the fact that he is destroying life; he had no business to. Sable stares in horrific disbelief as her virginity is dragged from her flesh.
The Juvenile completes his spirit-numbing sexual sin, rises and pulls on his ‘sagged’ jeans, licking his fingers to further spiritually oppress her. He exits the van after uncuffing her, leaving her curled in a knot of excruciating unexplainable pain. The Juvenile unlocks Kanisha and slams her back into the demon-possessed space.
The two huddle together looking deep into one another’s blood-stained eyes.
"I’m so scared" Sable says under her heaving breath.
"Sable I’m sorry this happened to you, holding her ripped side together, you’re bleeding" stroking her blood-matted hair from her bruised face.
"That bastard raped me! I’m hurting really bad inside. I, sniffling, we’re going to die" in full panic mode.
"Don’t say that" Kanisha screams.
"Is he gone?"
"Look and see."
Together they peer out the greasy rear window to witness the Juvenile spinning the barrel of the biggest gun they’d ever seen, as his foot rest on the handle of a rusted machete knife; "I’m scared! He’s got a gun" Kanisha screams under her breath.
FATE vs FAITH
"’Nisha, I think this is the end of us, inhaling a deep breath. If we’re going to die, I think we should talk to God."
"Why is He allowing this to happen to us Sable!? We haven’t done anything wrong! I get all good grades in school! No drugs! No trouble! What’s going on! All I do is RIGHT! Maybe we can pray for Jesus to come and save us, make him let us go" moving from the sticky bloody spot and into hysterics.
"I hope so! Kanisha I know this won’t be a comfort to you right now but my dad told me a long time ago that we will be raised back from this physical death and into our spiritual bodies and we won’t remember any of this. That death or the sleep, will seem like it was only for a minute. When our life, which is only a vapor, here on earth is complete for whatever reason, this doesn’t have anything to do with me and you, but if not us who. We’re not fighting things we can see; the fight is with evils we can’t see. I know I promised that we’d be around for a hundred years but things go according to God’s plan, not ours. You know some parents still have a hard time talking about things like this or just don’t know how. My father makes it his business to talk to me about our Father. You have the victims and the victimizers, us and them, DAMN! Sable regains her composure to be encouraging. ‘Nisha listen, our minds are conditioned to feel this earthly pain. God is still God. We can’t know anything passed a time such as this until we stand before Jesus. The evil acts will continue for only so long then Jesus will exact judgment, everything will be peaceful. They’ll catch him and punish him according to man’s law then God will punish him according to His law" Sable concludes.
"Let’s hope so. Is that all your dad had to say. He didn’t give you any magic words to free us" bringing a memorable smile to both of their faces.
"Girl baby you crazy to the end. I can’t believe our lives are ending like this, what in the WORLD DID WE DO!" Sable screams, one last time. They hold hands to listen for God.
"Dear merciful God in heaven, as we are about to give up our flesh please, please, please, let our families find us soon to give us proper funerals. Please, please keep our friends safe. Please comfort our families and friends and give them meaning to their cares and concerns that they may understand what they have been taught from your Word. Evil people and demonic principles will only rule for a short time. I wish you’d let us go home. My daddy said we all have a pre-determined time to get out of here. I’m glad I’m with ‘Nisha. God we praise your Holy name even unto death. We love you for the life we have, had. Even though we’re not ready to die this young, we are ready to be with you and used by you to shed a brighter light on this horrible world. go ‘Nisha."
"Lord please let Darius know that we love him. Tell my sister that she’s forgiven. We love all our family and friends."
"Amen, amen and amen" they cry in unison.
They continue to pray silently, fervently and without ceasing. They stay huddled in barely stifled weeping, hearing the blaring sirens, knowing they are being looked for.
The Juvenile snatches the door open pulling Sable from the van kicking and screaming and pleading for her young life.
Minutes later Kanisha jumps to the ceiling of the van when she hears the gun blast, "Ssssaaabbbllleee!"
THE REASON THAT WE’RE HERE….
What the Juvenile does to Sable’s lifeless body is inconceivable from the mind of a 16 year old. When she’s found her body is in sixteen pieces. He returns and tosses Polaroid's to Kanisha of what used to be her beautiful and sassy best friend. Her blood-curdling screams sends chills down the Juveniles spine as the echo in the distance, as she grasp for air to breath.
"WHY! WHY! Why are you doing this to us, we haven’t done anything to you. We don’t even know you!"
"Initiation" trying to grab hold of Kanisha’s flailing legs.
"You’re killing us to be part of a gang! Where’s your moms! Where’s your family" she dares to ask while fighting for her very life.
"That’s right. You real if you kill! And these snaps are evidence of me man-up; let’s get this over with and don’t be worrying about my folks, they cracked out anyway! Let’s go!"
Kanisha whimpers like a lost puppy to a destined and brutal death.
The Juvenile executes then dismembers her, scattering her remains, all the while snapping Polaroid's of his grisly work.
3 days later a city employee stumbles across pieces of decaying body parts strewn about like garbage and vomits in complete disgust.
3 days later at the funeral services, mourners fall in to touch the urns that contain Sable Yourn Montgomery and Kanisha Maylar William; 13. Darius eulogizes over his two best friends, MURDERED by a JUVENILE!
"What happened to Sable, sniffle, and Kanisha was senseless, horrible, tragic, sniffle, but an almost everyday occurrence. The young dude arrested said he did it to join a gang and that he isn’t sorry one bit! Wiping tears from his handsome face, he needed to join a gang people. Is that what it’s coming to. Parents please love your kids. Do we have to continue to lose our friends and family, kids with world changing talent to make things happen. It doesn’t matter the color or race! Murdering kids is murdering kids. What is the problem, he shouts. Mothers, talk to you sons and daughter. Fathers, talk to your daughters and sons. Sons and daughters, talk to your mothers and fathers. Don’t let statistics say that this is a certain people’s problem; my friends were not reared without parental supervision, mannish, hard-headed, just regular teens trying to have happy, fulfilled lives; LIFE!
Dropping his head in utter disbelief. I am just a young man, I don’t have any answers, but neither does the ones screaming, slandering, vetoing, governing, being elected. It’s going to be a sad, sad world if we can’t simply grow up; a sad world. We use to write poems and words of wisdom back and forth for different reason to one another; I wrote these words for my two departed best friends, Sable and Kanisha, and for all of you.
He clears his throat and begins:
For every African American killed
We lose a job, a home, a position, a scholarship and a business.
For every African American killed
We lose someone to govern a rule, a law, a regulation and a status.
For every African American killed
Destroyed is a teacher, a musician, a politician, an educator, a scientist, an artist, a writer,
A lawyer, a judge, a friend; a you, a me, a mother and a father.
For every African American killed
The exploitation, the oppression, the depression and suppression continues to fester and thrive.
For all African Americans allowed to live by just another African American, we’d outnumber the grains of sand on any beach; that’s how we’ll grow and prosper. Amen, amen" choking on suppressed words never to be heard.
Wynita sits, losing her ever-loving mind.