Black and White Part 2

He’s been in jail 4 months. Now there’s no income. The cable is the first to go. Then the power. Then the food. This is all my fault…

I’ve made very few friends in the three years I’ve lived here. I break down and ask for their help. They bring over a few things to make sandwiches but I know they’re having struggles of their own. I feed my kids and go without because I’m not sure when we will get food again. Forget asking the neighbors. They hate me anyways. They’ve made that perfectly clear with the rocks thrown at my screen door and the yells of “cracker,” “honky,” and my personal favorite, “white bitch.”

From the dark living room, I hear my kids going through the Sunday newspaper that I took from the broken newspaper box. I hear my son exclaim, “Oooh I want that! And that one! Oh my God that one looks really good!” I walk towards them to see what they’re reading. “You can have that one. I will have these three.” I see little bodies lying on the floor, faces illuminated by a flashlight. His precious, short, little, five-year-old fingers touch the pictures of burgers and fries. “Sunday newspaper ads always seem to have the best deals and coupons on fast food,” I sadly think to myself. I turn my head and begin to cry. I’ve done this to them out of my own selfishness. What kind of mother am I?

I have GOT to fucking do something! I walk through the projects to get to the only payphone. There are young black men everywhere. Standing around as if waiting for a taxi. I hear, “You straight?” “Hey sweetheart, you straight?” Lingo for, “are you looking to score drugs?” NO MOTHERFUCKER I’M NOT STRAIGHT! My rent is due. My power is off and my kids are hungry. You gonna fix THAT? Ignorant. I reach the payphone after weeding through the drug dealers only to have a dozen more at the barbershop asking me the same question. I break down and call mom. She’s my only hope. I beg her to send money. Just a bit for the kids to eat. “I’m broke too, Tonia. There is no way I can send money right now.” I’m every emotion possible. All at the same time. I’m losing it.

There’s another shooting. This time, a prostitute was left in the bushes next to our apartment complex to die, naked and humiliated. There’s a backwoods club down a dirt road about 150 yards from the complex. I stay indoors when the club is open because there’s no way I’m letting anyone know a white “bitch” lives here. One night, shots rang out and four policemen….FOUR policemen show up. There are hundreds of people swarming the streets. I watch from my second story window. The police are outnumbered. What the hell can they do? I feel so safe. *insert sarcasm and hopelessness*

The police are no better than the drug dealers. Example, the neighbor’s son got pulled over with three pounds of marijuana in his trunk. When he went to court the judge told him he was being charged with two pounds. Now you tell me, what the hell happened to it and are you going to argue? I was pulled over on my way to work. I received a ticket for no proof of insurance while driving my cute, little ford focus, didn’t pay for it and didn’t appear in court. I was arrested and taken to jail. On the way there, the officer says, “You smell great. Don’t worry about Hall County Detention. Those officers like pretty girls and are usually pretty lenient.”  Think someone would believe me if I told? Do you believe it? I know I didn’t but that’s the way it went down. The feeling of helplessness and defeat will overtake everything innocent that you believe in.

Tonia

My husband was finally released after 8 months. The power came back on, the fridge was full, and the kids were happy. Life went on but we were never the same. After spending 5 years in the projects, I had had enough. I moved back home to Montana with the kids and left him in Georgia.

Georgia left me hateful and blind and I couldn’t stand how that made me feel. I learned to hate because I was hated.  Eventually, I moved on and learned that things didn’t have to be that way. The world was full of color and flavor and it was up to me to reach out and taste it. When will racism, poverty, hate crimes, and general judgement cease?  It’s up to you, my dear readers. The world is not always……..black and white.

Black and White Part 1

The year is 1999. My then husband moved to Georgia with our two oldest kids to search for work. My youngest stayed with me. He calls from Georgia a few months later and tells me to come down. I pack up and move all that I know trusting that he would provide and take care of us in this new and unfamiliar world.

Just a few short months later we were broke and living In Gainesville Housing Authority AKA, The Projects. There are large apartment complexes made of brick with bars on the windows. Shortly after moving in, I get a taste of reality. I hear my son yelling for someone to get off him. I rush outside and another boy is straddling my son punching him repeatedly. I pull him off and yell, “Where is your momma?!” I large, boisterous, black woman steps out of an adjacent apartment and yells back, “I’M HIS MOMMA!” I turn and walk toward her to speak to her about what just transpired between my son and hers. She tells me, “Don’t come any closer. Keep your white ass and your wet-back over there.” I feel blood rush up from my feet to my face. My hands clench into fists. I go to open my mouth but start to notice a group of people gather to watch me get my ass beat. I grab my “wet-back” and head back into the house. I sat there on my poor over-used, flowered-upholstered couch and cried.


My husband bought me a car! I cute little white ford focus. It’s our first “brand new” car. The payments are a bit high for our income but it’s OURS! One day, I pack up my daughter to take her to get immunizations. As I head to the car, I notice black coloring on the doors. I get closer and read in bold, dark black, spray paint “white bitch.” Who would do this?! I feel SO helpless. Relentlessly, I get in and drive to our appointment. There’s no point in calling the police. I have no proof of who did it. I have no money to fix this. I have no other choice but to return the car and continue making payments. I call the housing department and tell them to move me somewhere else. One week later, another apartment opened up in the back-end of the projects. I jump on it!

January 2nd, Sunday. A day I’ll never forget. Someone knocks on my door. When I open it, a smaller, somewhat chubby girl, was standing there before me. She smiles slightly and says, “I just want to tell you that your husband and I are sleeping together.” I slam open the screen door, pushing her back. I tower over her. “You sure it’s MY husband?!” As soon as she says his name, I want to punch her in the face. Instead, I tell her to get the hell off my porch! I want to go to his work and rip his face off. He best feel lucky I don’t have any money for the transit. I do the next best thing. I grab a pair of scissors, go upstairs, and slice his clothes. One thing I can say about my husband is he likes to dress and look nice. After carving up his preciousness, I light a joint and smoke through an entire pack of cigarettes. I hear the key in the door. I get up and stand near it. As he enters, I smack him along side the head. He didn’t even see it coming. HA! I smack him again. This time he raises his arm up and yells at me. “What the hell are you doing?!” “No sweetheart, what the hell are YOU doing? Who the fuck is (I say her name)?” I’ve never seen a Mexican look so white. “I want you to go upstairs, get your shit and get the hell out of my house!” What can he say? He heads up to grab his cut up clothing, cursing in Spanish when he finds the destruction. He comes down and heads for the door. As he does, I bring my leg up to literally kick him out. He falls forward and immediately turns back towards me. He comes at me full force, punching me straight in the face. I feel blood rolling down into my mouth. We fight back and forth for what seemed like hours but must have been mere minutes. I see police lights. I stop swinging and go into actress mode. I’m the poor, defeated, beaten wife. He was arrested and taken to jail on a felony domestic violence charge. I’d like to thank the academy. At least I know he’ll be in a jail bed and not hers.

To be continued…