We fight in N.Y. – we just do.
I have met so many woman (and men) over the years that have not had fights and it always boggles my mind. I’m thinking “how did you make it through 12 years of SCHOOL without scrapping ONCE? Impossible.” My first real brush with ‘inner city violence’, was in P.S. 106 – in the 4th grade – when Tyra, Latisha and Keisha decided that they were gonna “jump” me. I’m sure most of you know, but in case you don’t being “jumped” is when a group of people decide to beat up on one person or a smaller group. It’s weird how I don’t remember the circumstances now, but I think it had something to do with a boy named Gregory Wilkenson who we all sweated back then (and maaaybe my general ‘goodie two shoes-ness). In any event they followed me as I walked to my grandma’s house in an area called Parkchester and pushed me into a bunch of bushes, they hit me a few times, dumped my book bag out, broke my glasses and stole my bus pass (which for a NY latchkey kid is like the holy grail).
I was devastated by this incident. And, what was more devastating was that I had to continue to go to school with these heifers! Something happened to me after that though. I was NOT a hell raiser in elementary school. I pretty much hung with a group of girls that I had known most of my life and we rarely beefed. But after that, with the help of my young uncle and aunt who constantly talked to me about not letting anyone bother me – and my mother who took no shorts AT ALL (she was of the “go get that jump rope back from them NOW or don’t come home” ilk) I developed a thick skin. Latisha caught it by the end of the year, I didn’t even have to get at Tyra bc she already started trying to be my friend – and that was that. I had found a new power.
Now fast forward a bit. Maybe 6th or 7th grade. Not because I was evil, not because I was a bully – just because I was a strangely calculating little kid, I launched a campaign against a girl in my school because I was jealous. She never knew this I’m sure, but I was jealous because she seemed smarter than me, she seemed nicer than me and she was taking my best friend away from me or so I thought. So I went in on her. I am embarrassed to say now what I did – but it was mean. Like the “Mean Girls” movie mean, but SO out of my natural character. She was so hurt behind it and I remember sitting in our principal’s office and seeing her red eyes and feeling so very bad. She doesn’t know it, but that kind of changed me in that moment too. I promised myself that I would NEVER bully anyone or make them feel bad purposely. And I didn’t.
Every fight I had after that (Oh, because we fought – she was not a push over like that, she even spit on me during the fight) But after that, anytime I fought I was provoked. When I started at public high school girls thought I was some type of punk because I came from catholic school – so I had to fight to defend myself – a lot. I was suspended 7 times in my freshman year. The girls would just fuck with me for no reason and after a while I didn’t even wait for the bell to ring. (One girl I fought three times – Rhonda Coleman- just for the record) But I didn’t LIKE to fight, it was just necessary for survival after a while.
Since high school I have had a few more scuffles here and there. My roommate in freshman year of college, A Kappa talking breezy at a party sophomore year, some random ass girl who threatened my friend and a mechanic who tried to keep my car…and possibly a few more. Really I have had hundreds of more “violent arguments” than I have fights. It weeds the punks out. I’m clear who I am gonna have to take on (1-D) as we used to say meaning one on one – in the first thirty seconds of an argument. Girls who want to fight don’t argue – well we do – but only long enough to get the adrenaline pumping and then its on. Once all of that back and forth and explaining starts, hands down – no scrapping is happening.
Well, now I am a mother. And like my mother before me, it is well-known that I will lay you OUT about my baby. No questions. Although she wasnt born or raised in the Bronx, I thought she would SURELY have a little of her mama in her. I mean her daddy aint a slouch either (evil, I believe is the word I’m looking for) and Lord knows her auntie, my bestest, is worse than me! But, alas, my baby is me in the fourth grade – on steroids! . She is “sunny side of the street” on the darkest, cloudiest days…she is rainbow skittles in your bowl of brown M&Ms – she is just “joy”. She doesn’t understand why people don’t get along, she doesn’t understand why people randomly don’t like her , and she certainly doesn’t get bullies. She is now in the 6th grade – you remember that year, right? Full onset of puberty, loads of self-doubt, weird emotions – and boys. She is in the midst of all of that – and dealing with bullies. And I am at my wit’s end. Part of the reason I am writing this at seven in the morning is because she has shared yet another story of girls messing with her this morning while she was dressing. Its been two years and its only escalated since we moved to Philly. She wont fight back. She just won’t. The one time I tried to push her like my mother pushed me backfired so badly. I kept screaming at her, “you better hit those girls back if they hit YOU!” Her auntie and I were tag teaming her back and forth and finally I screamed “why wont you hit them back!” and she yelled out, crying “Because I don’t like violence!”
What do I do with that? I raised her on the non-violence of the Civil Rights Movement and reading the Bible – and now I wanted her to ‘choke a bitch’? I couldn’t be that contradictory. That was 4th grade, now we’re in 6th and it’s getting worse. They are calling my house and hanging up, threatening her, last year she even got a death threat in her desk – A note in red that said “Kill Kaia” in big red letters. I can’t take it – and as I have said before I am not above fighting a 6th grader, especially the ones that look like they are my co-workers. But I know that will not solve the problem. Did I say that I’m at my wit’s end? I talk to her constantly about ways to stand up for herself without being violent. She is too afraid. We are working on self-esteem issues and she does talk to me a lot, but I am really, really concerned. What happens next? People never think about how they scar these kids for life – I know I didn’t. Even if every subsequent fight after that one back in 6th or 7th grade was self-defense (or some version of) it doesn’t change what I did. I apologized, sincerely then, and since she is still my friend, I sincerely apologize again, now. But I can’t help but think as my girlfriend mentioned the other day, is this Karma?
help. help lawd.