“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

           When I was 5 years old, my mother handed over something that may or may not have belonged to her. Technically, it belonged to the undercover who purchased it.  I’m from a place where everyone knows everyone’s name and we can be counted on to forget what we have to.  However, everyone saw everything clearly and arrangements were made to ship the kids to where they needed to be while mom prayed in a  cement box, wiping her tears on the stuffed animals she’d send me. Meanwhile, my dad was in a box, tightly packed in a shitty cemetery (because you’ve got to show baptismal records to get into the nice ones) and my brother + sister’s dad pretended like she and his children were in one (until he decided he needed American papers years later) and so, I’m sure you understand, a woman had to do what a man had to do. The US government gladly gave my mother two-years vacation + a one-way ticket back to where the f*ck she came from – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  At the age of 5, I began living with strangers. From the age of 5, #CF raised me. 

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. 
We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, 
and only then do we forgive it.”

        Central Falls, Rhode Island is one square mile. Sounds pretty, right? It could be if it weren’t for the corruption, drugs, lack of resources and illegals sitting right the f*ck on top of each other. There’s no room to grow here. It’s almost impossible to move.  There is one kindergarten, three elementary schools, one middle school, one high school. No one has ever cared to explain how all those kids fit in one building, but, I must say, class is a lot funner when there are 40 kids. 

       I’m from CF. Woulda been born there if we had enough room for a hospital. Thank goodness I was born in Providence (and not Pawtucket because like any other hood, we’ve got to have a hood we don’t fuck with, right?). I was raised to be very weary of who I fucked with.   I was raised in CF, though. By Pine Street to be exact. Higgison Park if anyplace else.  My moms still lives in the same house I’ve lived in my entire life. Pine Street is mine. And yes, if you call my house phone (the 723 one), it’s still same number. Same hood. 

         I didn’t have too many friends growing up because I had nowhere to bring them. I slept in my mother’s bed until I was about 6. Then, I moved into my sister’s old bedroom –since she lived with an aunt of ours in Newburgh, NY. While she was at some all-white school in suburbia pretending not to be an orphan spic, my brother partied his grades down the drain at SUNY Buffalo (where else was he to find happiness?) Meanwhile in CF, my neighbors where my only friends & if I wasn’t in their house, we were on my porch or in the backyard (yup, I have a backyard. Smack dab in center of the hood. Nicest one in my city, too. Moms busted her ass).  

“You will know that forgiveness has begun 
when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”

     But perhaps the real reason I didn’t have as many friends as I would have liked is because my closet wasn’t over-flowing with Jordans as is/was necessary. I don’t remember when I first started getting name-brand kicks, but I do remember the “timbs” I got from Payless and when one of the “cool” girls asked me if they were real. Real rap, I shrugged and kept it moving. It wasn’t until years later I got a whiff of what “Section 8” was all about and put the pieces together. For a little while, I wished my mother would get on Section 8, too. I mean… all those kids were fresh. Now, I’m not saying I’m against Section 8, I’m just saying I know where the money they don’t spend on rent is going to: Footlocker. Niggas will be niggas. 

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory.
 Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. 
We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

          At 13, I said “fuck the mold” and gave everyone I knew the finger to match. At a time in my life where the only  thing that mattered was what everyone else was doing, I decided to all out not give a fuck. The school system was shit. Mostly everyone in my class hated the very idea of school and the day I saw Jose rolling a jay in the back of class, I decided it was time to stop giving a fuck about “cool”. I was going to be a nerd.  A select few of us make this choice… but even when you do, there are a few options for which high school to go to when you grow up in #CF. The best choice is what’s best for each of us, though. As long as you get out, is how I feel.  

  • OPTION 1: Use a different address, but all the schools are poor, so no matter which public one you choose, you’re almost fucked. I met one guy who went to Tolman, though. He now works for the Anderson Cooper show. His mother was a teacher there when he attended. Tolman is honestly, the best of the worst. 

If you’re from CF, you despise the sight of Shea High School and they hate you right back.
 That’s not an option. Moving on.  

  • OPTION 2: Go to the technical school: Davies. As all technical schools are, dope idea. Issue is, the kids I knew were’t particularly focused in their “trades”. They also don’t have to take the tradition math/science/language courses –so if they happen to change their minds, they barely have the prerequisites to apply to college. In hopes of getting ahead,  many get left behind. 

  • OPTION 3: If you really want to get the fuck out, you go to the Catholic school up the block. (Tiffany went there after we keep sending orders of pizza to her house. Wasn’t really “we” though. I just laughed.) I don’t know anybody from there who’s doing anything either. There’s also St. Ray’s. It’s were the semi-smart kids go. The ones who are too smart to be cool and too cool to be smart. I practically slept though that entrance exam & told them to keep their money. Besides, they had uniforms & I ain’t uniform with a fuckin thing. 

  • OPTION DREAM: Private private school. I mean.. I’ve never seen this many white people in my life private school. I mean, Hummers for 15th birthdays (with sound system and rims) private school. I mean, when people told you where their parents worked, you recognized the places. I’m talking, walking through the hallways and seeing your classmates’ last names on plaques on walls preceded by “named in honor of .” They type of place that coerces a girl over from Rocawear to Burberry and flashy sh*t speaks for itself. I’m talking, you know they don’t want you there because you can see the fear in their eyes for the split second before they turn them to the ground. The kind of school where, when people talked about the “poor” or the “needy” they were talking about you and your name probably flashed through their minds and the worst part of it all was that they were probably right. The kind of school where the one white boy you happened to like would like you back but would end it all with a poem about how you were the night sky and years later, you’d wonder if he was still susceptible to such peer pressure and if maybe he’s sobered up by now. But really, you don’t give a fuck because it showed you how weak the white man really is and you grew prouder of your roots every day of ’06 as you parked your ’95 Taurus next to your classmates’ ’05 Lexus truck and promised yourself to always be yourself because the time will come when they will all know that who the fuck you are is who the fuck you were and by whatever the fuck power was vested in me, I never broke down and I’m not going back to that muthafucka until they all know it,  so that I have nothing to say and nothing to prove.  Yea. I went to that kind of private school. 

“Vengeance is having a videotape planted in your soul that cannot be turned off. 
It plays the painful scene over and over again inside your mind… 
And each time it plays you feel the clap of pain again… Forgiving turns off the videotape of pained memory. 
Forgiving sets you free.”

           I would say “they took everything from us” but in reality, we never had shit for them to take. A couple cans of deviled ham with saltines or packs of ramen noodle like we sponsored them. When my mother came home, we picked up like nothing happened. She had silently submitted for two years, returning home during March when I was in the second grade. She picked me up from school with a mut she found at the pound who would later learn the taste of my blood. She always worked two jobs. Alway an office job with a nurse’s aid job –“cleaning ass” my mother enlightened me. There were things she never did: She never held back. Anything I wanted, my mother would give me (or try to). I knew better than to ask for anything outrageous & had gotten a job at 13 so I could keep my kick game clean. When I told her I wanted to go to private school –the most expensive day-school in the state — she never questioned. I put the papers in front of her and pointed to where she needed to sign. She never faltered. She never hesitated to walk right in that school and tell them we needed extra money for books. I never missed out and she never let me. 

She also never claimed that plane ticket.

Do you know what happens when you get deported and never leave? 

At the end of every day, your child dreams of becoming a billionaire 
just to own land so they can never try that “deportation” bullshit again.

       That’s why they don’t want us in this fuckin country. They know that if anyone has the power to take over, it’s those who had the power to overcome every obstacle you threw their way. But they let us rock so they can claim “diversity”. At the very most, they stick us in some shit-hole corner of the country somewhere so they can pretend we don’t exist. They run us like animals. Make us go to work and pay taxes we never see because we can’t quite claim them. Making rules we can’t fight because we don’t really know them. #CF has no hospital. But it sure does have a prison. Across from the high school’s football field, matter fact. Aint shit new. We know what it is. We know where they want us. 

         I’m from CF. And damned proud of it. Wouldn’t be from no where else. Everywhere else is either pure bred chumps or people living off legends not their own. If it wasn’t for that little shit hole, I’d have no understanding of how big the world is, but no matter where you go people are all the same: They still ain’t shit. The dude who went to Tolman (give me a sec to recall his name), I met him on a Greyhound (he’s got a place in California, hold your horses), told me that what was wrong with where we live, is that there is no horizon. You can’t see much further than right down the block from any given point. You have no real concept of how vast the land is because you can only see about 100ft in any direction before something touches sky line. People from CF are afraid of anything outside of that. People don’t leave and they don’t want to. It’s comfortable. There’s good people. I had, not only one, but two best friends. But to be “friends” in CF, you have to not only think alike, but refuse to think for yourself. Loyalty is key. You don’t go against your crew. Not for a thing. But CF is just like any other place that ain’t shit either; It breeds mean m*thaf*ckas and ain’t shit people and the only point to your life is figuring out which one is you. It’s in that very debate our world goes sour, feel me? What the majority of people fail to recognize is that it’s not about finding out where you belong in the world, it’s where the world belongs in relation to you. 

It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do with it. #TripleEntendre.  

For example, a lot of people have blogs, but do you see what the f*ck I do with mine?

Another example, we all have access to the same words, but do you see what the f*ck I do with mine?

You can’t fake real life sh*t.

Thank goodness for the struggle. 

God Bless #CF. 

Thanks for readin, yo ❤