Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Black Shorts and Engaging Others

Yesterday, I was informed that a young, African American Brother was pistol-whipped by two young Brothers. This is madness! It is also painful. I am challenging you as young, developing writers to pay attention to these issues. Can you write a short story that can stop one bullet? Can you write a short story that will bring one father home? Can you write a short story that can prevent one teenage girl from becoming pregnant? Can you write a short story that leads another Brother to complete high school? Can you write a short story that can...?

Post your short stories here.

Until next time,

Brother Author, Dr. T.

Here are two samples of my raw writing.

"Not in My Neighborhood"

By

Alfred W. Tatum

July 9, 2008

His bright red cap, half-cocked, was the first thing I noticed when he entered the room. I am not quite sure why he showed up, but it was something about his presence that was welcoming. His movements were slow and measured. I could hear the questions he was asking although he remained silent. The baby face atop the grown-man frame was weathered with pain, but not totally washed of innocence. He was teetering between something that was difficult to pinpoint. Then he spoke, "Not in my neighborhood."

"Bull crap," I said. "Do something about it."

"Man, all of this is bull crap. We are sitting around waving our pens like magic wands, but
we can't write anything that's going to change anything."

Struck by the care of his words that were both troubling and halting, I had to find a way to reconcile myself to the young boy's truth without abandoning my own. Stunted by a reality that I did not fully understand, although media images abound, his notions of gloom warranted serious, yet careful conversation to keep him talking. He preferred to let his body do the talking – the folded arms across the chest, the face grimace that suggested naivety on the part of the unknowing, and the silent-sitting-slumped-in-the-chair stance. Each spoke volumes as they marked him as different, guarded. The hope was in his presence. Although the others ignored him as they wrestled with their own personal demons, I noticed him as a distinct fabric of the cloth. Not more outstanding, but shelled differently.

“So what is the answer?” I asked.

“I don’t have the answer. Nobody has an answer.”

He shifted in his seat. His hands were now folded on the rim of the table in the middle of the room where he sat. The others stared in anticipation, waiting for a response I had not yet formulated. The entire institute could be lost with poorly chosen words or an ideological foolish explanation that positioned me as an outsider of the realm of their day-to-day journeys. Did I truly understand? The sands of self-assurance were being washed away by this young boy’s strong language, softly spoken. I had a few seconds to think, to respond, to question, to recover. It was my move.

“There is a scripture in the bible that says, …”

“I don’t understand a word in the bible, please don’t go there.”

He leaned back again, and I was feeling suffocated by the weight of disillusionment. Out the corner of my eyes, I saw two other young boys nod in agreement with, Trey, because I missed the mark with my response. I imagined him asking, where was the bible when my friend, Jimmy, needed it. Or saying, I don’t know if you know this, but it’s not the bible that people are carrying around that is causing havoc. The wedge between us was growing wider. It was my move again. Had I lost the only chance I may ever have? It was close to noon, and our time together would be ending soon. I conjured up a silent prayer, “Jesus, please guide my words and my thoughts. In your name I pray, Amen.”

“What is the truth?” I asked.

“It don’t exist.”

“Is it true that you should just roll over and die, because the truth is, you are going to die anyway, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

“Maybe I should.”

“Maybe you should.”

Totally confused about where this conversation was going, I turned my back to the room of young boys and walked towards the chalkboard. My thoughts were marinating, but quite unclear. The resignation in the young boy’s tone was peppered with resistance, and I knew I had him where I wanted him. He was debating my clever questions. I was winning. He did not want to die, and I knew it. It is something about death that is too final for a young boy that causes him to reject it, to fear it. Where is the chalk, I thought? Searching for it gave me a few more seconds to think. The academic exercise ended abruptly. I heard him say,

“Write something to stop this.”

I turned around and saw, Trey, holding a gun to Craig’s head, his left hand around the other boy’s neck. “Let me see what you are going to write on the board now. How are you going to use writing to stop me from pulling the trigger?” I froze.

“Like I said, not in my neighborhood.”

He turned and left. I stared at the frightened faces of the other boys, and I thought, maybe Trey’s right. Craig came to the front of the room; picked up the chalk I was searching for and wrote five words on the board. “This is what you should have written,” he said.



Sixteen

By

Alfred W. Tatum

She sat two rows in front of me on the seven-car train that was moving toward the city. Her hair was uncombed, and there were naps all along her two-toned neck. The daughter’s hair was not in much better shape suggesting that she just didn’t have time to get to it this morning. Earplugs were in her ears and small gold hoop earrings, nothing extravagant, hung from her lobes. The dimples on her moderately dark face were attractive. She was really pretty. I made brief eye contact with the girl who looked like she was about sixteen. We exchanged a brief smile that was interrupted by a young boy who began to scream; the pacifier dropped from his mouth. It was obvious he hadn’t had his first haircut, and the white dry snot marks on his nose looked nasty. She spent the duration of the ride trying to calm him down. The train passengers, mostly white, looked irritated because the young boy’s cry was intruding upon their newspaper reading; their attempts to complete work on laptop computers, or their desire to simply enjoy four-dollar-cups of coffee. I felt sort of sad for the girl as she bounced the baby up and down on her lap as her little girl looked on. The mother’s face tightened each time his shrieks grew louder; she looked somewhat apologetic for disturbing the others. At one point, I even became irritated. Why won’t the boy just shut up, I thought?

“What’s your son’s name?” I asked as I helped her carry a nice sized bag off the train.

“Emanuel, but we call him, Man-Man, for short.”

“That’s his daddy’s name, but my daddy’s name is Bootsey,” the little girl said.

“Shut up, Tee Tee. I told you about talking so much.”

“Are you meeting his father down here?”

“Naw, we don’t talk anymore.”

“My grandma is picking us up.”

“Didn’t you hear me tell you to shut up?”

I helped her carry the bag through the crowded terminal as people in high gear rushed by us on both sides. For a moment, I suspected we looked like a young couple with two kids. I wanted to wait with her and carry the bag to the car that would be waiting for her outside of the train station, but I had to catch the number 60 bus that ran every thirty minutes. I would be late if I chatted any longer. I patted, Man-Man, on the head, and said, “Take care little fella.”

“Bye.”

“Bye, Tee Tee.”

“Thank you for helping me with the bag.”

“No problem.”

“What’s your name?”

“Richard,” I said before turning and walking in the other direction. As I reached the revolving doors, I hear the boy beginning to cry again, making me think about my own situation.

I was really sure that I was about to do the right thing when I boarded the train this morning. It was hard for me to imagine what my girlfriend wanted to do. We had been together since our freshman year, and I didn’t understand her logic. There was no way I was going to be like my old man or her old man. I got her pregnant on purpose just to prove my point. She knew it to, but I convinced her that everything would be okay. We argued a lot because she kept letting her mother and girlfriends get into our business.

“How we gonna take care a baby?”

“You’ll see everything is gonna be okay as soon as we finish school.”

“Where you gonna work with a high school diploma?”

“Oh, I’ll get a job. Don’t worry about that.”

“What about college?”

“We don’t need college to take care of no baby.”

“Where we gonna live?”

“It will work out, trust me.”

I replayed this conversation in my mind over and over as I waited on the bus stop. “Where is the bus?” I murmured. I got to hurry up and get to the clinic; I cannot let her do it. It was all running through my head - Man-Man’s crying. Tee Tee’s talking. My girlfriend’s questions. Reaching into my pockets for the fare card was also messing with me now. No money. Momma gave me money for this trip today. Still, I wasn’t going to be like him, or Man Man’s daddy, or Bootsey. I got this, and I will handle my business “Where is the bus?” I uttered loudly this time. I got to get to the clinic to stop her.

More people had gathered at the bus stop. If they were carrying burdens like me, it was difficult to tell. Stepping into the street, I could see the number 60 finally rolling my way. It was finally here. The doors opened, allowing several passengers off. I could hear a baby crying on the bus, a baby being held by someone who looked like me. “Are you getting on young man?” the driver asked. “No, I am waiting on the number 120.” The bus rolled away, and I walked back toward the train station.

7 comments:

Armand M said...

The Bus driver



Jay, hurry up or you’ll be late for school,” my mom yelled up the stairs.

Jumping off the stairs doing everything to get back lost time, I grab some toast and darts out the door. When I get to the bus stop I saw a new black worker. I thought I could finally catch a break from Mr. Carson always yelling at me about being on time. As I was just making it to the bus it pulled off. I ran after the bus and it finally stopped. I got on the bus and heard the bus driver say don’t be late again. I sat down in front since his school was only 9 blocks away. The bus driver stopped the bus and told me to go to the back of the bus. When I asked why I needed to move he told me “Because that where black trash belongs.”

I cannot believe what I just heard. A black man called me trash and demanded I get in the back of the bus. My face immediately went from tired to enrage. “Do you know what you just said to me?” I asked. He replied with a yes and then I lost it. “How can you tell me to go to the back after all the struggle our people had to go through to get it? It took us 382 days just so you can try to act all high and mighty to be a bus driver. I don’t care if you are an adult you’re out of your mind if you think I’m getting up!! Have you looked at your skin color lately you’re the same amount of black trash that I am.”

The bus driver started to drive the bus finally and I tried to calm down. Then his retort fumed me up again. He said “I do know my skin color and I hate it. Nobody did anything and got respect for it from being black. Martin Luther king got shot for trying to change the world so we can have this oh so good life. No one has given me respect for helping the needy and I get fired from my job because of it. Now I’m stuck being a bus driver for ungrateful brats like you. You think you know so much did you know that some of the greatest black people were shunned because at the time they weren’t great. Michael Jordan Mr. MJ himself got kicked off his sophomore basket ball team because his coach thought he couldn’t’ cut it. So please spare me your justification about black people. I hate black people and I wish that I was white because white people get everything they want. Now shut up and get the fuck off my bus!!”

I got off the bus at my school and realized something. That bus driver was partially right. We as African Americans haven’t been given all the credit that we deserve. Caucasians have been given more respect than us and it’s because of that that we must fight harder and make ourselves better than them. My name is Jay Mitchell and I am going to be that next great black inventor.

DR. ALFRED W. TATUM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deonte said...

FADE AWAY

Jimmy was the only person on his block that ever committed
such a crime. No one wanted to be his friend after what he did.
He felt alone.
When he went outside, everyone else went inside. They went back out
after Jimmy went in. When he came out, he sat on his porch.
While he listened to the wind blow through his ear, he wished he could
just fade away.

Jimmy did not like the fact that no one on his block liked him.
When he tried to talk to people, they just turned their backs to him.
Jimmy went back in his house and he tuned on the T.V. Then he heard
a squeaky noise. He just ignored it. When Jimmy heard it again, he jumped
up and said “who’s there.” Not getting an answer, he searched his house.

What Jimmy didn’t know was that a stranger was in his house.
Jimmy checked almost his whole house so he sat back down and drew the
conclusion that it was just a mouse. He laughed at the seriousness of the
noise.

Night time came so Jimmy got ready for bed. While he was on his
way up the stairs, he heard the squeaky noise again. Then he realized
that he forgot to check one place, his room. Jimmy ran back down
the stairs and grabbed a bat. Then he quietly walked up the stairs.

When Jimmy made it to the top stair, he was sweating bullets.
His legs started shaking like an earthquake was occurring. He quietly
walked to his bedroom door. Then he reached for the doorknob
Not knowing what was awaiting him, he swung the door open
and what he saw was… A mouse.

“A mouse is what scared me,” said Jimmy. When he walked over
to his bed, the stranger jumped out of the closet and grabbed Jimmy.
Scared for his life, Jimmy screamed as loud as he could but none of his neighbors cared. The stranger gripped Jimmy very tightly so he couldn’t move. Jimmy asked the stranger why he was trying to kill him. “Because
you killed my mother, Sarah Jenkins”

“Do you mean the Sarah Jenkins that lived next door” Jimmy asked.
“Yes, that was my mother” said the stranger. All Jimmy could say was
that she was close to dying anyway. The stranger pulled a knife out of
his pocket and held it in front of Jimmy’s throat.

The stranger stroked his arm back and Jimmy was no more.
The stranger then escaped leaving Jimmy on the floor dead.
Jimmy finally got his wish, he had faded away.

Deonte’ Jones July 9, 2008

Jamil said...

“Hard Times”
By Jamil Boldian
7/9/08

Go Shawty it’s your birthday, we gonna party like it’s your birthday, and we don’t give a care cause it’s your birthday. James, turn off all that noise, Mom said. Why is it that you always torturing me; I can’t do anything in this house, can’t have friends over, and can’t sleep in when I want to, nothing! Man, I can’t wait until I’m eighteen! I wish my daddy was here, “said James”. “You wish you what”, said mom. She started going off about how much she does for me, and the sacrifices she has done. But I wasn’t trying to listen; I was trying to do my own thing. My mom told me to choose what type of lifestyle to live and if I don’t follow the right path it was only three places I’ll wind up, on the streets, in jail, and....Well! I’m not going to get into all that, because I can handle my own. The last thing I heard my mother say to me was, go to your room! I wonder why. And then it was all….over!
Growing up in Rock-Well Gardens was a tough life to live, but you know me, I’m J-dub and I can handle my own. Going to school wasn’t an option for me anymore. After my junior year, I just didn’t care anymore. It’s something my mother really wanted, but I don’t care “said James”.
Two years later, James got introduced into the streets business. A man by the name of Lil-Boe, who was known in these streets, started teaching James all the basics. The rules, the signs, the shakes, everything that’s gang related, James now know.
“How old are you kid?” “Said big Ant” Big Ant, the leader of all Lords. Had huge muscles, scars everywhere on his body, tattoos just all over, looks like he had been ran over by a bull-dozer, James replied quietly, eighteen! Then ask how long he has been on his own, James never answered. Maybe because he never been on his own before. So big Ant then asked another question, are you sure this the life style you want to live because once you go gangster there’s no turning back. James thought to himself and spoke up with a shivering voice, “I’m sure!”
HURRY UP! A man said, as James rush into the car. Sirens everywhere, helicopters in the air. Speed up! James said His heart beating like a race horse at the Kentucky-derby. Fired letting loose everywhere, shoot back, shoot back!! The driver indicated. As angle dust flying everywhere, money in the air, spikes hit the ground. The car spins out of control; it hits a brick wall, and off they go. Bang, Bang, Bang! James falls down, he had a glimpse what his mother said to him “there's only three places you’ll wind up if you don’t choose the right path, on the streets, in jail, or dead!”
Man I wish I stayed in my room that day.

Anthony Ponder said...

Title: Challenging Love
Author: Anthony Ponder
Date:7/10/08
“That guy is fast!” Those were the words that kept going through his mind as he walked to his starting blocks. Tyson Love was only 15 years young, and was now being faced with what seemed like his biggest challenge ever. Tyson was a guy who practiced relentlessly; leaving nothing to be said about his dedication and work ethic. But now… Now, was the time for him to put it all into effect. Tyson had been training for about six or seven long gruesome months for what would take him less than for less than 60 seconds to complete. Now he was scared. Tyson was now being tested in more ways than one. The sound of the same people he practiced with every day, cheering for him, now made every muscle in his body quiver.
Tyson was about to run what is said to be the hardest race in the sport of track and field a race that is said to be the perfect blend of speed and endurance. The exact same race that on his very first time running it he passed out and just barely broke 60 seconds. Tyson was about to run the dreaded 400 meter dash. Now the possibility of a state championship for his teammates rested on his legs; his technique and all of the practice and conditioning that he had done for six or seven months.
But this would not be an easy victory. He was running against the three time defending state champion; Arland Chrone from Whonokia. This guy was built like a horse. He stood about 6’3 to Tyson’s 5’7. “The guy literally looked like he ate weights for breakfast, and then spit them up and lifted them for dinner.” When he stepped on the track he looked like a grown man running with a bunch of boys. But...Tyson Love knew what he had to do. He needed the ten points from first place to win the state meet, or he needed the eight to tie. All of Suburban Prep was counting on this one race, and now it was on.
“Runners to your mark!” the official said as he was preparing to raise the gun in the air. Tyson went through his normal routine and then looked at his coach, and as he looked at his coach he saw all of the confidence his coach had in him and at the moment he caught hold of his self and knew that it was time to bring the pain. “Set!!” the official yelled as he raced the pistol into the air. “Run an aggressive curve Tyson, Lean, bring home baby, all or nothing!!!” Those were words Tyson heard his coach as his coach watched in sheer admiration from the stands.
“BANG!!!” The gun sounded and immediately Arland Chrone was out and moving through the curve like a caged lion being let out of a box! Chrone was in lane five and Tyson was in lane four. Tyson had the advantage of being able to watch Chrone’s every move. But, Tyson got out to what had felt like his best start ever. Tyson and Chrone had already made up the stagger on lanes six and seven, and was closing on eight and nine.
Tyson looked like a gum ball rolling down one of the twirling gumball machines the way he was leaning the curves so beautifully. But, Chrone was refusing to let Tyson gain any ground on him. Chrone’s long legs were not able to stretch out the way the would have liked because he was running on what is considered the short man playground “the curve”. But the incredible turnover of Chrone did not allow Tyson to gain any ground. As they were transitioning from the curve to the straight away Tyson and Chrone flew past the runners in lanes eight and nine as if those guys were moving backwards.
As they were transitioning from the curve to the straight Tyson still had not made up any ground on Chrone. And just as Tyson was beginning to make up gound on his opponent, Chrone’s long legs began to extend and eat up the straight way. And Chrone began to pull away. They both went through the first two hundred in under 22.5 And as they were coming up on the curve it was now time for Tyson to put his game plan into effect which was all out on the last two hundred meters. And just as Tyson hit another gear, so did Arland Chrone. Tyson was running the best race of his life so far and now it was time to hit the gas. Tyson began too try to hard on the curve and began to over extend his legs and was now beginning to loose his grasp on this incredibly close race. Chrone and was now at the top of the curve with about a ten meter lead on Tyson Love, and he was accelerating! But as Tyson was running, his whole season flashed before his eyes and he realized he trained for this one day and he was not about to let it go away that easily. And as the two runner were making the transition to the straight away Tyson from out of no where hit another gear and started to accelerate, pulling to within seven to eight meters of Chrone before they hit the straight away. As the two runners where coming home all Tyson heard was the encouragement of his teammates coming from the stands and the deep breathing of Arland Chrone. At that moment Tyson knew he had to make his move Arland Chrone was gased.
He had focused so hard on staying in front of Love that he did not save enough for the last hundred meters. By the time Arland had reached the fifty meter mark Love was right there on his shoulder breathing right down his neck. Then out of no where from lane 3 a new challenger came into the picture pulling right in front of Tyson and Chrone with about 40 meters to go. And with about twenty meters to go, all three runners where neck and neck. Now it was coming down to who wanted it the most. Technique, concentration, and one hell of a lean were going to win this race. So with about 10 to go the runner in third had slightly dropped back to third and Tyson and Arland were again the runners challenging for the victory. Then with about five to go a runner in lane six surpassed both Arland and Gay for the win and Tyson brought in second place just barely edging out Arland by about a 100 tenths of a second.
The times went in the books as, Demarcus Hooks in first with a time of 45.8. Tyson Love in second with a time of 46.0. And Arland Chrone in third with a time of 46.01. Tyson crossed the finish line he fell to his knees and began to cry as if something terribly wrong happened. Until his teammates ran over picking up and saying “Man you beat Chrone we won state!” Then his coach ran over and said to him “Whonokia was the team ahead of us and they got third!” “Damn it, we won state!” The whole team ran around the track, and Tyson laid there on the track in sweat and tears and thanked God and said to himself, “I did it but next year they better be ready cause I’m coming for first.” As the coaches began to talk amongst themselves one coach said “That boy Love probably just faced the biggest challenge that he will ever face in his high school track career!!! Damn he is gone be good!!!”

Armand M said...

The Bus Driver



“Jay, hurry up you’ll be late for school,” my mom yelled up the stairs.

Jumping off the stairs doing everything to get back lost time, I grab some toast and dart out the door. When I get close to the bus stop I see a new black worker. I think I can finally catch a break from the white bus man Mr. Carson from yelling about me being late. As I was just making it to the bus stop he drives. Off. I run after and I’m lucky enough to make it to the next stop. When I put in my transit card he told “Don’t be late again or I will leave you here.” I sat down in the front because my school was only nine blocks away. The bus driver stopped the bus and told me to go to tie back of the bus. When I asked why he replied by saying “That’s where black trash belongs.”

I could not believe what he just said to me. A black man called trash and demanded I get in the back of the bus. My face immediately went from tired to rage. “Do you know what you just said to me?” I asked and he nodded yes and then I lost it. “How can you tell me to go the back after all the struggle our people had to go through to be able to ride in the front of the bus? It took us 382 days just so you try to act all high and mighty to be a bus driver. I don’t care if you are an adult you’re out of your mind if you think I’m getting up!! Have you looked at your skin lately? You’re the same amount of black trash that I am.”

The bus driver realized that he wasn’t moving the bus. He switched the gears and continued driving. I thought I made a connection until his next statement. He said “I do know my skin and I hate it. Nobody ever got anything being black. Martin Luther King was shot for being black trying to make change in this oh so perfect and fair world. No one has given me respect for helping the needy and I get fired from my job and I’m stuck being a bus driver for ungrateful brats like you. You think you know so much? Did you know that some of the greatest black people in history were shunned because people thought they were crazy or wasn’t good enough at the time. Michael Jordan Mr. MJ himself got kicked off his sophomore basketball team because he wasn’t’ talented at the time. So please spare me you justification about black people. I hate black people and I wish I was white because white people get everything in life. Now shut up and get the fuck off my bus!”
I got off the bus at my school and realized something. That bus driver was partially right. We African Americans haven’t been given all the credit we deserve. Caucasians have been given everything they need because they are white and it’s because of that that we must strive to be better and excel over them. My name is, Jay Mitchell, and I am going to be the next great black inventor.

slayton g. said...

The Better Option
By Slayton Goodman
July 10, 2008


Bobby Helmis was a smart boy but he made stupid decisions. He was on the corner waiting for his next “customers” when his phone rang. He answered, it was his friend, John. “Bobby I just got …” click. His friend hung up and while Bobby wondered what happened he did not pay any thought to a man with bloody shoes and a gun in his hand walk by.
Bobby hated violence but felt like he had no choice. Later on that day he found out John was killed by another group of boys that sold drugs and felt that Bobby and his friends were taking their business. Bobby was infuriated when he found out. In his mind he thought he had two options. Option one was to kill the group and get revenge. Option two he could try and resolve the war with talk instead of violence. He never thought of option three when he could try and help the community by getting a real job that did not hurt the community, and possible convince others to do the same.
He thought about it, and fell asleep when h woke up he was as mad as ever. His brown eyes were filled with hate and rage. He chose option one grabbed a gun and went out to get his friends to prepare them for war.
Bobby and his friends went to the block the killers lived on. Bobby gave a signal and they shot at every house that was on the block not thinking of the innocent. The boys ran out their house when they heard gun shots and were shot on sight. Many were killed blood splattered everywhere. Once Bobby saw what happened her felt bad and angry with what he has done. Suddenly a group of boys came out their house and shot back at them as Bobby realized what happened he felt it was his fault.
Within the next five minutes Bobby realized that if he wanted to survive he would need to retreat and so he ran to the side of the gunshots trying to avoid the dead bodies that laid on the ground he hid behind a tree and sat there with a gun in his hand. A thought of suicide went through his brain as he sat there wondering if this would be the only way to avoid jail and if he should go through with it or not. All of a sudden all he bullets stopped flying and it was silent. Bobby turned around and saw every one on the cold hard ground either dead or dying. He heard a click and turned his head to see a man with a gun to his head. The man had a bloody arm with a gun wound. The man pulled the trigger and right before the bullet hit Bobby woke up with a scream.
After seeing his future with option one, Bobby chose option two stupidly overlooking option three. He went and tried to settle his feud. When he went on the block the boys live on. He spoke to one boy and suggested that a alliance would best. The boy pulled out a gun and said I like this way best, and again right before the bullet hit he woke up.
After being shot twice he finally he finally thought of option three. Bobby decided to take charge he threw out all the drugs he possessed, when he tried to convince his friends to do the same they called him crazy but after viewing other options he was determined to go to college and make something of his self.
Six years later he finished community college and be came a mentor for juvenile kids and saved his community one child at a time.