On January 27, 1991, my father was released from San Quentin Prison… I hadn’t seen him in over twelve years… All of a sudden, I’m someone’s son again. It ain’t no big thing being someone’s son… It depends on who your father is.
It was crazy how the children in school were slowly going insane. At the ages of five and six, we knew that life wasn’t going to be easy. The least of our worries was learning our ABC’s. What we needed most was someone to teach us how to get out of the first grade alive. It di dn’t matter whether you were skipping rope, playing hopscotch or ring around the rosy, you always had to keep one eye on trouble… and trouble was always coming.
CHARLES JOHNSON was the meanest and the toughest kid in school… and he was only in the third grade… A walking temper tantrum who was angry at the whole world. At recess, he could command the whole school to run behind him, trampling over anyone that got in their way. It was a frightening sight- seeing POOKIE, DRAROME, GYUIN, AND COLESTA fall underneath the weight of Charles in charge of his army of kids. It just wasn’t safe anymore to be walking around the playground without any protection…
Everybody had to have a gang. After I had gotten beat up, I decided that I had to have a gang. I wanted to make it to the second grade. The teachers were nowhere to be found. They were afraid of us. We were left to fend for ourselves, with no one to keep us from running completely over the edge. Maybe they thought our parents had taught us to know better. What they didn’t know, what we didn’t want to tell them… was that we didn’t know where our parents were most of the time and even if I did, I was too ashamed to say that Daddy was on the corner selling Mommy to put food on the table and clothes on our backs.
I would sometimes think about Charles and I began to understand his anger and the anger of the kids that were running behind him. They were kids just like me, who had no fathers to teach them that they didn’t have to be afraid. To teach them that they didn’t have to fight their own battles, to teach them that those playgrounds didn’t have to become battlefields territory for the strong, to teach them that they had the time to play, imagine, and wonder. We didn’t know it, but there was something beginning to cloud our ‘Good ship Lollipops’ Hansel and Gretels’ and ‘Cows Jumping Over the Moon’ and that was… a little boys… blues.
‘ Little Sally Walker, Sitting in her saucer, Weeping and crying, For someone to love her,Rise Sally rise! Wipe ya weepin’ eyes. Put ya hands on ya hips, Let ya back bone slip. Aw shake it to the East, Aw shake it to the West. Aww shake it to the one That you love the best!’

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