We call it home. I think people forget that. But somewhere in the midst of all the violence, there is a community. A collective of mothers who trade babysitting services to avoid the cost of childcare. A neighborhood of people you’ve known all your life, people who look out for you ‘cause they know your momma’s momma. Nieces who sleep on auntie’s couch. Brothers who give sisters the little money they have to buy diapers for nieces and nephews less than 15 years younger than both of them. Of cousins who reenact Sparkle in the living room (“What can I do…with this feeling?”). Those same cousins fry chicken for the first time when all the aunts are gone and everyone is hungry. And friends who share bus tokens so everyone can get to school. Where Harold’s stays open after hours since your homegirl’s cousin’s auntie on her daddy side owns the place. Where you can get dollar bags of fries from Jovita’s and penny candy from the Old Man Store and Mr. Lee sold you cigarettes ‘cause he knew they were for your momma. Where kids played in the street—all night in the summer. And then one day, just after 8th grade, somebody shoots J-Baby moments after you leave him in the park. And the boys keep disappearing. Marcus…Big Bass…Jap…the funerals all run together now. And when you’re sure you heart can’t take anymore…your brother is among the missing…don’t need no Amber Alert ‘cause we know where they are…lost long before gunshots rang out…no R.I.P. t-shirt this time…this one’s tattooed on your heart and peace won’t live there no time soon…Still…Despite this…Or maybe because of it all…

We call it home. I think people forget that. But somewhere in the midst of all the violence…

 

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