Nev, from Harlem

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Brief Bio

I just wanted French Fries.  A bag of fries…

This is what is all comes back to my in my heart, my soul, the demons that return in the night.  A one dollar bag of fries in waxed paper smothered in ketchup and hot sauce.  It was also what I wanted and as an eight year old I could not understand why something so trivial was impossible.  I could smell them from Jerome Ave and 171st.  I do not remember clearly why they were there, but I do recall we were homeless at the time, so maybe we had circled over to our former neighbor’s house, Elsie, to try to crash there.  We did that a lot.

But that may not have worked, and she we had to find an alternate place for the night.  Usually, we would walk straight up 171st and the cross over to 170th on the Grand Concourse, but some reason we took Jerome Ave to 171st and walked towards Webster.  I am not sure where we were going exactly.  There were to options, Ella’s on Washington Ave was closer, and usually my mother would just drop me off there and return.  Deedee’s on Oak Terrace was further, but we could usually both spend the night there.

But why did we take Jerome to 170th?

“Yo, soy el cantante, muy popular donde quiera. Pero cuando el show se acaba, soy otro humano cualquiera”
“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. . . Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”

By taking that route, I could smell the fries from Jerome Ave, through the piss, through the subway waste, through the supermarket trash.  And I was starving.  Not figuratively.  We probably had only ate earlier that morning and it was nearing 2200.  Being a malnourished kid, I did not need much.  Just the fries.  We turned left on 170th street, a route that took us past a number of pizzerias, bakery stores, and, that fry spot.

I tried to go in and was yanked back, my mother telling me, in a soft voice, that we did not have any money.  It may have been possible that we took the route we did to see if we could hop the train, and the police were probably there.  I tried again, this time grabbing the door.  In pride, I wish I could be like other authors and speak poetically about how I had the strength of Hercules, etc.  My mother snatched me right off of that door.  I think I walked with her, pleading for the fries, imploring that I was hungry.  Until Walton Avenue.

When we reached Walton Avenue I became hysterical.  So hysterical that my mother decided we should go through the underpass of the Grand Concourse.  This underpass was dark, usually occupied by homeless, bathed in urine, and dangerous.  But I refused to do any form of walking and crossing the multiple islands and lanes of the Grand Concourse was not going to happen.  Also, it would lessen the audience and possibly give her a chance to calm me down.

She tried.

I ramped up.

By the time we exited the underpass, I was rotating between rolling on floor, yelling at the top of my lungs, being drug down the hill and grabbing on the fencing to get some traction to return to the fry spot.  I was even hungrier now after expending so much energy for what appeared to be miles.  All the while she pleaded for understanding, for patience, that we would get somewhere, for our destination was still unknown, to eat.  My eight year old brain did not and would not comprehend this.

So I ramped up more.

On the corner of Webster Ave and 170th street my mother spanked me.  Not hard, not dangerously, but to send the message that I needed to stop.  And I did.  I think she even began to apologize and try to explain what was happening.

Then the ambulance came.  Followed by the police.

The police immediately placed me in the ambulance, asking if I was hurt, where I was hurt, etc.  My answer was always in the negative   We arrived at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, with that hideous “B” logo that I despise to this day.  I was placed on a bench in a room where I could see my mother speaking to the officers.  They came back to me, I don’t remember what was asked, I just remember being moved away from my mother.  And starting again, but with less vigor, to fail about and complain and ask for her back.

I was in a group home in lower Manhattan within hours.

“I need a new nigga for this black cloud to follow . . . ‘Cause while it’s over me it’s too dark to see tomorrow"
“I come up hard, baby, I had to fight. Took care of my business with all my might. I come up hard, awful hard, I had to win. . . Then start all over and win again”

Despite my blood relatives being called repeatedly, I even spent Christmas in that group home.  I was not released until a nice “sista” social worker informed my family that they could get $500 - $600 for taking me as foster parents.

They got nothing for adopting me fully.

I didn’t see my mother again for nearly three years.

I never had a family again except in fleeting moments.

This is what is all stems from, the large failures, the small successes, my sabotaging desire for a family that made me available for evil people to take advantage of, the unending desire to help any young men from avoiding this.  The most painful irony being that without any proper support of foundation, I have contributed, to a great extent via poor choices in whom I allowed in my life, to this cycle repeating for my two sons.  I pray for the help and support needed to break it.

“We have predators on our streets that society has in fact, in part because of its neglect, created,” said Biden, then a fourth-term senator from Delaware so committed to the bill that he has referred to it over the years as “the Biden bill.”

“They are beyond the pale many of those people, beyond the pale,” Biden continued. “And it’s a sad commentary on society. We have no choice but to take them out of society.”

In the speech, Biden described a “cadre of young people, tens of thousands of them, born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing because they literally … because they literally have not been socialized, they literally have not had an opportunity.” He said, “we should focus on them now” because “if we don’t, they will, or a portion of them, will become the predators 15 years from now.”

Biden added that he didn’t care why someone is a malefactor in society” and that criminals needed to be “away from my mother, your husband, our families."

Nev x Najm x Lil Nev