Florescent orange vomit splattered the floor as it gushed into the white toilet bowl. I had fallen in deep and I was drowning from a tsunami of emotions and I did not know how to free myself from the insanity of my cyclical existence. But the speckles of undissolved pills and food that smudged the back of my hand after using it to wipe the remaining puke from my mouth, was the deaden evidence of my failed prescription drug cocktail.
As a teenager, I was terrified of public scrutiny – the gawking and whispering from the neighbors on 15th and Capitol. But that phobia did not even come close to how petrified I was to tell my mother that I was going to give her a grandchild. W-2 checks and food stamp books were like blinking lights, attempting to alert me of my next destination – the path that I wanted to divert at all costs.
I had learned that the mother who pressed me to supersede my intentions, was now on crack.
Pimps, hustlers, and prostitutes were my friends and cousins – my biggest supports. I should have been addicted to drugs, but God sent a drug-dealer as my guardian angel and he redirected my path. I was afraid to dream past my circumstances. Failure. Disappointment. Fear of success. These were my benchmarks. I barely graduated from high school – crossing the stage with a “D” average. My ambitions were hallucinations – artificial delusions by a girl who lived on the block. But my mother believed that I had a different fate, so she grabbed me by the hand and drug me like a sack of cotton on a 90 degree day through the undergrad college admission process and then on to Law School, finally achieving the ultimate goal; a graduation day that became inundated with thick black smoke that cut off my breath and forced me to my knees. I had learned that the mother who pressed me to supersede my intentions, was now on crack.
I became the bridge for my mother. It could have been me with a cocaine addiction. Where was I any different? But I was. I made it out. God shielded me all those years bringing me right to this very moment with thoughts of my past haunting me. The ink pen in my hand shaking as I wrote quickly across my notepad preparing a speech on sisterhood that I had to deliver in less than thirty minutes. A lump formed in my throat as I thought of all those women in that auditorium depending on me, Lena from the block, not Jenny from the block – to deliver words of encouragement, when the words would not come.
My feet were gridlocked to the stage as I stood behind the curtain trying to choke back the tears, when I heard the master of ceremonies ask the audience to give a round of applause for Senator Lena Taylor. The crowd went loud with cheer, their hand clapping resounded like thunder in my head as I stepped to the podium with the mic in my hand. My fear subsided instantly as I felt that familiar discourse engulf my tongue. So, I shared with my audience my vision to create a platform dealing with the lack of diversity in addition to disparities for African Americans and racial profiling. My lyrics dripped from my lips like honey over piano keys, flowing my prose into the challenges that I faced by beating the statistics and becoming the second African American woman to serve in the state Senate.
My head turned from one side to the next, telescopically making eye contact with the young Black woman in the front row, as well as the Latinas and White women alike. The lighting was hot causing beads of sweat to form on my brow, I took a sip of cool water and continued to complete my delivery on the challenges of raising my seventeen-year-old son and fighting the system for him and other youth that fall prey to the ills of our community. I shared my struggles with the budget meeting in Madison and how I am always striving to be a public servant – giving back through my life journey. I was in a zone. I loosened the collar on my dress and then shared with them what my child told me – “Go mama, and do what you do best, fight for the rights of others.” His words gave me a peace surpassing all understanding. Their ovation showed me that I was changing preconceived notions – too direct; too strong; too brutally honest. My face flushed a golden hue as acceptance of their energy for my truths, my positon, and my past – causing a centrifugal motion. As their applause subsided, I took my finger and wiped a few tears from under my eyes, and in my most brutally honest voice, I stated, “I do not apologize for knowing who I am and for what I want. I am not hostile, just forthright. I am Senator Lena Taylor, the around the way girl who detoured the odds and won!”
Rain was pouring hard as I drove away to meet two more women in the community that I had an appointment. My icy fingers adjusted the radio station and Marvin Sapp serenaded me with, “I never would have made it!” The hair stood up on the back of my neck. The song was confirmation from God that I had been brought out. A faint resounding whisper escaped from my lips, “Why me lord, why me?” The still small voice echoed His answer between the rhythms of the wiper blades – Favor ain’t fair Lena; favor ain’t fair.
Thank you Senator Lena Taylor for stepping up to the podium. Your life journey is a healing testimony!
If you want to step up to the podium, Sister Speak Milwaukee will write your uncut creative non-fiction story. Your completed article will be featured in the Milwaukee Community Journal ‘s news paper and website.
In a 100 words or less, email your raw story to [email protected]
If your story is chosen, you will be contacted to set-up an interview with Sister Speak Milwaukee to formalize all of the story details.
Sister Speak Milwaukee is excited to support healing in the community through storytelling!