Upon my return to New York City, especially the Bronx, there were a few characteristics of the area that I was apprehensive about witnessing again.
Let me preface the girth of this blog by saying that the mind of a child is a precious and extremely malleable thing. What you put in it is very much what you get out of it.
In thinking of my future children (years from now) I put emphasis on making sure the first time that they hear they're beautiful or gifted, is not from a stranger but from their parents...with that.
I've seen a number of accounts, since being home, of children being mentally and verbally abused in public. It is a sick trend in these here parts of the 'hood' and few things crawl underneath my skin and ignite the wish for bodily harm upon another individual. Some of this city's occupants and the way they talk to their children and grand-children is baffling and disgusting. Beautiful, innocent, being told publicly that that "ain't shit" and "won't ever be shit" has done everything except draw me to tears and blows. I can't take it anymore.
This particular incident happened on the "D" train. what appeared to be a grandmother and granddaughter duo sat in front of me as I traveled to work. From the moment they sat down the grandmother was complaining to the little girl.
"You need to stop acting like a tomboy. No man will love you with all the scratches on your clothes."
"I ain't never buying you shit ever again. I bought you a whole thing of hair clips and now you only have two left."
"I'm so sick of you. Don't even talk to me before I smack you in the face."
"You make me sick. I'm so tired."
It was one psychological hit after another. I looked at this silent girl's face and I could see her turning into a mental punching bag for this evil bitch sitting next to her.
The little girl was gorgeous. Light-skinned, sandy brown hair, hazel eyes, and a tomboyish style that not for one minute overshadowed the fact that she was gorgeous, while her grandmother sat there toothless and miserable. I could see her mind mentally filing and registering every negative comment. I could see the layers of distorted self images being built, right through her eyes. I was furious. I wanted nothing more than to tell her how beautiful she was.
The train approached 145th Street. They got up to get off, with a man who'd tried unsuccessfully to catch my eye prior, sat down.
"Oh wait," said the grandmother,"next stop."
Switching their position, the little girl sat directly next to me and the grandmother across. I looked at the girl and smiled. She smiled back. Screeching to a stop at 125th the little girl gets up, preparing to exit, and without thinking I looked her in the eye and spoke.
"You are beautiful," I said.
"You're gorgeous and don't you ever forget that."
She smiled, "Thank you."
In my mind, I wanted to save her from her own involuntary hell.
Feeling good about my good deed, yet that it was not enough to balance out the emotional genocide her grandmother was unleashing, I hoped it made a difference. I hoped in her toughest of times she remembered the stranger that told her what someone in her family didn't.
"She's beautiful, but not as beautiful as you," said the asshole that didn't understand the significance of the recent moment.
"No. No one is more beautiful than that girl," I sternly responded then began writing in my journal. This man was looking for the right line at the wrong time...tough break.