The book, finding fish, is a poignant autobiography of the life of Antwone Quenton Fisher, an African American boy who suffered a tumultuous childhood in a foster care setting. He was born on 8-3-1959 in a Cleveland prison to Eva Mae Fisher. She was incarcerated for the shooting death of his father, her boyfriend at the time, Eddie Elkins. Initially, he spent his first few weeks of his life in a Cleveland orphanage. Then he was fostered by a wonderful woman named Mrs. Nellie Strange. She lovingly cared for him for two years. One 10-11-1961 he was placed in the foster home of the Reverend and Mrs. Pickett, an African American couple who came from southern black heritage. Mr. Pickett was a kind man with a doctorate in medicine and his wife, the abuser, was the matriarch of the family. For the next eighteen years of Antwone’s life, he would suffer terrible physical, verbal and emotional abuse in this home, even though he would have a total of thirteen social workers “monitoring” his case. In the Pickett’s home, Antwone had three foster siblings; Flo, Dwight and Keith. Antwone suffers so much chronic abuse that he never feels confident enough to tell any of his social workers about his abuse. He is even sexually abused by Willenda, a babysitter who cares for the children at times. Antwone is finally kicked out of the home around his sixteenth birthday and he finds himself at George Junior Republic, a reform school for boys. Even though he isn’t a trouble maker, he loves being there because he finds teachers who really mentor him. While he lives there, he is able to take tests and graduate early from high school. Unfortunately now he has “graduated’ from the foster care system since he is eighteen and he is forced to become homeless and sell drugs for money. The best thing that ever happens to him is when he enrolls in the United States Navy. While serving an eleven year term, he develops self confidence and was well respected for his work ethic and his wonderful poetry writing. After the Navy, he works for three years as a federal corrections officer, and then he lands a job as a security guard for Sony Pictures. The book concludes with Antwone finally finding his enormous extended family. He also has a brief reunion with his mother, who lives in the Longwood housing project in Cleveland. Antwone overcame a childhood of extreme abuse to become a vibrant, gifted and talented man. He survived living in the foster care system by developing a vivid imagination, writing poetry, and a love for artistic expression.
The first cultural aspect found in this book is that of religion and spirituality. In the Pickett home, religion plays a key role in the home. Mr. Pickett, Antwone’s foster father, is the Reverend at the Holy Temple Church of God and Christ and the family attends his church every Sunday. The book states “Church can be every evening on weekdays and on Sundays, its all day” (Finding Fish page 64). Each time Antwone and his foster siblings are taken to church, they are expected to sing. The book states “We would get up from our seats and file past Reverend Pickett and traipse up to the choir loft in the back and sing.” (finding fish, page 103, 104). The children were the choir of the church. During church services, the children were also expected to give testimony as the book states “Each of us kids had to rise for testimony and we said the same thing; ‘Thank you, Lord, for my mother, father, sister, brother. Please pray for me.’” (finding fish page 105). The children were made to behave like rigid soldiers in church and never question anything that went on in the service or what Rev. Pickett preached. One time Mrs. Pickett found out that Antwone was not actually singing, just moving his mouth, and she made the kids all walk home from the service. The textbook states that “the role of the church in African American families goes...
Bibliography: Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, 8th edition, Cynthia Crosson- Tower, 2008.
finding fish, a memoir, Antwone Quenton Fisher, Harper Collins, 2001.
A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Ruby K. Payne, PH.D, 3rd revised edition, aha! Process, Inc., 1996.
Children in Foster Care: A Vulnerable Population at Risk, Delilah Bruskas, RN, MN, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, (JCAPN), Volume 21, Number 2, pp.70-77.
NASW, National Association of Social Workers, Code of Ethics.
Week 4 Class Handouts, Handout 1, page 11
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