I was born and raised in Compton, California in the early 1970s to an unwed teenaged mom. Although my parents were never married, my father was always in the picture, until he began to abuse drugs and introduced them to my mother. Not wanting to have their granddaughter exposed to drugs, my grandparents took and raised me. Living in Compton in the 1970s, we were considered upper middle class because my grandparents owned their home, we had two cars and my grandfather worked for the railroad. I have an uncle that is a year older than I am, so growing up, people always assumed we were brother and sister and so did we. Back in those days, it was not uncommon for African Americans families to have aunts and uncles that were the same age as their nieces and nephews; just like it wasn’t uncommon for grandparents to raise their grandchildren. Compton had its share of gang bangers, drug addicts, pimps and prostitutes, and most of my family members were affiliated with at least one of them. My grandparents tried to shield me from the dangers of the street, but it didn’t work. I remember one night my uncle was high on the drug “sherm” and broke into our house. My grandfather shot him, thankfully he didn’t kill him. I will never forget that night as long as I live for many reasons: 1) I was scared because I thought someone was going to kill us; 2) I never seen anyone shot before or that much blood; 3) I would never thought a parent would knowingly shoot their own child; 4) I couldn’t believe that my uncle would stoop so low and try to rob his own parents; 5) seeing my grandfather taken away in handcuffs and my uncle in a stretcher; 6) my grandmother screaming. My grandfather was never charged for the shooting. That night changed everyone’s lives and it was not good. My grandparents were separated for a while, my drug addict uncle went to jail after he was released from the hospital and my uncle/brother and I got into a lot of fights at...
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