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A Poor African American Family: The Life of Shantel

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A Poor African American Family: The Life of Shantel - Page Text Content

1: This diary belongs to: Shantel

2: Dear Diary, I knew I never should have invited that man into my bedroom almost four months ago, but the way he looked at me when he left my mama’s room that night made me feel wanted. He gave me the attention that I had never had before. I never thought that it would lead to this. I haven’t had my period in over three months, I am vomiting every morning, I’m pretty sure I am pregnant.

3: I am so scared to tell my mom and I don’t think I could ever admit who I lost my virginity to. I want to tell her this afternoon, but how do you even begin to talk about something like this?

4: Dear Diary, She slapped me. My mama sleeps with so many men every day and she slaps me for sleeping with one! She thinks it is a boy at school. I told her I wanted an abortion. The thought of looking into a child’s eyes everyday that will remind me of my mistakes is torture. She told me I will have to pay for what I did – she is making me keep the baby.

5: I can promise my child that I will not be the mom she is, and I will make sure that my child has the love and attention that he or she needs. I am beginning to think that this child really is a blessing. He or she will be someone to love and someone who will truly love me. She told me that God gave me this child and I would raise it without any help from a man just as she has done with me.

6: Dear Diary, All I can do is cry myself to sleep. I look at my son, Kendrick, and feel so hurt and angry. The man came back for more. This time I screamed no, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

7: It was the first time he had ever seen his son, and he raped me right in front of him. Now here comes baby number two by this old, disgusting man, and I wonder if I will even be able to love my child the same because his face brings me anger. Now my mama knows it was a man she brought into the house. She cried when I told her. I have never seen my mama cry. She said that she blames herself.

8: Dear Diary, I didn’t even get to name him. I never even saw him. They took him away as soon as he was born and now I will never get to see his face. I lay here in the bed with Kendrick curled up next to my side wondering why God would do this to me. My mama is sitting in chair across the room crying into her hands regretting her past.

9: In the last nine months I feel as though I don’t even know this woman. She has been there to hold my hair through morning sickness, she has cooked all my favorite meals, and she has even gotten a night job at the local grocery store so she can take care of Kendrick while I am in school. And yet, all this pregnancy has brought me is sadness – I have no child to love, and the child I do have may grow up without a mother – the doctor has just told me that I have HIV.

10: Dear Diary, Trevor and I are so excited to be starting a family together! I have never been so in love and I finally feel like my life is looking up. My mama and my sister have been so much help in raising Kendrick.

11: I am so glad my sister is back and has been clean for six months since she had her baby, TaNesha. Kendrick loves his baby cousin and is so excited to be a big brother soon. Trevor just got a job at the Piggly Wiggly and we are hoping to get an apartment soon. For now, living with mom is working out well for child care. My virus has been under control and I have been feeling fine, but I worry that I will pass it on to my baby.

12: Dear Diary, How do have such a happy and sad day all in one? My baby girl is so beautiful. I named her Keysha Hope. As I lay in the hospital bed in all that pain, all I could think about was where Trevor could be. I couldn’t even be excited when she came out because I was so worried about Trevor and angry that he didn’t get to see his daughter’s birth. I didn’t even know he was in a gang. How do you spend over a year with someone and not know who they are?

13: My mama came in crying, but I could tell it wasn’t a happy cry. She told me he was gone, but that we should be thankful for the life that was given to us even if one was taken away. He was shot by an opposing gang member on his way to the hospital. On the day of our daughter’s birth, my emotions are everywhere. I feel angry that I didn’t know, sad that he is gone, and alone as I am again raising two children.

14: Dear Diary, Last week I learned about a service called Head Start, a public preschool for people like me who can’t afford to send their children to daycare. My friend at school told me about it and we went with her to pick her son up on Friday. I really liked the center and they told me all about the parent services as well as the services that they can offer Kendrick.

15: I am going to enroll him this afternoon and I am so relieved that Kendrick will be getting a good education and my mother will have an easier load with one child rather than two, especially since she hasn’t had great health lately.

16: Dear Diary, My mother is gone. She is dead. I will never see her again. Only three years of a decent relationship with my mother and now she is dead. Kendrick has only been in his new school for three weeks. Now I am going to have to quit school to get a job and make money to support my two children. I don’t know what I am going to do about Keysha and caring for her.

17: RIP Mama

18: Dear Diary, I don’t know how much longer I can take this. The guests leave the rooms in the hotel so filthy that I can hardly clean two in an hour. Then my boss yells at me and tells me I need to work harder. I can hardly get Kendrick to bed and fall asleep at night before it is time to get up and do it all over again.

19: I miss my little girl. Even though I see her on the weekends it is hard to be without her and know that she is getting so attached to Aunt Zola. As if things aren’t bad enough, the boss has started asking me for sexual favors in exchange for a five cent raise. Today he told me I wasn’t good enough in bed and he told me I better be ready for punishment tomorrow.

20: Dear Diary, My life has never been this stable. For ten years now I have been serving the Lord and I couldn’t be happier. My faith has been uplifting and the support from the congregation in all my trials and tribulations has been a saving grace.

21: My babies aren’t babies anymore. I can’t believe how big they are getting and I am so proud of them. Kendrick has struggled in middle school, but the tutors from Meredith College have been such a blessing. Keysha is also in a program with the Meredith tutors called Meredith Reads. They come to her school and read to her each week to make sure that she is keeping up with her classmates.

22: Dear Diary, Just this past weekend, I went to Kendrick’s first football tournament. I could tell it was the highlight of his life. He was such the star player, and he scored three touchdowns! After such a great weekend I could never had imagined such an awful week to follow. Today I got a visit from a social worker named Dave. He was questioning me about bruises on Kendrick that someone had reported.

23: I tried to explain that Kendrick played football every day and he was really vulnerable to bruising. I was speechless as the man talked to me, thinking that anyone would suspect that I was abusing my child. I have a feeling that it was one of his teachers at school who is very disrespectful to me in all of our interactions. I have heard her making racist remarks about single, African American women.

24: Dear Diary, I am so thankful that Kendrick has such a wonderful coach as a mentor and for support. Kendrick’s coach spoke to the social worker last week on behalf of our family and vouched that Kendrick’s bruises were from his practices each day. With the character witnesses and after spending hours in our home over four different visits, the social worker told me that the investigation was over. I am relieved but still so hurt about this, and it will surely be an

25: experience that I never forget. The neighbor across the street beats his wife and son almost daily and I have never seen authorities at his home, but I have never laid a finger on my son and I am the one who had to go through this process. It felt so intrusive to have authorities in my home and insulting to be asked so many questions about my parenting skills. I hope and pray to the Lord above that my family never has to go through that again.

26: Dear Diary, I am the most proud mom in North Carolina! My baby boy has been offered two football scholarships and today he received a McDonald’s employee scholarship for his commitment and hard work. I can’t wait to see him graduate next month as the first member of our family to complete high school. I just wish mama was here to see Kendrick walk across that stage. I could never have asked for better children.

27: I have had my fair share of struggles, but I have had such a blessed life and I have so much to be thankful for.

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  • Title: A Poor African American Family: The Life of Shantel
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