The Day He Gave Me HIV

 The Day He Gave Me HIV. 

I couldn’t believe this was now my reality. I knew I shouldn’t have been with him. His sister tried to warn me. Why didn’t I listen? How could he have given me this? He knew, he fucking knew! He ruined my life. I was a pregnant teen now living with HIV. What the fuck would I do now? My parents are strict as shit and I don’t even know how to tell them this awful news. How would I face him at school? How can I face anyone at that school? I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. My life was over. I couldn’t bring a child into this world. Naw, not like this. 

I walked into my house and couldn’t get over this no matter how hard I tried. I listened to music but nothing worked. I paced around the living room growing angrier. I ran into the bathroom and vomited repeatedly. The sheer shock of this information had my stomach unsettling. As I attempted to stand up, I stared at my reflection. I was no longer the same person. A piece of me died. I felt no life inside of me. My life was ruined all because I wanted to have sex with a guy I was interested in. There was nothing wrong with that. 

Jeffrey should have opened up his mouth and told me about his disease. He was a selfish bitch who only thought of himself. I hated him. I hated myself for allowing this to happen. The longer I stood at the mirror. I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked around the room and I picked up a small bag of rocks and threw it hard at the mirror until it broke. I punched walls over and over again while blood dripped from my hands. I had to talk to him. I had to confront Jeffrey. I didn’t know how my life would turn out because as devastating as it is. I’ll never think I’ll bounce back from this. 
Melissa Owens

Sleeping with The Enemy

   

A Deep Mind Battle 

A Deep Mind Battle by Co Kane  

 Fear.

Rejection.

Everybody keeps insisting this is a lesson

I’d much rather the Universe lessen

All these loads so I’m not stressing

My life.

So much recollection

Yes I need some reflection

Or probably a decent distraction

One that wears a Magnum

Something sexy with much attraction

Lights.

Camera.  

I need some action.

This is a phase.

My thoughts are all over the place  

Let me pick up my scattered thoughts just in case

I’m not trying to keep running away

Yet I can’t stay.

I feel so afraid.  

I go to my Higher Power but i don’t know what to say.  

Everyday I declare I’ll be okay

I look in the mirror and don’t recognize my face

My smile seems misplaced.

Dark, slanted eyes.

Reveals a soul that cries.

Unveils a spirit that died.

Now there’s a race against time

To reconnect my soul with my mind

It’ll take time.  

I got plenty to use to unwind

Un-blur my vision, I can no longer be blind

No one has ever been kind

My fire is dim, it used to shine

No motivation.  

Full of frustration.

Please hold the conversation.

Yes that’s Fear of Rejection; by default there remains a disconnection. I’ve grasped whatever valuable lesson all these hard times were teaching and stressing, and until I find peace, I’ll carry my heart on my sleeve.

 

We Are More Than Hashtags: Death of Sterling and Castile 

  Black men are dying. Black men are dying at such an alarming rate it’s downright scary. They were our brothers, uncles, fathers and husbands. Now they are reduced to nothing but a mere hashtag. 

What has our country become when black men can’t even live without being in constant fear of their lives. Wives, mothers and sisters living in fear if they will return home at the end of the day. 

 

 
Simply selling CDs or exercising your right to bare arms is reason enough to kill?!? (Alton Sterling)

I think not! 

No one bats an eye until the murder of police officers are in question. Although the lives of innocent people is a devastation in an of itself. But just like police officers lives matters so does black lives. 

We are not saying other lives don’t matter but we need to get the same amount of sympathy for our slain black men just like those slain officers. 

Something needs to be done. But destroying innocent civilians isn’t the answer. We need love not hate. 

We need to come together and fight injustices. But until the ones with all the power and wealth change the way they think nothing will ever change in this crazy world. 

The girlfriend of Philando Castile live streams her boyfriend’s murder. Please be careful everyone you are worth more.  Don’t become the next hashtag. 

Ten Second Start: A Short Story

a-a_man_thinking

By  YUV  Writer Randy Russell

The marks on her neck mean there was a struggle. That’s what the morgue attendant tells me as I identify the body.

“Can you sign at the dotted line that this is in fact your daughter?” asks the morgue attendant.

I do as I am asked. He cover’s Erica’s lifeless body then gives me a minute. My emotions are in a rut. That’s my child,

my baby, my only immediate family, and we were estranged at that. She was twenty five and full of life, but now some

son of a bitch has taken that from her and me.

I walk out of the office passing some of the workers there. The expressions on their faces is odd to me. No emotion,

no connection at all. This is their paycheck, ringing in dead bodies, while watching the Kings-Lakers game at the check

out desk. Leaving is the best thing to do at this point, I feel nothing but disgust and churning in my stomach.

The only unoccupied stall in the morgue bathroom is where I let my Chinese food come back out for an encore. For

some reason after that, I feel embarassed and filled with complete anger over my loss that I begin to punch the wall

repeatedly. When that starts to wear thin, I kick the stall wall over and over again, screaming in a rage. The people in

the stalls next to this one almost instantly take off out of the bathroom. I begin breathing hard, gripping my fists until my

nails start digging into my skin. I go to the sink to wash my mouth out, putting water on my face as I am doing that. My

reflection in the mirror looks disturbed, because I am.

 

I sit in my brand new BMW in the parking lot of the morgue, thinking of Erica as a child. The little girl I called

shadow, who just had to be with her daddy at all times. She was deathly loyal to me, as I was the same to her. Except

for the past three years and three hours ago when some jogger found her body on a trail near the American River.

 

Today I sold my fourth house of the week. I was at my lawyer Wendell’s house this evening when I got the call.

My phone was on silent, due to me and Wendell’s powder party, soaked with Sam Adams Oktoberfest, Chinese take

out and Randy Couture on UFC. My only child was not a priority at the time. Carpenter‘s is next after the morgue. An

hour later, 12oz bottles of the best craft beer is in front of me. Milo Carpenter doesn’t even ask, my face says it all.

Pain, guilt, anger. I’m an emotionally struck man who misses his daughter. Keep ’em coming.

 

It’s quiet tonight. A few college kids, the occasional war vet or biker. The usual for this low key, hole in the wall

pub. Just the way me and all the others like it. Milo is old but didn’t ask too many questions. At sixty seven, he is sure

up on what is truly hip with the kiddies. And he wouldn’t bother you if you didn’t want to be. That’s cool with me.

 

I see him at the end of the bar. A suit, just like me, continues staring at me. Rival agent I think. The way I’m

feeling, he can bring whatever shit he wants to. I’d kill him and no one would care. Now I’m talking nonsense. I think

more of the Wheat Ale is what I need.

 

The suit gets up and walks over to me. He sits down and takes a card from his breast pocket. The card reads in

fancy Old English letters, “Revenge, Inc”. “What’s this?” I ask the suit. “My name is Conrad Myers. We are aware of

your situation with the murder of your daughter, and we would like to assist you with your revenge. We have her

killer in Warehouse 13 downtown waiting for you,” says Myers.  This is either a joke, I’m way too drunk, or this guy is

for real. “Who the fuck are you, and how do you know what the hell happened to my daughter?” I ask. I stand up

to him to seem intimidating, but Myers sees right through me.

“The words I’ve said, should’ve clearly told you the arrangement, and the deal my company is offering,” Myers slyly

says. “You have no other choice”.

“This is not the time to be making me offers,” I tell him. “How do I know this isn’t some sick game?”

“Mr. Cunningham, we aren’t in the business of playing games, we are in the business of fixing the lives of broken

families, with compensation. You may not be able to get Erica back John, but you can get her killer back. The address

is on the back of the card. Tomorrow morning, be there,” says Myers.

 

He gets up and exit’s the bar. I’ve suddenly sobered up but now my mind is racing with what I need to do next. I

look at the pristine work on the business card and the address. The only thing I can think of is see what they’re about. I

chug my last beer, put down a tip, exiting Carpenter’s bar.

 

The drive home was hard due to the several craft beers in my system and thinking of Erica on her 5th birthday

when we took her to Disneyland. The look on her face is sealed in my soul for life when she saw Goofy for the first

time. She loved every minute of it. More tears come down my face as I think about that day or just Erica in general.

The world seems very closed in and empty right about now.

 

Home is worse. It’s too quiet here with just me here. I don’t want to be alone tonight. I want Erica to be sitting

here with me having pizza, telling me about her job and her future plans.Well that’s not going to happen anymore.

 

The next morning I call Erica’s mother, where I hear her beyond annoying voicemail about being in Chile for three

weeks. I hang up. She’ll hear the truth when she returns. Maybe then, she can return to reality and face her

responsibilities like a parent and a grown woman.

 

Erica’s mother and I did not last long. Erica was born a year into our marriage. Annette felt having a kid, Hell

being married amongst other things were too much for her plate due to her wanting to see the world and things like

that. She is initially a big kid, with no grown up ambitions. Her father is well off so she did not have to worry about

money or a place to stay after we divorced, so initially, I raised Erica, Annette and her parents had her on weekends

growing up. And as much as I tried to patch things up with her, there was no changing her ways or

her views on life. So I played the parent. I made sure of it because the love you have for your

child is stronger than anything out there. I snap out of my strong mode to realize I am still in

mourning, so I should continue sulking for the duration of the day.

I make a cup of black coffee, burnt toast, and light a cigarette in the house. It

doesn’t matter anymore. Nothing really matters anymore. She’s gone, so I hope the

police will find the killer. That is my view because I start thinking again that Myers is full of shit.

But what if he wasn’t?

 

My eyes turn to the card for Revenge Inc, thinking of what Myers told me.

Thinking that if it’s true, I may be able to kill my pain, and avenge Erica’s death. I chug

the rest of my coffee, take a drag of my cigarette, grab my car keys, leaving my

house on the road to redemption.

 

Before I head to the address, I stop by the ATM. You never know what this is about, and

I might need money so I pull two hundred out. Nothing big, I honestly don’t know why I am

pulling this money out in the first place. After recovering from the brain fart I just had, I make

my way back to the car, getting back on track heading downtown to the address on the card.

 

Warehouse 12 is abandoned. It used to be the old Sacramento Brewing Company

factory before they went under. It is now hidden by trees, old run down fork lifts,

old beer kegs, mountains of pallets and old drums. My car reaches the back. I see two

more cars waiting. A new Lexus, and a two year old Jaguar.

 

I get out of the car and look around. The area stinks of homelessness and other strange

odors that most likely come with the territory. The spot is well hidden, and a drive to get to. But

for what I’m here for, that’s about right. The door to the Lexus opens. An older tall black man in

a nice suit gets out. He looks at me with interest.

 

“You get a business card too?” the black man asks. “Depends. You a cop?” I ask.

“Far from it. I’m a lawyer. Terrence Wilkes,” he says.

“John Cunningham. Real estate agent,” I say.

“I’ve seen you’re signs. You do good work around here,” says Terrence.

 

At this point, I didn’t want to get buddy, buddy. I want to see what Myers has to

show me. Excuse me, us, as I look at Terrence. I need to get this over with, and get Erica’s

funeral arrangements together.

 

Thank you is all I can tell him. The door to the Jaguar opens. An Asian male gets

out. He is small, has glasses and is a complete wreck. He is a bit short, but looks fit. He is wiping

the sweat from his face with a white rag.

 

“The hell are we doing here? The Asian man asks. “This seems like some bullshit.

They bring us out here for what, to fuck us or something?” says the very timid Asian man.

“We got the business card just like you. My son overdosed on some bad heroin and then I get

the call he’s dead,” says Terrence.

 

“So Myers did pay you a visit too?” I ask. Terrence nods. “He came to the hospital

when I was checking on my daughter,” says the Asian man. “What happened to her…?”

asks Terrence. “She was raped and found by her roommate in their dorm. And my name

is Richard. Richard Chu,” says the Asian man.

 

It is all starting to make sense. Each of us was visited by Myers right after something terrible happened to one

of our kids. Myers is giving us a chance to seek revenge. But for what price? Erica’s body on the morgue attendant’s

table pops in my head again. My perspective is clear once more, and my motive and action to complete that motive

can be a reality.

 

“Your son overdosed, your daughter was raped, and my daughter was murdered.

And this man, or group is giving us the opportunity to seek our revenge. With compensation,” I say with complete

enthusiasm.

 

“With no strings though right?” Terrence asks. “He’s right. But, if you saw my little girl beaten, bloody, and filled

with tubes galore like I did. You’d want revenge too,” says Richard.

“I bet that’s like seeing your daughter on a table with a morgue tag on her toe,” I say. “Or your son overdosing a day

before entering law school. You’re lucky your child is still alive,” says Terrence.

 

“What the hell is this, tit for tat? It don’t matter. We’re here now. So now what?” asks Richard.

Richard must be a bitch to deal with in the work place, wherever he works. He is loud and doesn’t know when to shut

his fucking mouth. Terrence I could see myself having a beer with at a bar. He seems very laid back for a lawyer. I still

don’t know this guys at all though. So I still keep my guard up.

 

A white van pulls up in front of us. The driver has sunglasses on and looks almost

emotionless. Myers is in the passenger’s seat with the complete opposite look on his face.

 

“Richard, Terrence and John. You’ve made the right decision,” says Myers. “Myers, just

tell us what’s is going on,” I tell him. He stares at us for a second until he lets out a laugh. He

pulls out three envelopes and hands them to us.

 

Inside each of them are large wads of money. They are fresh, un-marked, and eye

opening at that. Though I can see the doubt in Terrence and Richard, and feel it in myself, the

money, Myers and the unthinkable incidents that have scarred our families…I was in. Myers sees

that we all are in, so his men open the door to the van. “Get in,” says Myers.

 

“I ain’t going in there. No way,” says Terrence. “The black man is right. I don’t like this

van business,” says Richard. Myers just stares at us. He almost looks annoyed beyond belief, but

he is so good at staying cool, that his eager smile returns ear to ear, as he looks to the three of us

putting sunglasses on. “It’s usually best to follow the words of the person that has just given you

a substantial amount of money, and who also has trained men with me, who could kill you as fast

as you can breathe,” Myers tells us. Terence, Richard and I look to each other and immediately

agree and begin getting in the van.

 

In the van, the men blindfold us. The way we are taken must be a secret. You see this

kind of stuff in movies right when the bad guys are about to off someone. But I don’t think that’s

the case.

 

The van stops, the door slides open and the blindfolds come off. The three tough men

pull us out and we are now in the middle of a forest. “They’re gonna kill us. I know it,” says

Richard. “Let’s start walking gentleman,” says Myers. Without hesitation, the three of us begin

walking through the forest, surrounded by complete strangers.

 

After about twelve minutes, I can tell we are going somewhere totally hidden from

society. Civilization consists of us eight men, out in the middle of nowhere. Anything could

happen out here.

 

Time must be flying, due to the sun being way up at the top of the sky, sending its rays

through the trees down on us. Richard mopes in front with two of Myers’ men and Myers

himself. Terrence and I are behind them, with two other guards at the rear. Terrence and I have

taken this time to talk to one another, feeling we are the only sane people of the bunch.

 

“You married?” I ask Terrence. “Yeah. She is a professor at Sierra College. African

American studies. She’s a good woman, good mother,” says Terrence. “I wish Annette could’ve

been more like that,” I say. “Your daughter’s mother?” asks Terence. “Yeah. We met our senior

year in high school and we just hit it off. We ended up going to San Francisco State together and

all she did was party,” I say. “I know the types. I usually represent them,” says Terrence. I laugh

at that comment, so does he. It’s the first time I’ve laughed since I heard the news about Erica.

“How old was you son?” I ask. “Twenty four. He had just turned twenty four a month ago,” he

says. “Yours?” “Twenty five. She made it a quarter century, and my forty year old ass is almost

half dead,” I tell him. “Shit, me too,” says Terrence. Terrence was okay. Out of everyone here, I

trust him.

 

“You two butt buddies done sucking each other off?” says Richard. “Fuck you Jackie

Chan,” says Terrence. “Like I haven’t heard that one before watermelon eater,” says Richard.

This is where Terrence proceeds to walk towards Richard until two of Myers’ men get in between

them. Myers walks over to us with a look that looks not so pleasing. “Racisms and bigotry are

not allowed on my time. And what I said before about what my men can do, still goes and John

here can be the only one to reap the greatness of what we have in store. Make a choice,” says

Myers. Terrence and Richard glare at each other but continue down the forest with the rest of us.

 

Thirty minutes later, the three of us have broken a sweat. Myers and his men are fine.

This has got to be either Placerville or Auburn because I can hear the river nearby. The only

thick forest in this area I know about. We reach an open area in the forest where Myers stops

everyone. Something a few yards away catches my attention and Myers knows this.

 

He walks over to three long coffin looking crates. He motions for the three of us to

walk over. Myers men walk over to open the crates and pull three men out. My heart races. I

can feel it beating in my throat. My breath is slow and sweat comes over my entire body like

a paper towel slowly soaking on a wet counter.

 

Myers unmasks the first man. “This is Anton Ruggio, Mr. Wilkes. The drug dealer who

sold the heroin that ended your son’s life,” says Myers. He pulls the hoods off the other two men.

An older white man with a full beard and a younger Hispanic male. I knew one of them is my

Erica’s killer.

 

“This old, pitiful man is Wayne Garvey. A convicted sex offender, preferring his prey

book smart, Oriental and under the age of 18. He beat your daughter Richard for not being 15,

and that’s while he raped her, then left her for dead. That’s not a man my friends. Well he

is…but he doesn’t meet my qualifications,” says Myers with his motivational speaker voice on.

 

Richard and Terrence are dying inside. Grown men don’t look like that every day. They

have to be pushed, the pushed that only comes when you have to follow honor, or being a man

and Myers is giving us the opportunity of a lifetime. You take what you get, and I am for sure

taking it.

 

I was next. I couldn’t wait to hear about the man that erased my daughter’s future. The

man who took away her hopes and dreams. Her life as a wife and a mother. A career that

would’ve taken her around the world. I yearn for this son of a bitch. I could approach him,

possibly strangle him with my own hands, until I hear his last breath.

 

“This is Manuel Martinez. A paranoid schizophrenic with a hatred for women. He saw

Erica, John. He saw her and made his move. Beat her and killed her and took her for her money.

And we lured them in. We found them for you!” says Myers.

“Why help us? What did we do to deserve this?” asks Terrence. “Terrence, Terrence. All three of you

were chosen” says Myers.

 

The three of us are speechless. This is supreme confliction. I’ve never felt such anger,

fear and confusion all at once. I can’t even imagine how Terrence and Richard are feeling. But

what does he mean by chosen?

 

Three of Myers men walk up carrying small briefcases to Terrence, Richard and I. They

open them and reveal three 9mm pistols. Right there, I could tell what this is.

 

“When I say so, I’ll give them a ten second start, and then you can end their lives and

receive more compensation,” says Myers.

“What about the cops? Terrence asks.

“We wouldn’t have your children’s attackers hand cuffed and at your disposal if that was a problem Mr.

Wilkes,” says Myers.

 

Richard grabs his gun, storming towards Garvey until one of Myers’ men stops him.

“Move you son of a bitch. He’s fucking dead!” screams Richard. Myers walks over to us,

grabbing Richard’s gun. “When you’re given the opportunity like the one I am offering to you,

you toughen up and control yourself for a small time. Then you can feel froggy when I say leap.

Is that understood?” says Myers. Richard doesn’t say a word. He too believes every word Myers

is telling us. Terrence is still trying to process everything.

 

“This is guaranteed not to fall back on us?” asks Terrence.

“You have my word,” says Myers with that soothing yet seductively calm voice. He gives Richard his gun back. “Don’t

try that again Richard. Are we understood?” asks Myers. Richard nods his head.

 

Terrence grabs his gun, looking to Anton gripping the pistol as hard as he can. I

proceed reluctantly to grab my gun too. I’ve never picked up a gun before in my life until today.

But I know how to use it and it will be of good use.

 

Myers’ men cut the ropes from the three prisoners ankles, then stands them up with their

backs to us. I hope this isn’t how it is going to go down. I want to look him in the eyes when I kill

him.

 

“When I say go prisoners, you have ten seconds to try and get away. We’ll see how that

works out,” says Myers. He takes out a gold pocket watch, gazing into it for a moment. He

closes the watch, hiding it back into his pocket. Myers looks to them. “Go,” says Myers.

 

Anton, Garvey and Manuel take off into the woods. Terrence and Richard shoes are

burning rubber they’re so anxious. I’m restrained. I’m piecing together how it’s going to go down

for me in my head, but I am also ready to shed her attacker’s blood. Switch the roles to make him

the victim this time.

 

“Ten seconds are up. Proceed gentleman,” says Myers. We take off like hounds of hell

into the woods after our prey. Richard catches up to Garvey, throwing him on the ground. After

that, all we hear is his gun going off several times. Garvey is no more.

 

Terrence and I are together until he sees Anton. We part ways at that moment. That is

okay though, I wanted to be alone for mine. So I head through the woods. Every sense of mine

is enhanced with great desire to avenge Erica’s death. Everything I feel, everything I am going to

do is justified. I keep saying that in my head.

 

From out of nowhere, Manuel runs at me screaming. I move out of the way as he

stumbles to the ground. He turns to attack me again, but my gun is pointed at him. I’ve made it

ready. It is positioned to kill. Just like me.

“She was just in the wrong place homes. And it was Hector that killed her. I just watched her. I didn’t

really want to do it man please! I’m sorry it wasn’t me,” Manuel pleads.

 

It was too late for apologies. Anybody will say anything so they can live just a little

longer. Erica doesn’t have that option anymore. It’s done.

 

“Did you say sorry to Erica? I ask.

“Man, please! It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me!” screams Manuel. “It was me that did this,” I say. I pull the

trigger. The bullet goes into his head. He falls to the ground, no longer here. A relief but chill flows

through me. I’m better. Erica can be at peace. I walk off, leaving him like he left Erica.

 

Tears are coming down my eyes as I head through the forest. I killed that man. I killed

someone. Me, John Cunningham, top of my class, number one salesman at my job. I am a

murderer. But he murdered her, and like I kept telling myself, it was justified.

 

I make it back to the others. Terrence and Richard have obviously been waiting for me.

Myers has a very happy look on his face. “Good job John. You’ve done it. You three: a real

estate agent, lawyer and doctor are the best at what you do. We take care of the ones who will be

needed,” says Myers. Myers’ men walk over with envelopes. “Inside is a check for one million

dollars for each of you. A hello and good job,” says Myers. I look at the symbol on the envelope.

That familiar symbol I thought only existed on the History Channel. A freemason’s symbol.

Myers smiles at us. “Welcome to the club,” says Myers.

 

 

 

The End.

Weaving Through A Cycle of Violence: Know The Signs

 

DV

Every two minutes, a person is being sexually assaulted. Forty four percent of victims are under the age of 18 and 80% are under the age of 30. Sadly, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Sometimes these incidents are committed by someone the victims knows, this could be a boyfriend, spouse, or even a family member.

There are several effects of sexual assault and domestic violence that victims typically go through when they’ve been exposed to this kind of environment. Often times, they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, substance and or drug abuse and an overwhelming feeling of guilt, shame or even embarrassment. Many victims are lead to believe the attacks are “their fault,” which they are not.

There are places where they can seek help, and leave that environment. The WEAVE Foundation is a place that counsels women, children and is also open to men who are victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking. The organization started with five Hispanic women in 1975 that were helping women who happened to be in volatile situations escape their environment; thus creating the: Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE

The WEAVE program offers counseling, support groups, job readiness assistance and case management as well as temporary shelter through its Safe house.

Meagan Laurie community events and relations manager
Meagan Laurie, the Events and Community Relations Manager

“We helped serve 188 women and about 188 children and two men this fiscal year with the Safe house,” said Meagan Laurie, the Events and Community Relations Manager.

Building self-awareness and self-confidence is pivotal to healing from the pain of abuse. The program offers several resources that help women get re-adjusted to society. Along with the counseling they do, the organization offers FREE walk-in triage assessment. As well as job training programs where the clients are able to do resume workshops, shop at the WEAVE Works Thrift shop which offers professional job ready clothing. Clients are able to stay in the Safe house for a total of 90 days given that they go through their program and graduate. Transitional housing is offered to them as well where they can reside for almost two years. A charter school is also provided for school age children and a Play care for ages 4 and up. Those who are needing legal advice can contact a certified lawyer through accessing their legal services, which offers classes on restraining orders, divorce workshops, and child custody information.

“Knowing that people are hurting and leaving this place healed, is a really big thing to me,” said Ariana Vaughn, Assessment Counselor at WEAVE in Midtown.

Ariana Vaughn assesment counselor
Ariana Vaughn, WEAVE assessment counselor

 

“I’ve been helping on the support line and listening to their stories, that’s been very powerful to me,” added Vaughn.

There are various forms of abuse that several people may not even think of as actual abuse, some of which may be, emotional/mental, verbal, physical, financial and spiritual, WEAVE provides an education in prevention of this.

“A lot of young men and women don’t always have a clear understanding of what it truly is. We are letting them know what could happen to you and what you could do to prevent it, not only to yourself but to your friends as well, said Meagan Laurie.

When speaking about the ratio of victims coming to the Safehouse, there was a disproportion of people coming from 95823 many of those in low income areas which is why there are two locations offered in Sacramento.

You can contact WEAVE about its numerous services provided and 24 hours support and information line by calling (916) 920-2952 or visiting www.weaveinc.org

WEAVE Counseling Office Midtown location
WEAVE Counseling Office Midtown Location

 

WEAVE Midtown          WEAVE South         WEAVE Works Thrift Shop

1900 K Street              7600 Hospital Drive, Suite 1     2401 Arden Way

Sac, CA 95811    Sacramento, CA 95823.       (916) 643-4606 (Open 7days a week)

 

 

 

natural hair style

Are Black Women Beautiful?

 

In today’s modern world, society will have you second guessing everything about yourself, from your looks to your personality. With the current trends of what is considered sexy through the media, you’ll be thinking reality TV stars and video vixens are the ideal beauty to aim for to get a man’s attention. But what kind of attention are we truly seeking? Are we getting him to respect us? First,  are we even respecting ourselves as young ladies? The current “twerking” fad has women dancing like crazed strippers in just about anywhere. Have we gotten so desperate for love that we will showcase all of our assets to the man before the first date. But yet wonder why he won’t commit to marriage? Perhaps we are sharing too much of ourselves before we can really say this is the right one for us.

As a culture that got robbed of it’s heritage and roots we surely are quick to put another nationality’s hair in our head. Now I’m not talking down about weave. I’m sure as women we’ve all worn our fair share of it. What I am saying is if you can’t even look at yourself in the mirror without your “Beauty Supply” hair and truly love what is staring back at you, then you’ve completely lost yourself in society’s vision of “beautiful.” The person you are inside is hurting and is in dire need of emotional repair.  Even the women who are braving the butt injections or bleaching their skin. We all have some things we want to work on but when it comes down to mutilating your own body and distorting your image, the vision that God had when He created you. Then yes, things have gotten out of control.

Beyoncé has a song entitled, “Pretty Hurts,” where we see Beyoncé going through great lengths to become the star, the top beauty queen.  We also even see another female swallowing cotton balls. Beyoncé paints this picture that she is happy but yet in the inside she is suffering from bulimia and clearly isn’t satisfied with herself.

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The lyrics, “Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worse. Perfection is the disease of the nation…it’s the soul that needs the surgery,” weighs deeply.

We as women should truly take the time to love and pamper ourselves. We are strong, we carry the life of the next generation. We hold the household down when things become a bit challenging. We must fight ten times harder than a man to be successful in the workplace, but I can assure you we’re just as qualified if not better. It’s time we let our light shine bright, lift our head up high and realize that we are the prize. Once the princess and now a queen, have him show you how he needs you. Not the other way around. Men, that get it easy, usually leave just as easy.

quote to live by

So take out the weave sometimes, the make-up, the “I don’t care about the world” attitude. Do a true self-reflection. Ask yourself. Are you really happy with what you see? Are you loving what’s inside of me? Time to take off the mask that is beginning to cast this dark shadow of keeping us women from truly admiring our natural beauty.

The Bigot’s Goodbye

A short story by YUV Contributor Randy Russell

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Every time I go to the store, there’s one on a magazine cover, or they work in the store.  Hell, sometimes when I buy some foods, they’re on the damn cover of the box. But worse of all, one’s our president. Yet niggers still complain about everything. Makes me fucking sick.

I work with them. Only time I ever have to interact with one is in meetings or when we both so happen to be in the bathroom together. We should take all of them, and put them on one other planet so then maybe things could go a little more smoothly with a pure planet again. It makes me smile to think of that.

My boss happens to be one too, Julius Elliot. That’s a nigger name if I didn’t say so myself. He knew I didn’t like him or his kind. But he could never get rid of me. I’m Wendell Jackson, and even though I’m black, don’t mean I can’t hate my own race.

This is usually the night that my daughter calls me, so I make sure I get home early and pass the ‘homeys’ outside on the curb, doing nothing just standing there wasting time. Shooting each other. Keep going, you’re not doing it fast enough.

It makes me sick that even though they complain about silly ass white people are holding them down, or look at them wrong, or some shit like that, they’re putting themselves in a box because they’re too afraid to succeed, they don’t want to try. They want to sell dope,  gangbang and pimp women because it’s the ‘nigga’ thing to do. Well go on ahead. I won’t be a part of it. I stay out of everyone’s way and live my life. As I sit at my desk writing my report for the magazine, Mr. Elliot walks by my desk.

“May I see you in my office, Mr. Jackson?” says Mr. Elliot. “Why not?” I tell him. I stand up, following him down to the office. We go into his wannabe hip office as he sits behind his kiss ass desk to scold me about God knows what. “Do you have a problem with me, with this job?” He asks me. “No not at all.

I love my job,” I tell him.

“Then what’s with the constant attitude and standoffish behavior towards so many of your employees at this ad agency?”

“I don’t like you people,” I tell him straight up. He looks at me with a confused look like I should be on his side.

“You people?” He asks. “Yes you people. The black race. It angers me that I’m stuck in a world where because of how you act, I am criticized and ridiculed for no reason. In media, in movies and in real life” I tell him.

“Do you hear yourself? You’re a black man, and you’re speaking to me like this?” says Mr. Elliot.

I don’t want to hear it. I’m over this conversation.

“Mr. Elliott, I bet you’ve been through more women than an NBA player. Kids by two different women, priors, and a large drinking problem. But because you twisted the system, and hustled some money, you opened up an Ad firm where even though you do the books, that nice car outside is probably the reason so many lay offs have been made. Once a nigga, always a nigga. Isn’t that what ya’ll say?” I tell him. He just looks at me.

“Grab your things, you’re fired,” He tells me.

At first I think he’s kidding until he turns away from me to go through paperwork.

“Wait, you’re kidding right. You can’t fire me, you need me,” I say.”

“I’ll find another,” He tells me.

He turns back to his paperwork. I sit there truly blown away. Yes what I said was harsh to a nigger like him, but it was the honest truth. I don’t bother anybody, I do my job thoroughly, yet because he has some power, he’s using it to get rid of a real African like me. Well what the fuck ever.

“Go fuck yourself Mr. Elliot,” I tell him. I get up, slamming his door as hard as I can. I walk through the office, all eyes are on me. I don’t care. Everyone can go fuck themselves right about now. As I collect my things, I yell every screwed up racial slur I know for niggers to let them have a piece of my mind. Security guards appear to escort me out. I guess now I can go home and collect unemployment and not get a job like other niggers. Good riddance to this place. Maybe I can work from home. Safer that way and less chance someone will ask me for fifty cents so they can get a Swisher to smoke up the ten dollars they have.

I walk into my small house. It is very clean, tidy, and not niggerish. I refuse. No pictures of strong black people, rappers or porn stars on my wall. I don’t have three video game systems connected to an overly loud and big TV. Stupid niggers. I also don’t have an assortment of ashtrays with Newport buds and blunt roaches filled to the brim of each of them.

Niggers are a breed of their own.

My answering machine is not blinking. That’s strange. Tasha always calls me. This is not like her. She must’ve gotten tied up with work and school. She’s not like other black girls that spend their days in the city human resources offices, talking at the top of their lungs while real people keep to themselves so that they can get actual business done and don’t bother anyone. Tasha is far from that, I raised her right.

Dinner consists of leftover spaghetti and garlic bread, with tossed salad that I whipped up from the other night. It was quiet, just like I like it.

After having a quick Vodka Tonic. I turn in. Today was a long day that I want to forget. I crawl into bed turning the light off. It takes me a second to go to sleep. I keep hearing a creaking sound, but it’s probably the niggers across the way doing their nigger things. So I doze off.  Something is on my face, I assume it’s my blanket. I look to the clock in my room. It reads ‘1:05’. I flick whatever is on my face off. But as quick as a bolt of lightning, I feel it again. I turn the light on in my room, this is where I begin to freak out.

Dozens of tarantulas are all over my bed. I jump up like a scared girl screaming and throwing a fit. How’d they get into my house? I look to see that they are all over the ground, and even my walls. I take back that comment about the dozens, there are hundreds of these eight legged bastards.

As I walk over as many of the tarantulas as I can, I get to the door of my room. Before I can open the door, a figure with a mask pulls out a syringe and injects me in the neck. I black out before I hit the floor.

My vision is very blurry before I come to. I try getting up but realize that my ankles and wrists are taped up and I’m gagged. Home invasion is all I can think. Someone is trying to rob me for everything I have. I begin screaming under the gag until the dark figure walks out to me. He takes his mask off to reveal Mr. Elliot. Son of a bitch. I begin screaming even louder. He walks over, covering my mouth to lower the sounds of my screams.

“Now, now. We wouldn’t want to wake the neighbors would we?” He tells me. I scream even more now until he punches me in the gut, rendering me powerless to do anything.

“You said some mighty bold things today in the office. Things, I would think are bullshit to be honest. You think you know every black person huh? Every black is a nigger right?” He asks me. I try to come to, but I cannot breathe through the gag.

He takes a sharp bowie knife out, cutting my pajama top to reveal my gut. “I grew up  in a rough household. My mother was an addict, and my father, was never there. It was just me and my sister. So you know what I did at age thirteen? I got a job to support my sister and I because my mother wasn’t going to do this. I did all of this while going to school, and taking college courses to get my business license. But I pimp women right?” He tells me.

He takes the bowie knife and cuts me deep. He covers my mouth as I scream some more. The pain is excruciating. I can feel it in my back. Blood begins covering my stomach.

Mr. Elliot goes to his bag to pull out a jar. He walks it over to show me that it is filled with thousands of red fire ants.

“After I got my business license, I opened a small Ad agency with just three people, and it became what it is today. And yes I like Hip Hop and R&B, and dress hip like the young people in this world. It’s because I like it. I’m not out killing people or dope dealing or whatever the hell you said I was doing. Also, I have a strong love for God’s creatures, and I love learning about all the things that they can do. Take these red ants for instance. They love blood, they gravitate towards it, it’s a huge meal for them. So an open wound is like all you can eat night at the China Buffet. I’ll show you,” Mr. Elliot says.

I start to scream as he covers my mouth. He opens the jar, pouring the ants onto my open wound. I feel their little bodies crawling into my stomach, and attacking my wound. The worse feeling in the world. Mr. Elliot sits there looking at me. No emotion in his face like this doesn’t faze him at all. Tears begin dripping down my face. I want to fight back, but that is virtually impossible.

“We’re almost done Wendell. We’re almost done. Hold on,” He  says. He walks over to his bag pulling out a small box with holes in them. He cautiously pulls out a King Cobra snake. The king of all snakes. He walks over to me once more.

“I learned to be a snake tamer in India when I went on a vacation. Yes, niggers who work hard can go to India. This bad boy can kill you with one bite. I call him Percy. So long story short Wendell, before you go accusing ‘black’ people of being all in the same class and all that shit. Make sure you get your facts straight. Because this ‘nigger’, just took one of the most ignorant niggers, out of the picture,” Mr. Elliot tells me.

That’s it. There’s nothing I can do at this point. Mr. Elliot lets Percy go. He slithers towards me. Paying the ants no mind. He goes straight for my neck and lashes out. The pain of his fangs subdues me to the point, I can’t even scream out. The cold feeling of my body shutting down begins to take over. Percy slithers back to Mr. Elliot who carefully picks him up, putting him back into his box. Mr. Elliot packs up all of his things and walks towards me.

“I’ll send Tasha flowers,” He tells me. He walks out of my place. I lie on the ground paralyzed, dying from the venom put in me, plus the ants having a field day on my stomach, now only death is on my mind, what a way to end my day.

The End.

   

Friday V.O.W. Marsha Ambrosius, “Far Away,”

Marsha tells a story of what happens when a close friends grows tired of the way society treats him as a homosexual male. Instead of talking to someone or seeking out help he decides to take his own life. This could happen to anyone with any situation.

“Suicide Is NOT the way out!”

The Drunk

A dramatic fiction story by YUV Contributor Randall Rydell Russell.

You would think after so many blows, after so many years, I’d be used to the never-ending pain…bullshit. No matter how hard or soft, it fucking hurt and left the same marks. The marks of a battered sixteen-year-old.
I gained a skill though, an acute sense of smell. Certain days when he hits me, I can tell what has a hold of him just by the smell of his breath. Hennessey Mondays, Wild Turkey Tuesdays, Widmer Wednesdays, Tequila Thursdays, Fosters Fridays and Seagram’s Saturdays.

Sundays…he slept. But it was never long enough.Those days, the three of us made sure we were either, A: Quiet in the house. Or B: Not in the house. We would unanimously chose B every time. Unfortunately, it’s Thursday, and Cuervo had been chugged down his probably flammable insides as he yelled at Michael in his sleep for turning the sink on.
Last I checked, you needed water to clean yourself. To the Drunk, turning the water on at 7am is a luxury we are not entitled to.

It is like a marathon every morning to get Michael and Moriah ready, get myself ready, dressed and out the door by 7:45 and avoid looking like Mike Tyson and Kimbo Slice’s target practice.

“Can’t we just run away?” Michael asks me every morning. Pointless is the lie I always tell Michael. For twelve-years-old, he has a lifetime’s worth of anger in him, and a face so sullen, you would think a lemon was in his mouth on a regular basis. Moriah at nine is the only one the Drunk never hurt. Her innocent eyes and youthful face
would be hard to bruise, and then live with. She reminded me so much of our mother. Her laugh, smile, same skin, eyes. She is definitely our mother’s daughter. But our mother’s eyes were full of pain. Until the day she took power away from the Drunk. Killing herself. Her body smiled at the morgue. A victorious smile.

Sometimes at night, after the pain from the Drunk’s beating died down and Michael is calm enough to go to sleep, I can see our Mother. She’s at peace. But what is peace? After double checking their backpacks and mine, we proceed out of the Holocaust we call home. We stepped over a mess in an area I know we cleaned and headed for salvation…the front door.

The door creaked open and the beast awoke. His clothes are dirty and stuck to his sweat covered body. Bottle in hand of course.

“The hell you think you’re doing? I’m sleep,” he said. No one said a word, just like Jaina taught us. The Drunk walks over to me and gets directly in my face. I put Michael and Moriah behind me. Better me than them I think. It was 7:27. Still time to think of a new lie. Mr. Dawkins in 1st period Pre-Cal knows what’s going on with me I think. But he doesn’t care. Pussy calls. You can tell by the look in his eyes and his eyes are on Tasha Little’s tits in the front row.

“Derek, you little shit. The fuck I tell your ass about that talking and creeping shit?” The Drunk asked me. I was lost for words, and beyond done with the repetitive confusion known as the Drunk.

The Drunk socked me in the gut. The wind blew out of me like Tom Brady passing me a football I wasn’t quick enough to catch. This resulted in the pain of a three men tackle in one drunken punch.

Michael, like always, let his anger get the best of him and screamed out the three words you don’t say to the Drunk…“Leave…him…alone!” And it was too late. The Drunk backhanded me to the ground. Moriah was already behind the couch. Jaina taught her well. Too bad Michael didn’t put two and two together.

The sound of Michael’s screams as the Drunk pounced on him could make my ears bleed. Moriah’s eyes are filled with tears as she crouches down covering her ears, wanting the pain to be over.

In school today, I couldn’t focus to save my life. Mrs. Page sent me to Mr. Williams, my guidance counselor, where I lied through my teeth yet again. I walked down the hall where I saw nerdy ass Jeff Pritchard getting punked by Jamal Evans and Miguel Zuniga. Jeff cried after they
finished him off. I couldn’t help telling him to suck it up and be a man. Then I returned to Lit.

Long story short, today was another day, just like any day, where I picked through the files of my brain, just to see if I had any other lies to tell people. As always, I picked Michael and Moriah up at their school, and the walk home was silent. But our minds are on the dilemma at hand. Going home. It’s selfish of me to even think this, but I resented almost everyone in my family.

Especially my Mom and Jaina. They got away, and a part of me felt like I had to be the hero, the man of the house. But no man takes the kind of shit I do. It keeps me up at night just fathoming how disgusted I am by it.

Since it is Thursday, tequila is visiting the Drunk, but he was on the phone when we got home. That gave us T-minus two minutes to get to our rooms for the night. School is out the next day, so that means we have to be left home with him. I am one of the few sixteen-year-olds who hates when school is out. They don’t know what life is like with him. So hopefully…Monday will come sooner than expected. .

Journal Entry
April 4, 2011

I couldn’t stop her. I couldn’t. I couldn’t grab her tongue and make her take it back, because she meant it and couldn’t hold back anymore. At lunch time, while I made them plain turkey sandwiches with just meat and bread, the Drunk grumbled to life and explained the hatred
he had towards us. That’s when Moriah said “I hate you too,”.

The Drunk backhanded her to the ground. The fucking bastard hit my baby sister. Michael went after him first and was hit multiple times for what he thought was protecting our little sister. I grabbed a wooden bat, located by the back door. I swung, and like a crazed ninja, he blocked it and grabbed it from me. He punched me in the face, while saying every profanity in the English language. Stuff even people in the military would cover their ears to. He hit me in the
gut with it and I felt like I would puke but couldn’t breathe, so I fell to my knees like the bitch I was at that moment. Next, he smashed it onto my back. The pain that shot up my body, suppressed the sound
of Moriah’s crying and Michael’s hate filled screams. He hit me one more time, taking me to the ground. Every horrible thought is running through my mind. He stops, and shame comes over his face it looked like. He drops the bat and takes off out of the backdoor. The sound of his 89 Chevy pick up truck, driving out of the gravel covered driveway, followed by tires squealing down the street brought relief to the three of us.

They ran over to me, and could not stop crying. I did the one thing I knew I had to, I told them to pack their bags. They went into the back, while I lied there on my stomach, contemplating. The deep thought turned to streams of tears. We took the bus then got on the light rail. It took us to the Florin area, where Jaina and her thug ass boyfriend Quentin stay. When Jaina graduated, she didn’t tell the Drunk she was moving, and never came back. She’s been through it too, maybe worse than us. But she was smart, but like me, she was selfish. She thought only of herself. Talking to her about anything after she moved usually consisted of a 5-6 minute conversation on the phone. Words of advice. She taught us what to do, how to survive, but she
wouldn’t stay along and continue the battle. Big sisters I guess have that mindset. Jaina did for sure.

When we got there, she was spoke strongly about us not staying forever. Quentin didn’t care because Quentin is a straight thug who is always blown smoking purps. As long as we didn’t make it a habit of wearing out our welcome, he didn’t care. So Jaina had to give in.

She examined us and couldn’t believe how far the Drunk had taken it this time. She was verbally pissed off that Moriah was hit, and I don’t blame her for that. Jaina goes on and on about me emancipating myself, and like always, I tell her they’d split Michael and Moriah up
unless she put her foot down. Jaina just smokes and pays my last comment no mind.

The time went by today, I had too much on my mind. I told Michael and Moriah to go in the back. That’s when I told Jaina we should kill the Drunk. Jaina was in disbelief, and automatically went off on me. Telling me the things that would happen if I were caught. My mind wasn’t there, I wanted the Drunk gone and out of our lives. Regardless of what happened. She immediately stormed off. Quentin took interest in what I was saying. The complete thug took over and he 21 questioned me about my plan. The plan I didn’t have. An hour later he broke it down to me, and he agreed to help if I did the dirty work, but Jaina had to play along.

Persuading Jaina was a pain in the ass. She chain-smoked her Newport’s, and belittled me like she did when we were younger. I yelled and explained why it has to happen. She again was against it. So I stuck her deep, and hit her below the belt when I told her “At least I didn’t leave my family behind”. She didn’t say a word, She was silent. She took a long drag of her cigarette and remained quiet as I laid out the plan me and Quentin talked about. She agreed to cover and seek custody of me, Michael and Moriah after I went through with it, and I was convinced, I would do it. I would.

A few hours ago, me and Quentin left. Jaina stayed with the kids. But Michael was begging to go, like he knew. Like he heard me conceiving my plan with Quentin. But I told him I had to go see about something, which he wrote off as bullshit. But I assured him it was fine. I tucked Moriah in before I left. I apologized for what happened to her. She told me it wasn’t my fault. But I still felt responsible. She gave me those eyes that could read through a human’s soul. My baby sister is special. I kissed her head, told her good night and exited the room.

Jaina told me and Quentin not to bring any drama back. I told her “I’m ending the drama”. I took a deep breath and walked outside with Quentin. No turning back now, I follow through and end this legacy of abuse. I couldn’t help but see my kid brother in the rearview. He was standing where Quentin’s car once was with that face saying “Take me with you,”. But we kept driving. We didn’t stop.

We parked a block away on a corner. The house is visible, and the Drunk had returned home. Quentin gave me leather gloves, plastic for my shoes, a ski mask, a parka and a 9MM. He told me to make it like a robbery or accident, and to only touch what was necessary. I hid the gun and exited the car. I held my bag of cover ups and proceed towards the house to end the cycle.

I will never, as long as I live, forget those ten minutes that will be with me forever. I’ll relive it over and over again. It’s haunting, almost terrifying. I put on all the essentials Quentin gave me on the side of the house. Then I proceed inside. It was dark. The light from the TV was the only thing helping me to see. My hands were sweaty and shaky. I pulled it together and pulled the glock out. I point it straight ahead of me, and that’s where it stays. I go to the living room and the Drunk isn’t there. I suddenly hear water. That brings me back to reality. I turn to the hallway where I see the light coming from under the bathroom door. I walked closer, and that’s when I clearly hear the water from the tub running. As I walk closer, my shoes soak into the wet carpet. All I can think is the Drunk left the water on and is passed out in his room. Fosters Friday. I turn and go to his room, he isn’t there. The water continued flowing from under the bathroom door. I kept the 9MM pointed forward. I put my hand on the door knob and open it. I immediately hit the wall in the hallway, freaking out.

The Drunk was in the bathtub. It was filled with half water, half blood. His wrist was slit, and the bloody razor was on the flooded floor. I just sat in the wet hallway, watching, confused, shocked, angry, petrified. None of these feelings are what I had in mind when I first intended to end his life. I looked at him, he looked helpless, frightened, alone, pitiful. I didn’t know if it was an accident that happened because his ass was drunk, or he said fuck it, and took his life. I don’t know why, but guilt came over me. I felt like my thoughts of killing him, were received by him and he did the job first. He wouldn’t give me the pleasure. All I could think of was leaving. I ran out of the house, got to Quentin’s car and we left.

I told Jaina that the Drunk had killed himself. That he took the coward’s way out. Quentin was visibly upset by it, wanting to dispose of a body. Jaina was indifferent like me, but she says it’ll be easier for her to get custody of the three of us. Then, a voice spoke. Michael said he called the Drunk when Quentin and I left. And he told him off, and didn’t hold anything back.

Then it hit me. Michael got his wish. He hurt the Drunk. He killed him..
Journal Entry
April 3, 2011

Ten years later, things have gotten a lot smoother for us. Jaina left Quentin and married a banker named Malcolm, and she is now a guidance counselor. She still has her thug tendencies, but with class. Michael joined the Marines and is on his second tour in Iran. He felt responsible for the Drunk’s suicide, so he put himself to good use, fighting for our country. He calls me once a week and we talk for an hour. Moriah is going to SFU as a fashion design major, creating clothes and on the brink of starting a clothing line. Not bad for a nineteen-year-old girl with a rough upbringing. As for me, I became a writer. Mostly fiction novels, poems and short stories. But this is the first time I wrote in this journal, since the night I found the Drunk. I couldn’t put a pen on paper about it, and discuss me until now. I felt guilty like no other seeing his lifeless body in the bathtub every time I closed my eyes. The pain he caused us, the pain I was going to cause him. All it took was someone saying one thing, and he self-destructed on his own.

But I learned from him. I got stronger because of him. Hell, we became better because of him. But I’ll never call him dad, or by his first name even if someone asks me. He’ll always be…

The Drunk.

The End.