How can I write about a Black woman in the hood? I grew up there. I was born to a single mother on welfare in the county hospital. From my early childhood on throughout my teen years we bounced around a lot; always in the hood and often in the government housing projects. Also, my wife of 30+ years, who helps with these books, was a pregnant teen right in the middle of Compton (L.A. Calif).
The language in the hood changes almost daily, but the people . . . they remain exactly the same.
As the only boy in the family I was surrounded by women. My mother's house was where the neighborhood women gathered to talk. If you have ever been around that type of situation, you know how little boys become invisible and the women talk about anything and everything. If women talk about it, I've heard it.
My world oscillated between inside and outside. The guys outside, the women inside. The guys started stupid and tough on the playground and eventually on the streets and in jail. The women wasted a lot of time talking about the idiot moves us guys did. My "safe place" was books.
Hard to believe, but way back when I was a kid, TVs were expensive. We didn't have one, so I grew up reading. From early on I could get lost in, The Little Train That Could, or later in books like, Lobo in the Wild. Reading was a joy, but because we moved so often, school was arduous. After attending eighteen schools, I dropped out of high school during my senior year and joined the army. Later, with my military duty finished I returned to night school where my love of words payed off. Eventually I became the first in my family to graduate from university.
As adults, many of my childhood friends went to jail. I stayed out, wore a badge and gun, and occasionally ran into old acquaintances in the system.
In more recent years I worked overseas. For almost eleven years we lived in Vietnam and Thailand where I worked with the rich and influential then spent vacations in shacks with dirt floors and caught frogs in rice paddies for dinner. It's also where Michelle Angelique went through her training. The things Michelle talks about are based on my real experiences and people I met. Of course, I never did any of the ninja stuff.
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