Cherie Livett Bombell

Kids Behind Bars, Geneva Illinois

Browsing Posts tagged young offenders

Graveyard

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Her identity was never discovered so no one could be notified. Friends and family that knew her, loved her and grieved for her never found out what happened or where she is.

I remember a beautiful girl, Denise, 11 years old and incarcerated for truancy. She would sit in the TV room at night and rock forward and back, forward and back, her arms encircling her body in an attempted hug. Taking a young girl out of her family home for truancy was and is a terrible thing to do. Her innocence was exposed to older and wilder girls that had life experiences Denise couldn’t comprehend. She was a beautiful, innocent child and you can bet if she’d been white, she would never have heard of ‘Geneva’.

I couldn’t understand the African American accent and expressions like “jive time’, ‘dozens’, ‘your momma’ and ‘square’ (cigarettes), left me bewildered. And I missed the verbs – ‘You ok, Miss Livett’ confounded my grammatically correct ear. Although the roots of rap were already there, the music didn’t exist to educate the masses to the rich and vibrant culture of black Americans. I was middle-class-stupid and was in the classroom of my life.

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