“Now Johnie-Lee you’re here in family court because your sister is suing you for $150.00 the cost of make up you used on your clients. I’d like to hear what you have to say about this.”
Johnie-Lee throws his medium length, well moisturized dreadlocks out of his face in a very flamboyant way before speaking.
“Well your honor, I don’t believe I should have to pay her because I do her make up too. I did her make up today.”
Johnnie-Lee said pointing a limp wrist and fingers in the direction of his sister the plaintiff.
“Oh you did her make up huh? And I must say it is beautiful but is it true that you’ve been doing your clients with her make up and if so do you owe her?”
Johnie- Lee ran his fingers through his hair and paused for effect then answered simply.
His sister Toni could no longer hold her tongue.
“Your honor, he’s been using my make up on his clients. Johnie-Lee I don’t know why you sittin’ up in here tellin’ that story. Your honor, me and my brother have been through a lot together and basically we’re all each other really got.”
The judge looked over her notes on the case and then addressed the young lady’s statement.
“I understand that your mother was imprisoned when you all were very young and all of the children were spread over five or six households. Apparently during that time Johine-Lee you were sexually abused?”
Johnie-Lee’s jovial expression turned slightly serious as he confirmed what the judge said.
“Yes ma’am, I was sent to stay with my aunt and while I was there I was abused by an older friend of the family. From the ages of eight to eleven I was in constant emotional and physical pain. They would wonder why I couldn’t sit down or why I sometimes had stains on the back of my pants. My mother jumped out of a window and broke her legs to avoid being shot by rival drug dealers. After that she got out of jail again and started using; she made my older brothers drop out of school and sell drugs too. They’re all in prison now. Our grandmother is in prison too, she killed a man when we were babies.”
The judge shook her head at this unbelievably sad tale and tried tactfully and compassionately to present her message.
“Now Toni it sounds like ya’ll have been through a lot together, some horrible things that most folks wouldn’t have survived, but you did. Do you know why you survived?”
Toni answered in a low almost child-like tone.
“Because we had each other.”
“That’s exactly right baby you two are some extremely extraordinary young people. I am so proud of you. I’ve only heard some of the story and I can only imagine how difficult it may have been for the two of you and look at you now. You are both well adjusted individuals and I can tell that there is a lot of love here. If the two of you take one thing from here today it is that you are survivors and you’re strong but you’re stronger together than apart. Now Toni, go on over there and give your brother a hug before we get back to the case.”
Toni walked over to the defendant’s podium where her brother was standing with a wide smile on her face. Johnie-Lee returned her smile and opened his arms wide to receive his sister’s hug. The sleeves of his blouse dangled in the air. Finally they embraced as the judge fought back tears. When the court case resumed, the judge found in favor of Toni and ordered Johnie-Lee to pay his sister $150.00, the cost of the make up. She also arranged counseling for the siblings and left them with words of wisdom about love, family and forgiveness. If children raised in circumstances as horrid as this can turn it around to lead positive and productive lives then there is hope for all of us.