My entire life I had been hearing this said by my mother. A hard head will leave you with a soft behind. The hardworking single parent never used corporal punishment on me as a youth but she always reminded me of the hard knocks life would offer me if I didn’t make wise decisions, follow the rules or the law. Every time I fell in my young life due to lack of discipline she would remind me, a hard head…
I never kept the best company and Mama knew it, she warned me.
“Son you need to surround yourself with like minded people. As a young Black Male you are not afforded many mistakes in life. You are a good student with great potential so why do you hang around with juvenile delinquents? You are on the path to earning yourself a college education and many of those boys are on the path to jail and then maybe prison. You are the company that you keep son; have you ever heard the term guilt by association?”
I nodded my head in the affirmative. She continued to lecture me but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. A week later I was detained by the police for shoplifting. I hadn’t actually stolen anything but I was with the boys who did. One of them blamed me so the police had to sort it out. They were inclined to charge all of us but my strong mother fought hard for me. After hours of being detained I was finally released once they viewed the footage from the store’s security cameras. It clearly showed my accuser stealing the items and me on the other side of the store while he was doing it. My mother threatening to get the media involved helped to speed up my release.
She punished me by taking away many of my privileges and grounding me for a week. I still didn’t learn, kept many of the same friends. I did however get accepted to a four year university and even received a partial scholarship. Now home on break I was back out with my old “friends”. They hadn’t changed much and apparently neither had I, hard headed as ever.
Now here I lay on the cold asphalt bleeding from wounds inflicted by police officers’ 9mm handguns. Apparently my “friends” were now involved in more serious criminal activity. When we were pulled over and removed from the vehicle, my “friends” took off running and the cops started shooting. I remained still with my hands up yet I was the only one hit, several times. I don’t know what they found in that vehicle but once I was down I could hear my mother’s voice in the distance calling for me, calling on Jesus for help. She cried, she screamed but they wouldn’t let her near me. I couldn’t see her face as the red in my eyes slowly faded to black. The sirens, the noise of the police and outraged residents witnessing yet another Black Male being shot in the street started to escape me. I only wanted to tell my mama that I was sorry but the blood in my lungs, throat and mouth wouldn’t allow me to speak. Mama always told me that a hard head could lead to a soft behind but I never in my wildest dreams believed that it might leave me dead.