Prison B.R.E.A.K. is an acronym for Building Relationships Empowerment and Knowledge
I was sitting at one of my usual spots enjoying a Red Bull and doing some research on my iPhone. Not too far from me sat a young lady. She reminded me of one of my daughters, but she had a look of defeat on her face. Something in my spirit said, “Ask what’s wrong, Dave.” So I did. She was hesitant at first so I gave her time. After about 10 seconds of silence, she started to tell me her story.
“I loved the thrill,” she said. She trembled silently. I didn’t intervene because I could see she needed someone to listen and I was happy to be that ear.
She told me she was 21 years old, but after the year she had she felt a lot older and a lot wiser. She was 18 when she met Nick in the hallways at Gwinnett College during open house. Nick was a local hot boy that found her attractive and made it known early that he wanted to make her his main girl. Being sheltered her entire life, she was intrigued by the shiny things he acquired and the lifestyle she assumed he lived. She had never had a pet name, but he called her “La La,” which was short for her government name, Latasha.
Latasha graduated from high school with honors and scholarships to different schools all over the country. Having had her eye on going to school out of state all her life, her family was very surprised to learn that she would take the offer and enroll at a local college, Gwinnett College. Little did they know, but she didn’t want to leave Nick’s side. Moving away meant breaking up with her “thrill” and she couldn’t have that.
Life wasn’t the same with her new found freedom living on campus. She often skipped class and spent most of her time shopping, partying and drinking with her new love. Being around drugs, guns and quick licks became natural to her and everyone around her saw the change. This put a strain on her relationships with family and friends. Latasha didn’t care. As long as her man trusted and loved her, that was all that mattered.
One evening after leaving a club, Latasha and Nick were pulled over. A young, Black man riding in an BMW was always a red flag for police and made Nick a target often. Only this time, Latasha was in the car and he was on probation. “He asked me did I love him. I replied of course,” Latasha stated not knowing the question that would come next. Calvin pulled a handgun off his waist and placed it on her lap. “Hide that in your purse!” he shouted. Latasha didn’t think twice and placed the gun in her Gucci bag and sat it on the floor between her legs. They had been pulled over plenty of times and they were never searched, so why would this be any different?
Unfortunately, this time was different. Nick’s license was suspended. Not only was the car searched but the gun was found and Nick convinced her it would be better to say it was her gun because she had a clean record. At first, it felt like a slap on the wrist. No jail time, only community service and two years’ probation. But as time passed, Latasha’s misfortune caught up to her and that slap on the wrist turned into a continuous headache.
Although being snapped back into reality helped motivate Latasha to get serious about school and finish, life was never the same. Her parents held her at a distance due to the debt they found themselves in from lawyer fees and paying for Latasha’s tuition bills. Nick decided to change his number and get ghost, leaving her empty and with trust issues almost impossible to get over. Now she sat next to me sad and discouraged after being turned down by the fifth job in two weeks due to her background.
This narrative is far too familiar today. Some women (and men) are chasing a “thrill” to fill voids in their lives, which only leads to more despair. A constant lesson I try to teach my daughters and young women around me is to love themselves and to know their worth. What Latasha had for Nick was not love, but a trick often put on the heart when the mind is not strong enough to tell the difference. I was blessed to hear this young woman’s story and I knew it was told to me to share with a larger audience.
Latasha didn’t get any jail time, but this story makes me think of all the beautiful women sitting in prison because they were brainwashed by a man who said he loved her. Some women are sitting in jail for crimes they didn’t even commit, resulting in lives ruined, mothers taken from their children and dreams abandoned. Latasha’s shot at a second chance is not everyone’s reality and I can only imagine the feeling of betrayal and disappointment the ladies feel. You can only pray that lessons learned turn to stories told that can lead to wiser choices in life.
Curve balls will be thrown our way throughout life and the decisions we make will alter our future. No matter what you have been through, do not let it define you, even if the battle seems too hard to bear. The lessons this young lady learned will hopefully help the next person and can be a reminder of what not thinking for yourself can lead to. Be careful of what you allow into your life, because like the old saying goes, “Everything that glitters ain’t gold.”
Dave Bishop is the founder of the nonprofit organization, K.I.T.E. Inc., Konnecting the Incarcerated Through Excellence.The mission of the organization is to provide mentoring and support to children, younger than 18 years of age, who live in urban, underrepresented areas, and have at least one incarcerated parent. K.I.T.E. facilitates programs dedicated to providing financial assistance, emotional and crisis counseling, and educational and life skills training.
Connect with Dave:
www.savemykite.org [email protected] FB: KITEUSA IG: @savemykite Twitter: @davereign