First and foremost please allow me to take a moment to say Thank You for taking the time to read this. It’s most definitely not your everyday topic, but after reading it I promise you that you’ll see things differently, because in one way or another the subjects within affects us all. I look forward to your thoughts and comments. Contact me at:
jpay.com: Edmund Fields #487029
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Dr.
Lapeer, Michigan 48446
I pretty much grew up under what you would consider normal circumstances. As an adolescent migrant for lack of better words, from Chicago’s south side to Lansing, MI’s south side in search of a better life; I can say that my parent’s pretty much nailed that one dead on, because upon the surface of things Lansing was nice in all facets of the meaning.
However, as the weeks turned into months and the months to years I realized that our new city was no better than the old one, if not worse. For instance, in the new city upon the days start I couldn’t just step outside of our old building and yell up to the third floor for Nicki, Booby, Keisha, and Raphael, who were our most memorable childhood friends to come down and accompany my brothers and I down at the playground for a Kool-Aid icy. Instead I was greeted by early morning brawls with Antonio and Javaris as I journeyed across the park to my grandmother’s place. But friends we eventually became, because even as children the divinity within our human nature desires us all to only want to see the best in one another.
After what seemed as only a few short years my parent’s suffered a divorce, and as most children do my three brothers and I remained in my mother’s care. Till this day I can vividly remember a few mornings in the darkness of the a.m. hours secretly trailing behind my mother as she waited for the city bus to pick her up for work. And if ever discovered, never obeying her commands to return home right away, but instead patiently waiting nearby until I saw the bus’ lights illuminating through the dense fog; then I’d turn and head home; only to move slowly as I constantly gazed back to make sure that the bus driver didn’t pass my mother by.
Consequently, a short time later we were evicted out of our south Lansing home, but just before we returned back to Chicago to be housed at my grandmother’s place in the Hundreds, the managers of an apartment complex in East Lansing had a heart. They gave my mother and her four boys a place to live until she got on her feet. And that she did, because there was never a night that my brothers and I didn’t rest asleep in the comfort of our two-story townhome after a warm four course meal. Well four-star was more like it, because all of the neighborhood kids loved dropping by my mother’s place, and even my father’s too for dinner. They thought that my parent’s were the best cooks they’d ever known; which was more likely the truth because my folks could throw down. Till this day I thank God for second chances: for blessing my mother with the opportunity to be heard by someone with a heart to see the best in others.
Highschool was pretty cool. I made the honor role my ninth grade year. I guess I can thank Mrs. Hartman for that one. As a child I practically lived in detention, but when I met her during my fifth and sixth grade years it seemed like schools in East Lansing didn’t even have a detention room. I remember she’d always give me what my young mind perceived at the time as a hard time, by having these impressionable talks with me of how when she was my age she and her sister were placed in persecution by Nazi soldiers, and forced into heartbreaking circumstances simply because they were born Jewish. She’d often tell me that there was something different about me because she could see the strength of her younger-self within me, but unless I come to understand the value of an education I’d never be able to realize nor utilize that strength. And with that being said, she stressed that people who look just like me had to fight just to be able to partake in a quality education — simply because they were born black, and never should I take such an opportunity for granted. Making me read in repetition, I finally got it! I finally became a fluent reader, and as a result even under my current circumstances albeit unfortunate, I am now a college prep History instructor, and also a Personal Investment instructor. I guess that was that divine ol’ human nature showing up once again, but this time through the face of a sweet little ol’ German woman with the desire to install vision in a young blind boy. I said blind because up until the age of about ten when I first met Mrs. Hartman I couldn’t read a lick; literally. But her persistence encouraged me beyond what would have been a limited horizon, and later lead to enrollment and employment with Lansing Community College’s Career & Employment Services Office, and also their Student Counseling & Academic Advising Dept.
Being incarcerated and yet an active participant in educational programming has allowed me to give back to not just my own community, but to society as a whole. It’s given me an avenue to bring out the best in others just as it was done for me, by providing students from diverse parts of the State with a relative way to learn, as well as the motivation to want to do so. But on the flip side of things it’s also given me a direct observation of, for example, how depending on what district or community you’re from the playing field is definitely “not” leveled.