#HERstory: I Could've Been a Prostitute
My parents told me their other kids needed them more than I did. After all, I was a straight-A student, so I must've been perfectly happy, right? One would think that after losing my virginity at 12, my parents would question my self-esteem. But instead, I was told I'd be "just like your mama" and get pregnant at 16, then 19, then 20, then 23....and not raise any of my kids. Oh, and they made me get a pap smear and put me on birth control.
I was 12 years old.
I lost my virginity to a boy who told me, "you're not ugly." I had never heard it before, and for this cute boy to say it, the feeling was mesmerizing. Read that sentence again. He never even told me I was pretty. I had never been told I wasn't ugly; in fact, I heard the contrary so much that I believed it. I was dark, had big lips, thick nappy hair, and fat cheekbones. In other words, I was a regular black girl with features that were never celebrated.
A year after I faced hatred and humiliation when everyone at my middle school found out I lost my virginity on a dirty floor in a locker room, I had about three friends left. One of them, my best friend Ricki, spent the night at my house. We were racing each other to the stop sign. (Before internet, you actually had to go outside to have fun.) She always won. So we're on the side walk, and this guy Marcus walks up to me. I had heard that he had just gotten out of jail for something illegal that had to do with messing with kids. He was around 24. He was tall, golden-brown, and cute.
Ricki thought he was trying to get my number, and she gave us some space. She gave me space so that a 24-year-old could talk to a 12-year-old. This is how the minds of children with low self-esteem work. So Marcus asks, "were y'all running from me?" I should've known right then that he meant me no good. But all I could think about was how this cute guy wanted to talk to me, and not Ricki. Everybody liked Ricki. So I simply replied, "no." He said "is you bout it?" I'm from Louisiana, so the only "bout it" I knew about was a Master P movie. So I asked him to repeat the question. Again, he said "is you bout it?" I said "I don't know." He said "well let a n-gga find out."
He gave me his phone number and said to call him, then walked away. I put the piece of paper in my pocket and walked back over to Ricki. She hyped me up as I told her that he gave me his number. I actually thought this was a good thing. When you don't know you're pretty, and other people tell you that you are, you yearn for this feeling with little regard as to where it comes from.
A couple weeks later, that folded yellow piece of paper with the phone number on it still in my room, I decided I would call Marcus. I was in my bedroom, the room that was adjacent with my parents' youngest son, who had raped me when I was 7, and spent the years after torturing me. My parents had already decided I was a worthless hoe. Their son raped me and passed me to his friends before I even knew what sex was. I had no home there. I decided not only would I run away from home, but I would make sure I could feed myself. I had heard from the neighborhood kids that Marcus was some kind of pimp. So I made a very detailed plan that I wrote down:
1. Run away from home
2. Become a prostitute
3. Make enough money to get away from Marcus and be on my own
I packed my olive green and orange backpack with some panties, clothes, and my prostitution outfit: a silk housecoat. It was the "sexiest" thing I owned. My plan was set, and I was ready to go.
I picked up the house phone and dialed the number. Part of me wanted to back out. Was I really about to become a prostitute? What if I wind up like the girl from Tupac's song "Brenda's Got a Baby?" Nah, I'm too smart for that. I'm only gonna have a pimp long enough to make enough money to be on my own.
The phone didn't even ring. The number was disconnected. Did he write down the wrong number? I thought he liked me! I finally had an answer to the question, "Is you bout it" and he's nowhere to be found. The next day after school, I asked one of the kids from my street if they had seen him.
"Mane Marcus back in jail. Police found him in the car with some girl."
Instead of breathing a sigh of relief, I was pissed. Who was gonna be my pimp now?? He ruined my entire plan, all because he couldn't wait a two weeks. Having no intentions of living at home, I decided I would just kill myself instead.
No matter how deep I thought I dug that knife into my stomach, I lived. And I was mad at myself because I felt I couldn't do anything right.
Luckily I survived and lived long enough to love myself, find happiness, and realized how blessed I am to have not run away with Marcus. But understand this: I was willing to sell myself for money, voluntarily being pimped...because I felt no one cared about me and I wanted money to live after I ran away from home.
Love your daughters. Love your cousins. Love your nieces. Love your neighbors' kids. Love.
You never know who needs it.