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My Brother Is Doing 50 Years In Prison For Harming A Child, But I Still Love Him

Her Voice

We all have family members who choose the wrong direction and consequently land in the hands of society. My family isn't any different. My older brother has spent the bulk of his life in prison. So many times, I see people post things about freeing their family members or friends, but you'll never see me do that for my brother. In my whole heart, he's where he should be, and I'm safer with him being there.


My brother has been in and out of the system since he was a teenager. This is his second time in prison, and he was sentenced 55 years in prison for harm to a child. The last time we saw him was 13-14 years ago. My mom and younger brother reached out and tried to visit him, but always came to bumps in the road, just like this last time. They drove all the way to Huntsville, TX, only for my older brother to get into a gang fight right when my mom was checking in to visit him.

I know you're reading this like, What kind of family doesn't see their family member for over a decade? Honestly, I'm not keen on seeing him because the scared little girl that I used to be still surfaces when I think of him. All I can think is:

It could have been my son.

Whenever I think of my older brother, I see this evil person who still scares me even in his absence. When I thought he was going to be getting out soon, I was extremely scared. I only felt comfortable with sharing my feelings with my oldest sister, who used to be our protector from him. When things went left between her mom and our dad, she stopped coming over and it was a wrap for us. By that, I mean me, because I was the one he seemed to torture and hate the most.

Growing up with him was pure hell and I hated when my parents would leave to go to work because this was his opportunity to be the evil villain he embraced. I'm starting to cry just thinking about it. This wasn't your typical "big brother" bullying.

When no one was around, he enjoyed beating us or finding other mental manipulative strategies to make us fear him, and it worked. I can remember sitting at a table crying because he would purposely fix me everything he knew I didn't eat and threatened that if I didn't eat it, I would get beat. I remember crying trying to force myself to eat and jumping at any slight noise because I knew he was coming around the corner with his evil laugh.

I'd get beat from him, and then my mom would come home and whoop us all because he'd come up with some lie. My mom didn't want to believe that her oldest son was a lying sack of shit, so she did what most parents did back then—whooped us all.

One experience that I've never shared with anyone except my oldest sister just the other day, was the time he climbed on top of me and pinned my arms down in my bed. He didn't do anything sexual to me, but I knew it wasn't right that he was straddled on top of me holding my arms down, threatening he'd do something further to me if I made a sound because everyone was in the front living room. He stayed on top of me for about a minute or so, and I just laid there. Without my oldest sister coming over on the weekends, I felt helpless.

I endured every beating and evil act until my sister gave me inner courage to stand up for myself like she did.

I'll never forget the morning I took back my power. My best friend's mom used to pick me up for school, but this time they were running a little late. Well, that wasn't flying with my brother. He wanted me gone. He was adamant about making me catch the bus, which I hated doing because I'd get interrogated by the bus driver since I didn't ride frequently.

After I told him I wasn't riding the bus and went to the restroom to finish getting ready. While fixing my hair, I heard the restroom door fly open in anger. The way my brother looked at me still stings me in my stomach. He rushed in and grabbed me by my head, then started slinging me all around, but this time I made it my business to fight back. We were in there tussling.

I was losing the fight, but I was winning the war of not letting him hit me without defending myself. The last thing I remembered was him having me pinned down on the bathroom floor and me swinging wildly trying to get up until the car honked from outside. He got off of me, laughing with that evil laugh he'd do whenever he'd torture me.

I left my house that day house feeling empowered and stronger. No longer was I that weak little girl. Did the torture stop? No. But I fought back every time. It wasn't until he actually got locked up and sent away the first time that I could actually breathe and live freely in the house.

It finally felt like home without him there.

Unfortunately, that fear still reigns heavily inside of me. I'm terrified for him to get out. On top of him being evil growing up, he took it upon himself to begin worshipping the devil and getting demons tattooed on him while in prison. Who knows what he is capable of doing?

I know I shouldn't be scared of someone, but I can't help it. This is something that I am still working on trying to heal from, and it's not an easy thing when you have lied to yourself for years that you actually loved your brother. There was no way I could love someone who treated me so horribly. Funny, but my relationship with my brother is how all my relationships were.

I feel like I never had a chance of having healthy relationships with men because deep inside I expected to be treated like shit because I was used to it and continued to allow it because it seemed "normal."

It's true that your childhood reflects heavily in your adulthood.

Despite my true feelings for my brother, I don't want anything bad to happen to him. I pray for God to heal him internally because I hate seeing my mom beat herself inside about what she did wrong. I'm a mother, so I understand her pain.

I still don't want to see him and prefer him in there versus out here.

I will continue to pray that I can fully heal from all the damage he has caused me. At times, I feel robbed of experiencing the "big brother" relationship that I've heard so much about. He did evil and damaging things to me as a child that still haunt me as a woman.

I'm still healing from it all and asking the Lord to remove the hate that I had buried inside. I'm working on pushing through my trauma, and eventually my torturer will no longer have this hold over me.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

Featured image by Giphy

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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