Home > Journal 2nd Issue
A PoemA Letter to MotherDeath My LifestyleWhat Money Can’t FixThis WorldMichaela DePrince

By: Rosa

spiltarts.comI slowly die inside
From all the times I’ve cried
I’ve cried for you.

You look at me with your beautiful eyes
You look right through me like I was never alive

I am invisible.

I’ll always be like this to you
For some reason I knew I would be like this to you

I wish you were missing me
Like I was missing you
But no matter what I do
I’m always dead to you…

mother_and_daughter_kiss

By: Amber B.
Age 16

Dear Mommy,

I never understood why we never had that close mother/daughter relationship. Everyday since I was little, I dreamed about being with you and all my sisters and brother. We had that homie type relationship. You were the complete opposite of what I thought you were. You’re not in the right mindset. You said that when we smoke weed and crystal meth together, that’s “mother/daughter” bonding. We had times when we smoked crystal before we had to go fight females for my oldest sister.

We did crazy stuff that moms do not do with their kids. All I wanted was to make you happy. But I never felt that connection to you. But I always will love you. I just can’t have you in my life. I want to do good things in life. I have to cut you off.

Love,
Amber

By: Anonymous

Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside
While still alive.

spiltarts

By: Erin Garrett
Age 16

My lifestyle
Is a living hell
Wake up in the morning
Knowing that I’m in jail.
When I heard
The sound of handcuffs
I thought I was tough
Thinking, thinking, thinking
My life is really rough.
Stopped going to school
Just thought that I could sit back
And be cool
Started doing drugs
And joined a gang
Now I’m living this life
As a goon.
Standing on the corner
Trying to get some dough
I was only 11
When a guy told me
I was only 10 toes
That’s what I was
Strugglin’ to make money
All on my own
Always on the corner
Standing alone.
He started grabbing girls
So I claimed my throne.
Standing on Fig
Walkin’ in different directions
If I saw the sight of the pigs
I didn’t have no excuse
Not to work
If I didn’t come home with the right amount of money
I was a fassho gon get merred.

It’s funny
When adults tell me to get a job
But at the end of the day
They’re making 8 to 15 dollars an hour
When I’m out there making more than $1,000 a day.
I talk to my mom on the phone
She tellin’ me to
Watch my tone
But at the end of the day
She’s sittin’ on her ass
Not working and not making any dough
So in this situation
I pay the bills
So in this relationship
I’m grown.
It’s crazy how my mom asks me
Why I’m with this man
It’s funny how she asks this
Because every other month
She’s getting beat by another man
So she shouldn’t ask me any questions.
That’s why I can
Standing on the corner
Walkin’ through the yous
That’s where I land.
Nobody couldn’t tell me nothin’
My dad was never in my life
So I starting stressing everyday
Pickin’ up that pookie pipe.
It’s crazy how cops say
They’re trying to help me
But at the end of the day
When I was on Western
I was about to go to jail
But instead they raped me.
I told my ninja
What they did to me
The only thing he asked was
Did they pay me?

I’ve been with this guy
For 2 years
Now I’m starting to fear
Everywhere I go
He mysteriously appears.
While I’m out there
He’s sittin’ at the laundry mat
While I’m over here
Trying to get paid
My dad doesn’t understand
Why I’m with this man
But at the end of the day
He never loved me
So what’s wrong with
Being in love with another man?
I stay out all day, all night
Sunny, rain, cold
That’s why I do drugs
They make me stay out and be bold.
Girls stay down and come up
Best believe
When yo ninja come lookin’
You better give the money
And don’t leave.
I had to step my game up
Because he had a child
Named Kyle
I was like a mother figure
So I had to raise a child.

I as a gifted ho.
Because I can see my family everyday
But I had to give him gas money
So I didn’t have any option
But to stay down and pay.
I remember when I wanted to stay home
And he said
“You can’t turn a ho into a housewife.”
When I didn’t get up
He walked toward me with a knife
I thought he was going to end my life
But instead he stabbed right in my thigh.
I think I learned my lesson that night
So the next morning we got in a fight
I’ve been to so many places
You wouldn’t believe
But at the end of the day
Something on my body had to hurt.
If not hurt, then bleed.

One month later
In a hotel
I lay there naked
Crying and sobbing
Found out that I was 2 months pregnant.
3, 4, 5 months passed
And my baby didn’t make it.
He didn’t care about the baby or me
He just wanted me
To make money everyday
So he can take the energy out of me.
I smoked so much meth
I used to be thick
Now when people look at me
They say I look like a pick.
I remember when I left without permission
So he thought I was trying to ditch him
So when I came back that night
He started bitchin’
He started callin’ out my name
Sayin’ I’m an unloyal bitch.

But I’m out there making money for him
Chasin’ all these tricks
What happened to the man
I used to love and miss?
Chasin’ after him
Chasin’ after my wifies.
My wifies hated me
Because I was the bottom bitch
So they didn’t like me
Runnin’ from pimps in every direction
100s, 80s, 60s every section
I started hoin’ in Vegas
So I knew we were going to make it.
But the police stopped me
And asked for my information
They said I looked young
So they’re going to take it.
I sat in Country for 2 hours
But for me
It felt like days
Now I know not to get locked up in the middle of May
It was his birthday
He was hangin’ with his partner
I was coming back from making money.
As I heard the scream of one of my wifies
I tried to run and see
When someone grabbed me
I saw that it was his partner
As he came from the backyard

I saw there was smoke
I asked him where the smoke came from
And he said
“Your wifie’s dead, you thought I was a joke”
I couldn’t help
But to try
I’m just glad that
I wasn’t the one
That was supposed to die.

In and out of juvie
Watchin’ all types of movies
The staff ask me
“Why don’t you take life serious?”
And I say
“You can’t see through me”
I never had a child life.
Always got stabbed by knives
It got to the point I didn’t feel pain
Because it felt good when I felt the cut of the razor blade
Placement to placement
I couldn’t take it.
Going back to the streets
That’s where I made it
I always tell people I don’t believe in God
If He did love me
Why did He put me through a lot?

On Facebook
As I log on
And it says post a thought
I don’t have any choice but to tell the truth
About my setting and plot.
People don’t get me
They think I just play
Take a look at my background
And pray
Just know I still have my faith.
I always got bullied
Because I’m too goofy
Take a tour through my life
Cause you can see through me
I’m so brainwashed
I lust for money.
Feelin’ good about myself
When people call me honey
Getting your nails done
Bundles of hair
As I put my makeup on at night
Rushin’ and getting prepared
To be honest
I’m so smoked out
I don’t know what to do.
I know what’s coming
I could be pregnant or dead
I know
Because I seem to have deja vu
Damn I miss my family and all my goons
I’m tired of sharing
Rooms.
Always got beat by a broom
I just want someone to tell me
To be in my house by noon
Some girls do it because
They think it’s fun
Most of the girls in this game
Are trying to run.

It doesn’t take him long
To whoop your ass
They don’t care
If you’re happy with class
You never know
That night may be your last.
I’m tellin’ everybody
I want to leave
But at the end of the day
This is what I want to be
I just want to make money
And smoke weed.
This life is really messed up
You can’t try to run or ditch
Because as you’re leaving
And walking away
Somebody gon pull up
And snatch you
And say
“You’re my bitch.”

I remember when I wanted to go to church
My mom said
“No.”
I turned around and said
“Why?”
She said
“Because you’re nothing but a ho.”
Everyday searchin’ for tricks
Trying to get paid
Celebrities always rappin’
About their pimpin’
Then when the camera people come
They start bitchin’
A real pimp gon tell you
What’s up
They don’t care who listen
Like I said this life is not a joke
I might end up pregnant or dead
Or lain’ in the hotel
Raped in the bed.

I’m so tired of walkin’ the streets
To me
This isn’t a fame
This is real life shit
That goes on in the streets.
Late August
I finally had this baby
I got locked up
So they took my baby
I didn’t have a choice
So they made me.
Now I’m sitting in my cell
Rockin’ back and forth
Waiting for placement
So they can open another dorm
I like being in here
Because it’s a break
But the thing is how long I”m going to be here.
I’ve been here too long
I don’t know how long
It would take
I’m trying to get help
To stay off the streets
But everywhere I go
Money seem to follow me.

what money cant fixBy: Melissa V.

If I had all the money I wanted or thought I needed, that really wouldn’t fix anything.
I’m a drug addict.
I would probably buy meth and overdose on it,
Because money can’t take my sadness
My loneliness,
My insecurities,
My problems.
And it surely can’t take my addition away either.

By: O.J.

The world I live in hates me so-
They don’t accept, this I know-
They lie in my face and tell me I’m good-
But nothing of that kind ever comes from the hood.

deprince

 

Michaela DePrince (nee Mabinty) watched her parents die in war torn Sierra Leone and suffered unimaginable emotional and physical abuse at an orphanage before being adopted by an American family. Due to vitiligo, she was deemed a devil child by her African handlers and told her chances of being adopted were impossible. Once in America, she realized her dream of becoming a professional ballerina, although Black dancers are rare in the world of Classical ballet. Michaela was featured in a documentary entitled “First Position” and on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” She currently dances with the Dutch National Ballet and is the author of two books, Taking Flight and Ballerina Dreams.

Spilt: How is Michaela similar or different to Mabinty?

Michaela: I think that there’s still a lot of Mabinty in me. However, as Mabinty I thought I was being brave, while as Michaela, I recognize that my stoicism was and still is a way of protecting myself from hurt. As Mabinty I refused to cry, but as Michaela I now cry easily and often, which I think is a good thing. When I appeared on College Tour in Amsterdam I cried because my sister Mia was sick. When my mom and sister Mia visited me in Amsterdam this past fall, I cried and cried the day they left. So as Mabinty I had difficulty expressing my emotions, but as Michaela, I don’t.

deprinceS: While the other children cried in the orphanage, you remained stoic. What do you think made you so reserved? And in hindsight, would it have been easier or harder for you to have released your emotions?

M: It would have been harder for me to release my emotions in the orphanage because I was being bullied by adults at the time, and their bullying would have been worse if I allowed them to see how much they were hurting me. So I had to hold in my emotions.

S: Besides dance and your dreams of becoming a ballerina, what gave you hope? And how were you able to cope with being in such an abusive environment before moving to America?

M: My best friend Mabinty Suma, who was adopted with me and became my sister Mia, helped me cope with being in an African orphanage and being harassed and bullied. I think that if you have a best friend with whom to share your sorrows and joys, life is better no matter the circumstances. She was that person for me,

S: How important is hope? Many of our children are physically, mentally, and emotionally abused. What advice do you have for them while they’re in the thick of things and during their recovery?

M: When children are abused my advice to them is always to seek someone who has the power to help them, whether it is a parent, guidance counselor, trusted relative, or a parent of a good friend. It’s impossible for a younger person to stand up to an older bully or abuser without being damaged in some way. To recover from abuse, I recommend that a younger person seek a way to express herself. I suggest an art. Drawing, painting, molding clay, dancing, singing, creative writing…artistic activities like these help a person express their sentiments in a safe way.

S: I was struck by the fact that you were able to contain your emotions in the orphanage but you cried when you didn’t receive certain ballet roles. Why do you think that is?

M: I didn’t dare cry in the orphanage but once I was adopted and living a normal life, I felt free to cry.

S: How is the joy of dancing different for you than other kinds of happiness?

M: Actually, I don’t think that the joy of dancing is different for me than other kinds of happiness. It is part of the same package. Dancing enables me to express my happiness. My older brother and youngest sister express their happiness through art. Mia expresses hers through music.

S: Ballet roles require complex emotions and depth. How do you prepare emotionally and are there moments when you feel uncomfortable with the feelings that arise? If so, how do you deal with them?

teen-ballerina-00M: I think that original contemporary ballet or more modern pieces that are not part of a ballet story, are emotionally difficult to perform because I must give my own interpretation to them. I find classical ballet roles, with known plots much easier to perform because they are acted out. I know that the Black Swan in “Swan Lake” is supposed to be provocative, and Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty” is supposed to be innocent, so I act out those defined emotions.

S: What were some of your coping mechanisms in the past and have they changed?

M: Some of my coping mechanisms were good and some were bad. In the orphanage I pretended to be someone I was not in order to protect myself. I didn’t allow the abusive adults to know that I was tenderhearted. I took advantage of my vitiligo, and convinced them that I was a witch to keep them away from me. With children I used my ability to make up games to build friendships. Sometimes, as a young teen I used negative behaviors to gain acceptance from the older teens in school…behaviors such as buying dinner or gifts for other kids, or even smoking to be part of a group. Fortunately, I’ve outgrown these typical teenage negative behaviors. I have a much stronger sense of myself now. I don’t need to pretend to be somebody who I am not.

S: Reading about your brother Teddy’s death was so heartbreaking. You said that you pushed away the people you love most. What did you learn from so much loss? And what led you to letting your loved ones back in?

M: Ironically, the very same thing that caused me to push away the people I loved the most, was what caused me to let them back in. After I lost Teddy, I worried the most about losing my mom, dad, and sister Mia. My mom and dad are old. My mom is in her late sixties, and my dad is in his seventies. So I worry about their dying while I’m still young. After Teddy died I felt that if I held them at arms length I would not feel pain if I lost them. Then eventually, I realized that because they are old, they wouldn’t live for a long time, and I needed to appreciate them while they are here. Because Mia was sick for so long, I had the same worries about her. I was afraid to be so close to her, but I have gotten over that, and we are the very best of friends again.

S: How was the racism you encountered in Africa different from that which you experienced in the US? Which hurt more and why?

M: I didn’t really experience racism in Africa. I experienced discrimination because I was different. Also the fighting in Sierra Leone wasn’t tribal based, like in Rwanda. There wasn’t racism involved. I experienced racism in the US, and that hurt a lot because I perceived the US to be a magical place where I would always be safe.

S: You wrote at length about your skin condition, vitiligo, and how people reacted to your appearance. When and how did you start to accept yourself?

M: My accepting myself had a lot to do with my parents. They believed that I was beautiful, and treated me like a princess. Eventually, I began to believe that too.

S: You’re an extremely talented dancer, but I think a lot of people would be surprised by how beautifully you express yourself through writing. How important is it to express yourself through words and artistic forms other than dance?

M: I think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to express one’s self through writing because it gives you a power you wouldn’t have otherwise. However, I believe if you can express yourself in at least one way, such as singing or dancing, you can accept who you are and what you can do. My mom always taught us that you should strive to develop the talents that you do have, and not tear yourself apart over what you lack.

S: Any last words for our kids?

M: I feel that I”d like to pass on something that my mother taught me. She always said that nobody is worthless. Every human being has a talent. Look hard at yourself and try to find your talent. When you do, work hard to develop it.

You can find out more about Michaela at: www.michaeladeprince.com. Her books, Taking Flight and Ballerina Dreams are available on Amazon.