I’ve always been impressed by the power of words. My childhood was better than some but worse than some others. I learned very early how words could wound and cripple while in foster care with relatives in a Newark, New Jersey many today would not recognize. I think I always liked school because some of the teachers seemed to be the only other adults who occasionally smiled at me. (I attended Charlton and Camden St. Schools, West Kinney Jr. High, and Arts High.) They taught me that words could also be used to help. But I was not mentored and I acted out sometimes, especially when I was bored or unmotivated. My subject grades were mostly pretty good…my behavior grades—not so good. Still, I was always curious and wanted to know not only “What?”, but “Why?” and “What can be done to make things better?”
With the grace of God, the encouragement of one teacher, one guidance counselor, and the programs of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; against all odds, I went to college--Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was deep in debt when I finished. Having worked since the age of 8, I was no stranger to labor so I worked as many jobs as necessary to make do. But it wasn’t only my bills that I felt an obligation to repay. I’ve always been drawn to jobs involving public service. I delivered newspapers and worked as a theater usher as a youth. I was a volunteer tutor of grammar school children while working my way through Shaw. After graduation, I returned to the Newark area and became a Probation Officer before joining the East Orange Police Dept. As a police officer (I never would have believed it years ago) I arrested people for unlicensed driving, murder, and everything in between calling everyone I dealt with “Ma’am” or “Sir”. Words still mattered to me.
I had done a little writing in college (poetry and journaling) and picked it up again as sort of a hobby. I took an adult-education writing course and got some positive feedback. Then when “poetry slams” became popular, I gathered my courage and did some readings at the local library. Again, I got positive feedback and people of all ages told me that my words were not only entertaining and informative, but encouraging and worthy of being published. Anybody who’s tried can tell you about the difficulties involved in getting published unless you’re already a celebrity, so I decided to do it on my own. All it takes is work (a lot of work) but I’m no stranger to labor, so why not? Once again, positive feedback has been encouraging. Overwhelmingly, those who have read "Crosscurrents" ask if I'm going to do a sequel. God willing, I will.
Throughout my life, I’ve gotten less help than some but more than some others. The kid got out of the ghetto; getting the ghetto out of the kid has been and is an ongoing process. God is not finished with me yet. I’ve been blessed to live long enough to work for myself at something I love. When any amount of time in someone else’s life is enhanced in any way by my words, I believe I am yet again fulfilling my purpose in life to serve others as I have been served.