A few words of introduction…

Every time there’s a school shooting, it hits all Americans hard. We’re not a perfect nation, but we do everything we can to protect our children. At least we want to think so.

It’s an awful feeling to know that you are a citizen of a nation that’s become less known for tolerance and equality and more known for school shootings and police brutality.

What can we do to change the sickening reality we live in?

A lot. This is our nation. Not theirs. They’ve forgotten the meaning of public service. If gun control is the will of the people, no amount of money or lobbying should deter our government from fulfilling the will of the people.

I’d like to share an excerpt from Queen of Corona. My novel is about those Americans who are treated as second-class citizens. Who don’t have access to the wealth of resources this nation has to offer because they come from poor, inner-city neighborhoods. It’s time to change the system and give every child an equal start.

That’s the only way to make America great again.

Ah, here goes the excerpt:

chapter three graphic

The Fly Filsophers wanted to fight. We all wanted to fight. To break out from under that bitch–ass shroud those fuckers got us under, making us think we’re magic like Harry Potter and his gang when we’ve never had no kind of power. No magic, no say in this crap ass school system that churns out nothing but dopes, thugs and nobodies. You can’t tell me these teachers give a fuck about me or the other kids at one of those shitholes they call high schools in the inner city – as dopey a euphemism as any I’ve heard in all my life.

A school of untouchables who can’t be taught a damn thing. Bill Cullen H.S. has never been anything but a prep school for the American prison machine for over a decade. Right from homeroom straight to Rikers. All those admins here and there rubbing their hands together, drooling at the returns once they got all these lousy inmates coming their way. Slavery got a whole new lease on life in the corporate correctional complex. You don’t believe me? We’ve been trying to tell it for so long but our voices are always too small to be heard over the roar of greed and deception.

It was only a week ago that I was sitting in a classroom with 36 other dopes. My social studies textbook open, but my eyes glued to the ceiling. In the still, stifling heat of summer in an age of global warming but no air conditioning for the undeserving students of underperforming schools. My t-shirt sticking to my ribs. My baby hairs curly in the humid nebula that wrapped itself around the room and refused to leave until Halloween.

One of those 36 dopes wondering whether anyone really even cares about the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, any of the dusty remnants of a time long gone. Most of the time, we’re not really wondering about anything at all. Drifting back and forth between bleak daydreams powered by the turbulent windmills of our petrified imaginations.

We’ve just never had the patience for this shit. Who cares about the Cold War when there’s North Korea at our doorstep today? They never tell you the truth anyway. I know the truth because my mama told me everything I needed to know. I know all about my history. But I know none of them other kids care much about Churchill handing Poland over on a platter just days after the war ended. About how it was razed to the ground by a deranged nazi enterprise infiltrating our fucking backyards like a pile of fucking worms, fucking maggots. They tried to be gangster but they’re nothing but the ass-suckers of history.

I can’t help myself. I get geeked up about this sort of thing. I guess it’s in my blood, it’s in my bones. I’m only my mother’s daughter, like I said. But I try to keep it all on the low. Because if you try speaking up about this stuff in class, you better get ready for sneers and moans. They think you’re an idiot if you actually try to use your brain sometimes instead of sitting back and letting it all roll past you like a cloud of kush. It’s easier for them to laugh than open a book. Who in this class gives a fuck that the capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek? Who cares that because of rotten World Bank policies half of Africa is either starving or dying of AIDS? Who cares that kids in China have restricted access to Google? Who gives a shit?

I give a shit, but I keep my head down. We’re all just trying to get by. We’re all worrying about having enough lunch money. And most of these dudes hoping they didn’t get their girlfriends pregnant over the weekend.

Mention Trujillo, though, and prepare to get a mouthful. Half the kids in this class are from DR. We all just spit that shit our parents told us back in the day when we were still listening. Give me a chance and I can go on for days about Piłsudski and Kościuszko. Everybody only cares about their own chicken nugget of history, if they even care at all. We confuse the details but the juice is there. Our ills, our suffering. That’s what we pride ourselves on. Our painful histories, desperate for drama to show that our people have been fighting for freedom, too. That we have our own heroes. To be gangster for real. Like all those people who made it out of a concentration camp with their minds intact.

Maybe one day we get to the point where we can see how brave our parents were for risking it all and taking us to a place where we could grow up safe and happy and get a stab at the rat-race. Who knows, maybe we’ll get money one day? On the real though, Corona ain’t never been no kind of Beverly Hills.

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