By Guest Writer: Demetrius McCray
Neither of my parents grew up rich, in fact they were the exact opposite of that. I would love to paint a beautiful and serene picture of their upbringings but there is no beauty in abusive parents and having parental figures coming in and out of your life. Bluntly put, my father almost died three times, while he was in my grandmother’s stomach. His father was an abusive man that would drink and use substances that no one even knows of to this day, he was the furthest from a saint. The only trick he pulled that was angelic was his disappearing act once my father made it out of his mother alive. While he was growing up his mother ran into other men, and they were no better. She was a woman that just wanted love but these men were Devils that wanted pain and pleasure. My dad, throughout his years of growing up, would be called a faggot, a nigger, a bastard(a derogatory term used towards children without fathers in their lives) and many more things that no human or living being should ever be subjected to. As a result of the incessant attacking of his masculinity and a need for money, he became a knucklehead that grew up in the streets. There wasn’t much more to say other than the fact that throughout growing up he went to over 10 schools, stayed in over 12 homes, was bullied, and at 14 they said he was never going to see again because of a weakened muscle in his eye(fortunately that didn’t happen). You can imagine why someone in this type of environment would turn to violence and the dark economy can’t you? If you can’t then I don’t know what else to tell you. He isn’t proud of any of it and he wasn’t proud while he was doing it(neither were his ten brothers and sisters who all had demons of their own). His life was the furthest from ideal. Through all of the tales I hear though, the one thing that gets me all the time is the fact that he had to drop out of school in the 12th grade while attending Lincoln High School in Yonkers, New York–he never graduated. This is all because of the year 1991.
Julie Theresa Kittell was born July 31st, 1976 to Julius Smith and Lorraine Kittell. She was the love child. Her older sister’s birth circumstances weren’t exactly specified to anyone, so the idea of parental guardianship wasn’t solidified through blood, it was solidified through the old fashion way– assumptions and paperwork. She went to school and grew up in New Rochelle until her parents split and her father took her to Chicago where she would deal with an abusive step mother that constantly beat her, verbally abused her, and permed her hair so much that it was damaged beyond repair. Also, like any other fanatic at the time, she forced Julie to go to church as often as she deemed necessary. However, she hated it so much that one day, when she was 12, she called her mother Lorraine and asked if she could visit her in New York. Julius gave the green light and his new wife could care less. So she went. Once she arrived, she immediately told her mother Lorraine what was happening and said that she’ll never go back there again. She went to school within the city of Yonkers and in 1991 she ran into a man named Herman McCray 3rd. They would eventually give birth to Herman McCray the 4th(which would cause my mother to drop out in the 10th grade), then me, then my younger brother Donyae McCray, then my baby brother Dontae McCray.
My older brother was a damn genius, he scored highly in everything, in high school was close to 4.0 and he received scholarships from multiple universities and was voted best all around boy in his year. He was phenomenal in every sense of the word. However, his path was stifled by the death of our grandmother. He couldn’t take college anymore and the rest…that’s his story to tell.
If you have any highly achieving siblings you know what it’s like to live up to expectations. The silent pressure, the feeling that even though your parents don’t say they expect something that they do, the brooding moments that follow after you get a B. I thought my brother was the super hero that was going to make it out of the ghetto but through a turn of events and a extremely transparent college essay I ended up being the first to go away to college and dorm. It was scary, it still is in some ways. I know, why bring up everything beforehand when you still haven’t gotten to the main point? It’s because I wanted to tell you what I was going against…what I’m currently going against. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did everything in their power to make sure we received education much better than theirs, the motto is “no summer school and you are graduating and going to college.” The problem is though, no matter how supportive they are, they can never truly understand all of the experiences I have and things I learn. To them it’s a world they’ve only heard of but never been too. They keep me in a good mental state but the fact that when I’m home because I have no one who understands my current state of being gets me in ways that I can’t begin to describe.
I know, it sounds like sulking and complaining but it’s more than just some latter adolescent petty internet blogging. College is a world that you’re told to become invested in, learn, make friends, become an RA, get a job on campus, make more friends, pick a major, study, get good grades, discuss, make friends in your major, so many things that demand all of your brain’s energy. Imagine, if you can, being pushed into one world and trained to be one way but then you get pulled back into the other where none of it matters. It gets dark sometimes, the feeling of limbo,like when I try to bring up something I learned, no one knows a slither about anything I’m saying. It starts to feel like college doesn’t even exist and it’s just a dream that I continuously have. While I’m not going to list my engagements on campus, I will say that I’m doing so damn much but the fact that they will never truly know or understand any of it does something to me.
It wasn’t until recently did I decide to do something more than the occasional passive conversation. I started to attempt to create the world of college within the world of my home. I tell my parents so much. I read every day. I write something everyday and I never let my brain wander no matter what. Needless to say, it didn’t work entirely, most of it was just nods from my family and my friends at home. It’s just weird that all of this is happening. And once you add on to that by saying that I’m the first one to solidify the uncharted land of college for my family, it’s scary. I’m literally standing in front of an open field and whichever way I go, my younger brother will either follow because of my success or avoid because of my failure.
I’m not sure of the direct point of this blog, other than that I just want to let anyone else that’s a first generation know that they’re not the only one. The path is hard and it does get lonely sometimes because it seems like no one can relate to you but remember this–it’s a journey and you have to walk somewhere eventually and trust me something will work. So far I’m three semesters in and I haven’t fallen through a trap hole yet. 🙂