Ghetto Girl releasing Oct. 2015

Ghetto Girl releasing Oct. 2015

A Story by Jack V.

I removed my fear my unease and I wrote a book. I'll never be comfortable with the contents therein, but it was my life. Here's a preview of what to expect in Oct. 2015 when I release: Ghetto girl.



I've been afraid to write this book. The first one showed how I was a victim; this second will show people how I was to blame. I hope it does more than that. I hope it explains why I have done what I've done. I want it to explain why people are "stuck" in poverty, uneducated, led to crime; and I want it to explain why people have prejudices stacked against them.

I always knew I didn't belong to the conditions I was given. I came close to losing it, came close to thinking I belonged; really thought I was a member of the Ghetto and would remain chained to its invisible walls. But I eventually came to find my way out. I had a group of mentors involved in my life, pouring their work into me for over a decade. They taught me to come out, encouraged me to do something better with my life. I found a hand which had broken through the walls and I grabbed, never to let go.

These are the words I'll give you, lowly-people-of-the-ghettos. I remember how I got pissed off any time I saw someone in fine clothing look at the frayed edges on my jeans and my faded shirt because I couldn’t afford to continually buy new clothes. I remember the comments and judgment when someone saw my tattoos. I remember the fear some of them showed me when they saw my facial piercings. I remember the men looking at my breasts because I wore makeup and flashy jewelry while the women would tell their friends, "I can't believe she would dress like that. She's just looking for attention." I remember acting out when I saw someone ignoring me, because I assumed they were judging me and know “it’s best not to interact with her.” I remember hearing pity in peoples' voices and hearing, “You’re interested in college? That’s great, but why not technical school? It's going to be okay if you don't get into the college of your choice. Why don't you set the bar a little lower? Are you sure you want to try that? It's a lot of money to lose if you can't finish it because of the difficulty." I remember the judgment. The pity. The avoidance. The shunning. I remember being prepped for disappointment and not being encouraged to strive for the unreachable. I remember "knowing my worth.” It's not pleasant to know you're not good enough. I remember that feeling. I don't know how to forget and unfortunately neither will you; but maybe you'll have a chance to say, "I remember." and it will be no more.




It is a dumping ground for unused items. It is a place with sex, violence, despair, cries, fear, street wars, stealing, lying, cheating, abuse, grief, death, famine, obesity, disease, drugs, crime, racism, bigotry, sexism, mistrust, and so much more. It is a time and place which teaches you how to survive.

            When I first came to Purdue to study for my Bachelor's degree, I befriended a man named Steven. He’s homeless and asks for quarters, day in and day out. He listens to a classical music station on his portable radio, hidden beneath his musty hooded jacket. Sometimes he chooses Talk Radio. At one time he appreciated Jack London (I know because I asked him what type of books he likes to read and he told me Call of the Wild). He used to live and work in the Ag fields until he injured himself and became unemployed. He now mumbles to himself and looks for quarters from passersby. I remember him telling me, “(he’s) got a good gig here.” I see that he’s accepted his position as a beggar of quarters and smelling of grunge and dirt. He’s accepted that people will see him as a “scraggly-beard-missing-teeth-and-torn-and-stained-jeans” so that they can cross the road to avoid him. A friend of mine told me she did that once. She felt bad afterward. It was instinct. But Steven has accepted that he is to wear a badge of isolation.

            I used to wear that badge of shame when I was 16, living in River Rouge, and many times previously. I had little regard for propriety when I knew my mother collected our clothes from the trash. As it turned out the woman living across the alleyway behind our house, was a hoarder. Every day she would dumpster dive and find treasure troves of discarded possessions. My mother befriended her and therefore we had a constant stream of clothing. I’d steal toilet paper from school, stuffing extra rolls into my backpack just before heading home, so that we had something to wipe our asses with instead of newspaper or advertisements. I'd sit during lunch hours with a gurgling stomach, waiting for someone to offer anything to nibble on. We didn't have lunch to bring with us. Usually, out of stupid pride I'd say, "No thanks. I'm not hungry. I had a big breakfast." But damn if I didn't even have more than a bowl of cereal with powdered milk for breakfast earlier that morning and dinner wouldn't come until 10 that night.

When I walk through my old neighborhood today, I'm stared at. It's her; she thinks she's better than us. I remember her. She ain’t no better. I'm gonna remind her where she comes from. People turn on one another and we keep ourselves down. Don't you see it? People in the ghetto are taught and convinced their neighbor, going through the exact same hell of nothingness, is the ultimate enemy. We shouldn't help each other, we should hate each other. Be better than one another. The Greeks had money so they stood on the poor Whites. The poor Whites were at least White so they stood on the poor Blacks. The poor Blacks at least spoke English so they stood on the immigrant Chinese and Mexicans. The immigrant Chinese and Mexicans didn’t want their green cards revoked and so they never said anything about our treatment. But, they stood on the rest of us because we bought their products.

            I remember being taught by example to turn on others.

“You can’t trust nobody in this world.”

So many times I heard those words; friends spoke them, family spoke them.

Hell, I remember sitting in A-Best-Friend’s living room staring, dumbfounded, as she told me, “You can’t trust nobody in this world, especially your friends. You think I give a s**t about you? You really think that? You’re stupid Jack.” She’d blow her cigarette smoke through her nostrils, “Don’t let nobody tell you you’re special, ‘cause you’re not. You ain’t s**t. I won’t give two-s***s to kick your a*s if I have to. To call up some of my boys and have them come over and rape you, tell them to slip into your room late night and murder you and your entire family if I need to. Don’t trust nobody, you got it?”

            I was told, by the principal of my new school, River Rouge High School, what colors I could not wear. I loved purple but I couldn't wear it with black. I couldn't mix blue and black, red and black, gold and black. Essentially, don't wear two colors or anything with black and you'd be safe. I had a curfew. I had enemies before I even sat down in my first class. I didn't survive in that school. Two months in and I had been beaten in two fights with a third lined up.

I skipped school as often as possible, and hung out with a group of friends living within a four block radius. We were a range of ages with the oldest over 18. Some of us better than others, but most of us were dumb and as ignorant as the next. I began smoking to stay cool with them; drank when they passed a bottle around. I needed friends. Without them I was going to get beaten all over again. Loners are singled out in the hood. They're dead in two seconds, raped or beaten with no one to cry over them except a mother. My crew wore baggy clothing and chains. The females, myself included, wore tight tops. The only thing we had going for us was to secure a protective male to stick by us, and we had only our bodies to secure the fittest male. Thankfully I developed curves at a young age and so I had guys lined up to date me. I didn't know how to handle the attention and select the best of the best so I just took the first eager soul, examined him for competency then dumped him the moment I realized he’d try to touch. I refused to put out. I had a reputation (s**t/w***e) at 14: Still a virgin.

            When I refused to date and have idiots grabbing at me, I used other talents. I had learned by accident how to steal when I was only a kid, not even double digits. I took a box of chocolates in a grocery store when my mother wasn’t looking and hid in the circular rack of clothes to eat them. From thereon I was hooked. I knew if I could find a way to avoid peoples’ eyes I’d have what I wanted. At first it was just sweets, but then it became larger items by the time I became 12. It ended that year as well. As quickly as it began, it ended. But when in Rouge you need a con.

            I made a promise to give up stealing. But when you’re ignorant to the streets and susceptible to a raping or molesting, you need something to fall back on. And when I refused to have a guy around me for protection, I needed a way to show my friends I was valuable enough for them to sacrifice their personal well-being in place of my own.

            I was smoking by age 14, and preferred to down a Pepsi each time I lit up a pack of cigarettes. Kids always knew they could bum a smoke off me, because I had them in stock. I knew how to get money for smokes. We were all poor and most of our parents guarded their cigarettes like they did their money. I was safeguarded as a valuable resource. And this was how: I took to the streets of the neighborhood my foster family lived in. I couldn’t stand them. They had money, our city did not. A simple bridge separated us metaphorically in the means of wealth and literally in cement. On the weekends I would walk over the bridge with a coffee can and construction paper wrapped around it reading S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Drivers). I knocked on the doors just a block away from my foster mother’s dwelling and said that I was with the River Rouge High School and that we were taking donations for this cause. “Would you care to support us?” Most of the people eyed me suspiciously and dropped a few coins in the can then slammed their doors. I had to change my tactic when someone rudely told me he knew I was running a scam and to beat it.

Foiled and fumbled, I did the math. I needed $5.00 each day to get by with a pack of smokes and Pepsi. Funny enough, it took place in a math class that I found my way to begin my newest con. Some chic was gabbing about a chocolate candy fundraiser to support some random group at school I wasn’t interested in. I asked to look over the booklet and saw the prices of the chocolate. I asked her if I could borrow it. She agreed. I went back to the same city but traveled a mile deeper than the neighborhood of my foster family; all the while, with the booklet tucked under my arm. People loved chocolate and it helped to have the booklet validating my proposal. I didn’t even push for the money upfront. I gained confidence and trust by saying I could come back with their orders and collect money on a later date. I’d curse those people under my breath as I walked away from their lawns onto the next house.

The con worked for a while. I collected more money than what I needed to get past a month of cigarettes and Pepsi. I was able to bum smokes to friends, and I had leftovers. I was even beginning to save for a brand new pair of jeans. The expensive kind selling for $50.00 at the mall. I wanted to buy my very first and own pair. Mine. But it all came to a stop, suddenly and without warning. I can remember the day to a T. I was running through the same neighborhood I'd been collecting in and was just about to head back to my old neighborhood but decided one last cul-de-sac. I remember the woman responsible for changing my mind. This woman lived in a tiny ranch-style home with a neat lawn and cute, darkly painted shutters bordering her windows and white siding. She had short cropped hair, was a brunette, young (maybe late thirties), and smiled. She asked for one box of something sweet and gave me the money. Eleven dollars. Before leaving her doorstep she said, “God bless you.” That was it. I was a bit unnerved and looked deeply into her eyes. Her face shone brightly and was pleasant. No judgment, no scrutiny. I didn’t see that face again until I had a “burning bush” moment at twenty-three with a friend of mine in Texas. The later experience was the reason why I gave up smoking and haven’t taken up the habit since.

"God bless you."

Her voice has been stuck with me ever since.

I felt deep shame for taking the money. I still do, two decades later. Once, at a public event, of which I was a keynote speaker, I tried to apologize for my youthful misdeeds. To preface, at the time surround this event I was broke. I couldn’t keep the electricity running at my apartment. I barely had enough food in the house to eat. So twice a week I’d donate plasma; between classes at my university, and between work hours on campus. I set up the event to tell the beginning of my story. It was an opportunity to create solidarity. My audience members were the same group of people I had stolen from when I was younger: White middle class America. After the event I asked everyone to take the money I was giving them, and to do something with it. Put it in a collection box, see someone without a cup of coffee and offer to buy one; to do something, anything for someone else. I cried as I passed out the money. Some of the audience members were confused, others smiled, others cried as well. I was trying to apologize. That was it. It became the first moment I tried to use my past, the damage and the hurt, to heal others; to give word to issues unaddressed in urban populations. It’s been years since this event, and now, only now, by writing this book, I can give back in a manner which I hope makes more sense.

            Ghetto girl details the life I had, with as much accuracy as I can muster, before during and after living in River Rouge. It still stands as one of Detroit's ghettos. I don’t ask you to agree with it, or to understand it fully. The complete story will only make sense to me, the writer. Even if it is only read here, in these pages, I’m happy to know it is out there, competing with others. The injustices faced living in River Rouge, Michigan. I’ve gained a voice. The ghetto gave me many things, but not the gift of gravity. It doesn’t keep me down. And the experiences I’ve had only push me ahead through the clouded haze of misunderstanding and judgment.

© 2015 Jack V.

Author's Note

Jack V.
Preface for Ghetto girl releasing October 2015. Look for it on This is the second book to Girl. Woman. Us. penned by Jack V. This book is a collection of stories of child abuse, neglect, mistreatment, abandonment, hurt and anger.

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I love it, its what makes you, you it read well and I would read your book, I'm new at this but keep going,
form a foster mom, your my first review

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jack V.

6 Years Ago

Thanks Sam! I'll be sure to come to your page and read through some of your writing as well and give.. read more
Ronald Mathews

5 Years Ago

Hello, Miss. V I would like to say that I am so sorry that you had to go through these things as a c.. read more
Jack V.

5 Years Ago

Thank you for your kind words as well. I'll hop on your page and offer a review as well. All the bes.. read more

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Added on September 22, 2015
Last Updated on September 22, 2015
Tags: girl woman us, jack v, ghetto girl, river rouge, living in detroit, detroit, abuse, neglect, hardship, trial, trying again, motivation


Jack V.
Jack V.

Farmington Hills, MI

I'm a self-publishing, freelance author living in Michigan. I appreciate detailed description, and therefore I must warn my audience, many oeuvre contain graphic imagery. The topic surrounds, physical.. more..

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