Grandma’s Cheesecake

Born and raised in the South, my grandmother, Mary, used to make one of the best strawberry cheesecakes. I have never tasted a better pastry than my grandmother’s cheesecake. Every taste was sensational. Every bite was delicate. And every swallow was soothing. What a pleasant experience!

Junk food has always topped my daily food chart. Candy satisfies a sweet tooth. All chocolate cookies, pastries, and ice cream are delicious. None of which is greater than my favorite strawberry cheesecake. If given a choice to eat what I want for the rest of my life, I’ll have a deep freezer stuffed with my grandmother’s cheesecakes.

When I was a little boy, my mother would send me to my grandmother’s house for dinner. While eating my food, all I could think of was the desert. “Cheesecake covered with sliced strawberries.” I thought as I rushed my dinner. Once I finished my plate, my grandmother would serve me her mouthwatering cheesecake. Like a fat kid loves cake, I demolished it – left no crumbs behind for rodents.

Wrongful Death

It was a beautiful, summer day in the middle of September. Alone in the cloudless, crystal blue sky, the sun reserved its 2 o’clock spot. Meanwhile, usual everyday activities assumed at State Correctional Center: Inmates stood anxiously at canteen windows with their orange net bags; bored inmates loitered the boulevard (walkways) to say “what’s up?” to their fellow convicts or female staff; workout junkies crowded the weight pits; and men walked around the rec yard tracks, or talked to their friends through the 12-foot fences.

“Four on four. It’s me, you, Jason, and Gran.” I said to one of my soccer buddies. Although the odds weren’t in our favor, our confidence motivated us to win. Minutes after the game’s first touch, I was distracted by loud radios and jiggling keys. I saw correction officers and nurses – like the entire medical department – running on the boulevard with a stretcher heading to N unit (a housing unit). “Someone passed out from smoking that darn spice” was my initial thought. Once the nurses disappeared into the building, I got back into the game.

With mesmerizing footwork, I dribbled the ball down the left side of the field. As always, I looked in the goalkeeper’s box for an open teammate. No one was there to attack. Using my lightening speed, I overstepped the ball twice, drifted right, and passed a defender. Within 15-yards of striking distance, I cocked back my right leg to fire, but instead, I back-heeled passed the ball to Jason, who was behind me. I cleared out and created space for him to shoot. With no mercy at all, Jason aimed and discharged a missile. Unfortunately, the ball whistled over the crossbar.

Once Upon a Time…And Now

Written by Killian Yeatts

Edited by Latif Torres-Robinson

Once upon a time in the final hours of July 24, 1900, in New Orleans, Louisiana, three officers accosted two Black males for no reason other than the color of their skin. In a wrongful attempt to arrest the two men, one of the officers held his gun to the face of one of the Black men, while another officer bashed Mr Charles (the other Black man) in the head.

Unknown to the police, however, Mr. Charles had a gun in his possession. Out of self-defense, Mr. Charles pulled out his revolver, and began shooting at the assaultive cop, hitting the officer in the hip. The gunman then fled. By doing this, Mr. Charles knew he had sealed his fate; his life was forfeited.

Mr. Charles didn’t foresee how his actions would later impact his fellow African-Americans. Taking matters into their own hands, an ire of White citizens marched the streets to find the perpetrator. They beat every Black male in sight until they found Mr. Charles.

Identity Crisis

People’s perception of me meant more to me than how I percieved myself. Needless to say, I was oblivious as to who I was; it wasn’t important.

For almost two decades, I lived up to family, friends, even strangers’ expectations rather than my own. Like a lovable character in a fiction novel or screenplay, my actions satisfied the appetites of hungry spectators. “Are you not entertained?” was a subconscious, matured way of me asking “how high do you want me to jump?”

As pathetic as it sounds, I was a slave of mankind’s thoughts, under its command and trapped inside its narrow mind.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tips #1

When I was 13 yrs old, I wanted to be a rapper. Sometimes after school, my Aunt Sylvia’s home office turned into my music studio – I would design my own albums covers on the computer; I named unwritten songs; and I recorded only a few songs on my karaoke machine.

Over the course of a couple of years, my actions weren’t that of a rap star: I wrote less than 10 songs; I didn’t compete in freestyle battles; and I wasn’t studying the art of music. I never practiced, yet I wanted to be a musician. As a result of my lack of effort, I never became the rapper I wanted to be.

10 Commandments for “The People” to Help Prevent Child Gun Possession

With the spike of gun violence across our nation, “We The People” can help save a child from becoming the next victim of random gun violence. Despite previous events between law enforcement and inner-city communities, the police continue to remove illegal guns off of our streets. However, cooperation amongst “The People” will be far more effective because there’s no greater understanding or stronger bond than family and friends.

I would do anything to protect the youth; unfortunately, I am incarcerated so I exercise my voice through my writing.

In addition to my upcoming children’s anti-gun book, Ta-Quan Makes a Choice, I have created 10 Commandments for “The People” (Adults and Children) to Help Prevent Child Gun Possession and Gun Violence. Based on my own childhood experiences, I am confident these gun prevention commandments will have positive results. So please, for the sake of our children’s future, read your safety rules and give a child theirs, then post and share with your family and friends. Let’s make the world a safer place. Until next time, stay gun-free stay safe!

Little Big Miracle – A Story

“Gracias señor!” a middle age woman said to a Cuban native. The American journalist, who was tall with long blonde hair, had stopped to buy a cold drink from a concession stand. While keeping herself hydrated, she resumed her search for a good story, taking pictures with her camera and making notes of the country’s most popular area: Havana. After walking a few blocks, she stopped at a baseball field where a youth league game had started its first inning. As locals began packing the bleachers, the American found a seat next to a lady whose eyes were locked on a paperback novella.

Like all of Los Tigres’ (The Tigers) games, 8-year-old José De Jesus kept the bench warm. It was the last regular season game. As his team battled for a playoff spot, José wondered if his season would end with a blank stat sheet. In addition to being smaller and shorter than all of his teammates, José had other differences. His right leg was smaller than his left leg, which made it difficult for him to run. The coach never called his name; likewise, José never called his coach’s name. But José’s physical disadvantages weren’t the reasons why his coach didn’t give him playing time. José was born with a rare bone disease called “Legg-Calve-Perthese.” And because each movement could cause damage to his right hip bone, on the sidelines watching other kids having fun was the norm for José. José loved baseball, so with his doctor’s permission, his mother allowed him to join Los Tigres. Looking up at his number one fan in her usual spot, José was eager to play–and a little scared too.

The Day My Life Changed Forever

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! were my mother’s words as she shook my motionless body. I was asleep on my queen-sized bed. When I opened my eyes, a blurry image of my mother was hunched over me with a pleasant smile. As I sluggishly sat up, my mother quickly sat down beside me. “What’s up with her this morning?” I thought silently as I wiped the cold from my eyes. Before I could get a word out, my mother shared the good news. “It’s a boy,” she said softly, “and he’s six pounds and six ounces.” Mirroring my mother’s emotions, elation filled my 15-year-old soul.

At MCV hospital the night before, I sat aside my soon-to-be son’s mother’s bed holding her hand. My mother and I waited for my son’s mother, Katie, to go into labor. Preparing to welcome her fifth grandchild, my mother was as anxious as I was. However, Katie’s contraction levels fluctuated from low to almost ready for the delivery room. The anticipation weighed heavy on my eyelids. Because the nurses were expecting Katie to deliver that night, I fought off the z’s. I did not want to miss the birth of my first child. Unfortunately, my mother grew impatient, so she insisted we call it a night and go home. I tried to convince her to allow me to stay with Katie, but my mother denied my request.

My First Real Job

One morning in the summer of 2003, I lounged in the cozy family room of my parents’ house. While my mother, stepfather, and older brother were all at work, I inherited my parents’ Church Hill residence until after 4 pm. Smoking marijuana, listening to loud hip hop music, and watching BET videos on the big screen TV, I was enjoying school break the best way a 15-year-old boy knew how: irresponsibly, immaturely, and recklessly.

As I sat back in my father’s Lazyboy rolling up a J, the cordless house phone rang. I checked the caller ID, but the name and number was unfamiliar.

“Hello!” I said after I lowered the music. “Hey Teef, are you trying to make some money?” my brother Dante asked.