Letter to Judge Jabota, Sixth Draft

Philadelphia by Fredy Martinez

Philadelphia by Fredy Martinez

Dear Judge,

It was my idea to write this, although my lawyer has helped in the actual writing. I went to summer camp once, it was some kind of initiative to help inner city youth. There were only a handful of us there from inner cities, the rest was wealthy suburban kids.(wealthier than us anyway) I made a friend named Randy. He had a black momma and a white daddy, so he was light skinned too. I used to get teased on the block for being light skinned. We kept in touch and one summer I went out to visit him. I knew he lived different than me but seeing it, in person, drove it home.{Lawyer Mike, yall actually talk like that? drove it home?!?! fuuck}The first thing that struck me was how orderly everything was. No litter on the streets, no burnt out, boarded up buildings. The size of the houses, and the lawns were the second thing I noticed. Then it was that there wasn’t no rent-a-center, no liquor shop on every corner, no pawns shops, or check cashing jawns, {Lawyer Mike I think we need to keep at least a few jawns, I get spelling and grammar but a nigga gotta represent} and there wasn’t any bullet proof glass in the convenience stores( when I finally saw one). You get the picture.

At the end of my stay there was some kind of bbq jawn. {keeping that one too} All of these wealthy folk got together and talked about wealthy folk stuff. Randy’s momma was the only dark skinned person. All the rest was white, Indian, or Asian. They get to talking about America, how it’s the greatest country, how they came here and made it. What the fuck they talking about? I realized there are two Americas(at least). In their America if you work hard you have a chance of making it. Their children would live pretty much like them. My America was a different country. {Donte, you may find this helpful, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/the-birth-of-a-new-american-aristocracy/559130/} {Yeah, right Lawyer Mike. How about you run this up your flagpole.(look you’re rubbing off on me!!!) 1. I’m not middle class 2. I’m not white 3. No escaping being poor and black on my block. This jawns about a different fucking country than where I live, but thanks. As you say (read in your geeky white voice) “Um, yeah, I just don’t have a frame of reference.” }

In my America there wasn’t opportunity: there was crime, drugs, cockroaches, empty bellies, murder, and absentee parents. How the fuck you supposed to worry about school when you don’t have food in your belly or clothes on your back? {keeping that too} Even if those two were covered, how can you learn with no books, with a teacher that don’t care? If our skin wasn’t enough to keep us out of the workforce, then our grammar patterns are. Lawyer Mike calls it a perpetual cycle of poverty and injustice. I call it fucked up. So we do what we do on the block. Some make it out but they’re the exception, not the rule.

My brother joined the Army. Thought he’d make something of himself, become a man. He had his dick blown off in Iraq {Donte, I told you, this is a letter to a judge, you can’t say things like “had his dick blown off”. Say he was killed. Insert statistics about the over representation of African Americans in the US military} My cousin joined up too and made it back but ended up on the block like the rest of us. Who wants to hire a ghetto kid{Lawyer Mike, I think “kid” is the wrong word choice, we need to keep what I put first}with PTSD? {Donte, again this is to a judge, we’ve got to get rid of all the N words. We want this letter to feel like it was from you, but some language just doesn’t fly. Judge Jobota is a sixty year old, relatively conservative Mexican-American. } Yeah ok Lawyer Mike, I get it. Don’t be me. Change my grammar, change my language, change the message. Why don’t you write it? You said to show them poor, urban, black America. Well you not letting me show them. Maybe you don’t wanna c? Really though.

I merked an old rich white lady and her husband and I am sorry. Nah fuck that Mike I’m taking that shit out. You wanna hear I’m sorry. It makes the problem less than it is, just another violent nigger{yeah that’s right, you thinking it, I said it. I’M done playin} too lazy to get a job. Truth? I do feel remorse for killing. I’ll grapple with that rest of my life, but the world she ( and you and Judge Jobota) live in isn’t the real one, or at least not the only one. See, all yall want to pretend like it’s not your problem, like we from another world, or we wired up differently. Some real Morlock and Eloi shit. Fuck that. Like I said, we exploited and trapped in a cycle. Maybe more rich old white people need to die? Lemme ask you something Judge( you too Lawyer Mike) how many Rent-a-Centers, pawn-shops, liquor stores, bullet proof jawns or crack houses yall have in your neighborhood? How many shootings you have around your block last year? Fucking thought so. Funny too how our victims don’t make the news like when some white people get shot up. Fuck this, I’m out. You know they gonna lock me up for life anyway. Suck a dick Lawyer mike, you too judge Jobota. Yall don’t give a fuck about a nigga.