Friday, March 15, 2013

Never Blink At Gunpoint

As the nozzle of the assailant’s semi-automatic pistol was pointed at my forehead I refused to blink.  My body was frozen, similar to the way an animal is right before an attack.  I briefly remember thinking, “He will have to remember the look in my eyes in the event that he decides to pull this trigger”.  My emotions were mixed, but my sentiment was, “Never blink at gunpoint”.  A parent never wants to be put in a position that disenables them from protecting their child.  One of God’s most precious given gifts to me was hunched over clinging to a wall and screaming in her lowest voice, “Oh My God”.  Standing only three-feet away from her there was absolutely nothing I could do. I too thought of God at that moment and I remember thinking, “Heavenly Father, forgive him because he has no idea what he’s doing”.  The showdown began when the blank stare standing in front of me realized that I refused to break my stare.  Apparently the world sold him a raw deal and he was cashing in on his refund. His spirit was so dark that in essence it gave off this eerie and cold feeling.  I quickly got chills from the very first moment that I laid my eyes on him. 

It isn’t uncommon in a NYC Housing Authority Project (NYCHA) building, to find a random loiterer standing in a lobby. It was gloomy that day and chances were that he could have been either waiting for someone or simply seeking shelter from the cold.  He resembled a student to me.  Looking past his cold eyes he was wearing a backpack, and was decently dressed. I never gave it anymore thought than that.  The vibe that enveloped his entire aura gave my spirit chills. I immediately began to grieve over his soul.  He was angry and he needed to tell me over and over again that he could kill me. “Where’s the fucking money bitch”, “Give it up”, “Give it all up”, were some of the loud shouts that he exclaimed. It was 12:40 p.m., “How in the world could this be happening?” I thought. I like to think of myself as a precautionary type of a person and this was something that I just couldn’t conceive with my own human knowledge.  As he continued to remind me that my life was in his hands I remember thinking, “Is he trying to convince me of that or is he merely trying to convince himself that he is capable of murder?”

 “Forever connected”, was what crossed my mind next whether he killed us at that moment or would decide to let us live, the memory of the event in and of itself would never leave my mind.  My knees disrespectfully began to buckle.  They didn’t share the strength of my heart.  Death was just seconds away for my knees. My heart on the other hand could feel the strongest presence of God beginning to fill that enclosed building lobby.  For a second or two, I thought of passing out but a parent is always their child’s hero and passing out wasn’t an option. My mind began to flash on the beautiful childhood memories I had in this same building lobby.  There was a time in 1986, that it was a clean lobby that always had a bright and warm feeling to it as I entered. I always had difficulty deciphering between the elevator and the stairwell knowing that either way I would always get upstairs to my home safely. Many times I would have my bicycle with me and shove it in the clean elevator. As a child I was often anxious to get inside of my home, my sweet and comfy home.

 This was no longer that place and all I could think was, “How and when did all of this happen?”, “When did this Housing Project go so terribly wrong?” My immediate guess was years of damage, poor property-management, neighbors living in fear and afraid to even care. At that very moment a very grim thought came to mind, and I sensed that there was a complete and total absence of the Spirit of God.  Housing Projects are exactly what they’re called, “Projects”.  Rapper Jay-Z has lyrics in his song, “Do You Wanna Ride”, and his observation of the housing project experience is so accurate.  He says, “You know why they call the Projects a project, because it’s a project!”  Housing Projects are experiments.  People living in a Housing Project are by no means living in mainstream society. Tenants are actually baited like lab rats when they are offered super low rent with all utilities included.  Tenants feel as if they are in control and actually somehow saving money when they sign their lease.  The clause that isn’t on the lease is that they are also signing away their safety and the lives of their children are what the project may take in return without consent.  Some children become a product of the environment, which happened to me by the age of 16, some spend life sentences in jail, and some never make it out alive. What happened to my neighborhood?  When did God move out? When did Satan move in? I moved out of Brooklyn before my 20th Birthday and what I was witnessing now at 35, forced my spirit to grieve deeply. 

How could I ever convince my daughter, a first year college student that the world is a good place?  I wasn’t really sure that I believed that anymore.  How could I turn my back on Brooklyn, a city so dear to my heart? This was an awful situation and I would have to think quickly in order to turn this negative into a positive in one way or another.  As the robbery at gunpoint continued; I watched as the assailant became greedy. Having my daughter’s I-phone, my blackberry, cash, my handbag filled with more gadgets (my 11 year-old son’s cell phone, a kindle, credit cards, contact lenses and other misc items including my favorite patent-leather wallet/clutch and enough MAC cosmetics to open a small store), he still wanted more. That’s when he began ruffling my neck scarf with his hand while pointing the nozzle of the gun at my throat.  “Where’s the jewelry bitch”, “You ain’t got no chain?”. I had enough at that point and I spoke.  I said, “We don’t wear jewelry”.  Then I said, “You took everything”. At that moment the assailant announced, “Go upstairs bitch”, and my daughter and I realized that our mini-hostage situation had come to an end. I was relieved.  I pressed the elevator with haste.  He motioned with his gun that we were to take the elevator and he would take the stairs.  Before the elevator arrived he said, “I could fucking kill you bitch, as long as you know”, “Yeah, just as long as you know”, and like a ghost he was gone. 

We knocked on my mother’s door with complete and total panic.  She slowly made her way to the door which is most often the case.  I frantically called 911 from the kitchen phone, and by the Grace of God was connected with a very compassionate phone operator.  Within what felt like seconds the police were knocking at our door. I thought, “This has to be the assailant, because there is no way possible the police could have arrived so quickly”.  I warned my mother not to open the door before knowing for certain that it was the police. Unfortunately, right before our ordeal the same thief stuck his gun into a 62 year-old woman’s stomach.  Demanding cash and things of worth he went a step further and tried forcing the same woman into her building’s elevator. What I later found out that she was strong and told the thief, “No”, and wedged her foot in the elevator door to prevent being pushed in. The cops were on the scene already as a result of her emergency phone call. Everything seemed surreal.  I was going through the motions yet nothing seemed to be registering.  I walked into my childhood bedroom because I needed a moment. I closed the door and bent down on my knees to pray, “Heavenly Father, Thank you for sparing mine and Portia’s lives”, “Thank you for giving us more time here to have each other and to get it right”.  My knees remained weak as I stood back up but what I couldn’t deny was that my joy was still completely intact.

The same joy that overfilled my cup earlier that morning was still there. That’s God’s Grace.  Happiness may depend on one occurrence or another but the sweetness of concrete joy is given to us by God.  Shock and disbelief carried me through the rest of that afternoon. Everything that happened during the remainder of that day is still a blur to me.  I remember asking God why things like this have to happen. You see when you’re raised in the projects, you don’t fear the projects.  Instinctually, you just come to understand your surroundings. It’s a profound concept to explain to outsiders but it’s really simple for us who grow up there.  You’re always aware of the “going-ons of the neighborhood”, such as, homicides, gangs, domestic-violence, drug-dealers and dope fiends.  There isn’t any conscious fear of walking to your car, going to the corner store or entering your family’s building that might very well be filled with loitering occupants.  Instead, you hold your head up high, possibly gesture with a simple head nod or by saying, “What up”, and you proceed accordingly to your dwelling.

My assailant killed whatever element inside of me that was capable of doing that.  I knew as I sat patiently at the local police precinct waiting for my report that my assailant took more than my handbag and all of my belongings.  For one, that childhood image of home that brought so much warmth and great memories to me as a child was gone. I have no desire to visit there ever again and I will continue to pray that with time that will change.  My hope is still intact for the neighborhood that I once loved.  As I walk away from it, I also vow to never turn my back on it.  God placed a calling on me that very same day and I know that I must help my former community.  My mother’s building now represents a death trap where at any given moment, at any time of day; my loved ones and I can be physically harmed, robbed or even worse. The Serenity Prayer asks God for the courage to accept the things that we cannot change but for the discernment to know when we can.  I will answer God’s call obediently helping and loving all of the residents of the Sheepshead Bay/Nostrand Houses. In time, I will pass the torch to a strong leader that is passionate about seeing NYCHA bring change to these four corners. I will love all of you the way that God mercifully loves me.

Exactly 1 week since the robbery my daughter sent me this text message today:

“I’m so embarrassed. I just walked into the pizza place and I freaked out.  The man that works here was sitting at one of the tables.  He immediately stood up to assist me but I was so startled.  Mom, I thought he was going to shoot me. He said, “I’m sorry I just work here”.  

I read a prayer of Thanksgiving that I would like to share with all of you.  We all have something to be thankful for. Whether it’s our lives, our children, our family & friends, our careers or God’s Blessing and favor over our lives:

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.  Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His.  We are His people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation". ~Psalm 100:1-5 

Praying that God Bless & Keep each and every person that reads this safe.  May your family never experience this type of violation and crime in their lifetime.
To read more about what happened to my daughter & I last Thursday afternoon, please click the link below:

God Bless You All
Much Luv

post signature


  1. WoW! I'm sorry you and your daughter had to go through this. I hate hearing stories like this of people robbing hard working individuals of their money. Best of all, you made it out alive even though you may have some healing to do.

  2. Hi Kim:

    Thank you for your kind words and even more thank you for reading! I believe everything happens for a reason. That community was so dear to my heart when I was a child and I will do my part to lead them out of their current conditions. Thank you again xoxo.