It is easy for me to love these incarcerated girls:
Gang members, murderers, thieves, drug-dealers, delinquents, con-artists, homegirls
Daughters, sisters, mothers
Smiling, pulsing, dreaming young women.
I justify their crimes to myself (the father she killed was a monster)
I am not here to judge them, people are paid to do that
And “victim” is a funny word to peg on some and deny to others
The same society that closed every door now points a finger and refuses to be moved
Prostitutes awake compassion, the homeless and the sick, but not the imprisoned–
We’d rather bury or forget the prisoners than visit them
Despite the fact that the streets chewed them up human and spit them out ______
They are to me lovers, dancers, gossipers, bad-mouthed teenagers before criminals
But I speak always from the same privilege
I know them only on the inside, where they behave well
I will never see Xochyll cut out the tongue of her victim so he can’t scream
I can’t imagine Angela killing her best friend as a favor to the gang
I wasn’t there
I have never lost a sister, friend, father at their hands
I have never been gang-raped or tortured
And odds are I never will taste the rancor and vengeance
That push so many to hate.
I am lucky to still believe in forgiveness,
Could I believe in humanity, hope in rehabilitation, trust that people are good
If the mara killed my mother?
A thousand theories on evil cannot explain it, good is a relative term
You and I must consider ourselves capable
of great love
and great destruction.
capable of running with the current all the way to hell
also of making bold strides, provoking change, evolving.
“The world seems green or multi-colored, but really it’s black.”
I realize I can’t convince her otherwise because no matter how many times I
repeat the refrain of Imagine
the war rages and teenagers are widowed and children are jumped into the gang and humans forget how to feel
Even as my friend tells me how the gang has special dogs to eat their evidence
It is easy for me to believe that these girls have the capacity for love
…and they have shown me
Written by: Olivia Holdsworth