BY Carolina Pichardo (@c_pichardo)
It took a lot for me to know how to begin this letter. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you – yet we are both mothers and that’s enough for me to feel compelled to reach out. It’s dedicated not only to you but to the many mothers in Washington Heights and Inwood that have lost a child to a system that’s beyond them.
It’s a system that’s known to be corrupt. And I’m not just referring to the juvenile centers for offenders – which has taken over 5,000 young people into custody this year alone – but to the education system, culture and way of life.
To say that our children are disenfranchised from the beginning is an understatement.
Take, for example, where we live. It’s an area that has the highest amount of street-level air pollution in New York City. This increases the chances of respiratory issues, asthma and lower IQ’s. Then there’s the crime rate here, which spiked to over 15% this past year. Schools are also constantly in a state of flux. It’s enough to make raising a family a constant struggle. On top of this, you claim to be a single parent, which alone became an “oh-that’s why” response from the public. However, when you consider that a few years back (around the time your son was born) over half of Dominican households listed a woman as the head of household, its not so much a surprising statistic. Instead, it’s an epidemic.
We get it.
But tell us what more could we have done to make things different?
Let us know what is there left for us – as a community – to do to make sure another child doesn’t run the same risks?
In less than a week, your life changed drastically. This event has probably put into perspective the past 12 years of your life, when you gave birth to a boy that’s now being dubbed a monster, punk and other things you feel don’t quite fit your child.
This week alone is probably less than the unclear future and years that are to come, when your son is either locked away to spend the rest of his childhood in a juvenile center/facility or paroled to a life that’s very much like prison anyway.
There’s no easy road from here.
But one thing you must do is remain strong. In the meantime, we’ll also try our hardest to do better. On the morning of a march that represents the plea of the millions of undeserved in the country, your child’s voice will be among them. It’s the best we could offer now – the sign of hope for others like him.
Rosemary Rosario is the mother of one of the 12-year-old assault suspects arrested for throwing a shopping cart off of a fourth-story walkway.
YoungUrbanMoms co-founder, Carolina Pichardo, is a digital marketer by day, writer and community activist by night, and mom to Lulu always. You can reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter@c_pichardo.