As a child, I would find myself standing outside the locked bedroom door hearing my mother, Queen Betty Jean, crying and screaming, as her insecure, possessive male brute boyfriend was beating her repeatedly. I don't know if hearing my li'l balled fists beating upon the door as I hollered at the top of my lungs for him to stop helped to get him to open the door and exit, while knocking me aside. But I hated him, and I carried those horrific childhood memories with their bloody images inside me, while I would run to the bathroom to get a wet towel and go try to help her wash the blood from her face.
To this day, I find it amazing how she would be more worried about me than her own painful injuries. As we hugged and comforted each other, she would somehow make sure her youngest baby boy know that the brute had not broken her free spirit inside.
Unfortunately, we got separated when I was 12 years old and sent to Kansas, never to see, hug and kiss my queen mother again. She passed on recently, in October 2010, which are two reasons why this Domestic Violence Awareness Month is very personal and important to my heart and soul. So with that shared, there are some things that I would like to say:
1. First and foremost, I send a heartfelt embrace of care, respect, appreciation and honor to all the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, sisters , nieces, wives and women — queens, princesses of the world. You, each and all, deserve to be treated fairly, equally and with the utmost dignity and respect, no matter what.
2. Secondly, raising awareness about domestic violence must be a continuing effort all year long, because it's the only way to break the cycle that has become a part of this society's collective psyche over the centuries. It's passed on generation to generation from grandfather to father to son, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew, friends, neighbors and through television to viewers!
3. Third, understanding is the key for each male to grow, mature and develop as real men by recognizing, caring, respecting and appreciating women and the value that daughters, mothers, sisters, nieces, aunts, wives, friends etc. has (and continues to) bless upon our world since the beginning of human civilization. Remember, understanding is key to real change. It took me years up into adulthood to
grasp genuine understanding of some of the many reasons why women are so important to us and our world.
For all of the above reasons and more, I apologize first to my mother Betty Jean Carr-Stanford, my sisters, my grandmother and all the women whose lives crossed or connected with my presence years ago in my immature and irresponsible past, when I was that frustrated, confused, lost and out of control male who did not know how to do my best by you. It took me over 25 years, but I have grown up inside and am man enough to say "I'm sorry" in front of the entire world.
Today, I promise that I will continue to be my best toward all mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, wives women whom I come into contact with as I have been doing for years now. I hope to lead by example for others to emulate.
Send our brother some love and light:
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288,
This story was written to and transcribed by Kendra Castaneda.
James Baridi Williamson wrote on the back of this photo that it "was taken in 1994 when I was returned to solitary confinement and given an indeterminate SHU term." He was born on May 4, 1963, and has been incarcerated since 1984 and "housed at Pelican Bay since November 1990."
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