If You Knew Me, by Arkia
If you knew me
You would know
I’m smart, beautiful, and kind
I’ve been through a lot
And wore a smile as a disguise.
I wonder if you could see
The pain in my eyes, all the silent cries
Sometimes I wish God would send me
A sign of my overall purpose in life
More happiness and less traumatizing sights.
So if you really knew me would you really want to know
I’ve been through the worst tragedy in life
To the point my body felt life-less and cold
You would want to leave and go.
That, if you really knew me, you would know
I’m a young inquisitive mom
I’ve been to hell and back
plenty and plenty of times.
Arkia is a participant in our workshops with young women in the Gender Responsive Re-Entry Assistance Program (G.R.A.S.P.) at the Brooklyn DA’s Office of Re-entry. Her writing is shared here with her permission. The workshops are being conducted by myself and Judith Hanaan, author of Motherhood Exaggerated and The Write Prescription. Through writing prompts young women reflect on their experiences, identities, strengths and challenges.
Unfortunately at this time young women are a growing percentage of people involved in the criminal justice system. Yet the system hasn’t caught up to their unique needs. As we want to ultimately keep all young people out of prisons and jails, we need to have more responsive ways of dealing with youth with problem behaviors rather than punishment. We see these young women working hard to be good parents, continue their educations and secure jobs while keeping up with the demands of their court involvement.
Research indicates that young women who are court involved have high incidences of individual and community trauma. Central to healing and progress for these young women are positive relationships with caring adults. The Brooklyn DA’s office of Re-entry is unique in providing a program that is gender responsive. Prison Writes writing workshops compliments G.R.A.S.P. by providing a supportive space for these vibrant and talented young women to articulate and process their emotions.