Trapped in a world of disparity, I witnessed it riddled with drugs, violence and insanity. All too which would have its affect on my ghetto perspective. Yet, my ghetto was unique, nonetheless, the same. Though, there were no plywood covers littering project windows or other features that immediately come to mind when reflecting on the scenery common to the inner-city ghetto. Nor was it the reality I’ve encountered in other countries where more extreme definitions of poverty exist. Yet and still, being poor is universal and embodies the same oppressive elements.  

My ghetto was one of illusions all the same. Here, cats came up stankin’ floating in the lake underestimating my country settings. I was raised for the most part in Seminole County, Oklahoma. At the heart of this racially intolerant stretch of land sat the county seat-Wewoka, my birthright. Yet, I resided here and there throughout the state. In thirteen years of school I attended thirteen different schools. My mother and stepfather often jumped from town-to-town, city-to-city looking for rare employment opportunities as our family grew. Most of the towns we lived in were small populations (800 to 25,000), with exception of Oklahoma City (OKC, hereafter) and Norman. These towns were just as insulating as the inner city. They all were trapped in the cultural bubble of racism, drugs, poverty, and violence.  

From jump my real father had checked-out. Though he abandoned my mother and I, his departure was not by choice. Three bullets caught him in the back of the head. I was told he was murdered by a coward stepping to a hogg behind a “juice box” (a.k.a. some pussy). At the tender age of three, I vividly recall holding my sobbing mother’s hand as we approached… I was confused not realizing the impact of that day as we drew near the sky-blue box my father was lying in. Looking to my mother for answers, I recall asking: “What’s wrong?” “Why is Daddy just lying there?” “Daddy get up!” “Let’s play cowboy and ride my horse Big Red!” Daddy just stayed there as if he was playing sleep. As I continued to tug on my Mom’s dress tears flowed from her eyes as if a river as she attempted to explain my father was gone forever. “No he’s not! He’s right there,” I insisted not understanding the meaning of “gone forever.”  

The murder of my father would be the first of many life-altering events during childhood that would harden my soul. Something inside of me would turn-off. Death and insanity seemed to ever claim those I cared for most. So I just stopped caring.  

Sadly, the only memory of my father I would grow to have would be the man in the casket who, as my mother and family would tell, brought joy to the world around him, including mine as the kid cowboy wanting to be like pops.  

Pops was a real cowboy-boots and the whole nine! He was raised, along with seven other siblings, in an era when Boley, Oklahoma, his hometown, was one of the most prominent Black communities in the United States. Pa Pa Daddy and Grandma Skippy-his parents, were industrial people who had managed to acquire a sizeable ranch in the backwoods of Boley. They were bi-racial people with a background that span from a father who was a former slave master in Georgia and, Grandma, the daughter of a beautiful mix between Cherokee and African from Alabama. Pops had inherited all this. He was handsome man of fair complexion that loved “fire-water,” beautiful women and a good dice game. He had a fierce reputation for pounding a cat into the sand for getting out-of-pocket with him. My mother would tell of how he was such a beautiful and proud man who swept her off her feet with his charm. He was a sharp dresser, a dandy, who took care of her and loved spending time with his only son.  

As the years passed after his murder, it seemed as if my life was nothing but a hole akinning where my father should have been. I would grow-up with only remnants of his profound affect gleaming in the cloudiness of my mother’s pain spoken eyes when he was spoke of. “His favorite words,” she would encourage me with hopes that his death would not hinder me in life, was: “Ain’t no step to high for a stepper.” These were the words that I’d grow to live by….

Excerpt from Ivan Kilgore’s book Domestic Genocide: The Institutionalization of Society. Friend him at Facebook/Ivan Kilgore.com. You can contact him directly at:

California State Prison Sacramento,
Ivan Kilgore, No. V31306, FB2-118,
P.O. Box 290066,
Represa, Ca 95671.
Email: domesticgenocide@hotmail.com.

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