Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash
Last year, when Jackie Christie and her daughter were dealing with their mother-daughter drama, publicly, there were people who sided with Jackie Christie even though they could see that she was in the wrong. They sided with her because she’s the mother. And the Bible tells us to honor our mothers and fathers. At the time, I noticed Aria jumped in the comment section to say that this was something she couldn’t abide by. She explained, in a post on The Shade Room, that after everything she’d endured at the hands of her mother, it was best to just cut her out of her life completely. Curious to know what she was referencing, I reached out. Here’s the first part of her story.
NSNC: I wanna start like at what age did you realize that your relationship with your mother wasn't like other people's relationships?
I think I realized that early, as young as maybe two because my mother,--I'm from Barbados, I was born there, raised there, but my mother is from St. Vincent so she came over there, I guess, looking for a better life. She already had two kids prior to me. She met my dad but my dad was married. My stepmom got pregnant but the pregnancy didn't go well so she ended up having to have a whole hysterectomy along with, you know, the baby died so she could no longer have kids. I think that my mom--I don't know-- she has this thing where she's very conniving. So she got pregnant with me and I think that she only had me in order to seek to take my dad from my step-mom.
NSNC: Did it work?
Not really because I've never seen them in a relationship, relationship. Where they were together. So right after she had me, she would use me as a ploy in their marriage. She would run and and drop me off talking about, "Take your child!' you know, that kind of thing in order to disrupt his home. It came to a point where if we were going to go to my mom's house, I would cry. Everybody would tell me these stories. Like at two years old I would cry. I would cry constantly at the thought of being with my mom.
But then my step mom took me when I was two. She divorced my dad. So she raised me by herself. So it's like weird, the whole relationship, the whole situation.
Four years later, Aria’s mother gave birth to her younger sister, also her father’s daughter.
My father was always in and out. But I really didn’t have to endure their thing because my stepmom was the person who raised me. So I knew who my real mom was but I also knew, my stepmom (who Aria calls Nana) is my mom.
NSNC: You were with your stepmom from two until...?
From two until all the way up to say when I turned like 10 possible 11. All the way up til what you guys call sixth grade. But we call it class four in Barbados. So my mom immigrated to the United States. She left all four of her kids in Barbados and then shortly after, she sent my oldest sister to live in St Vincent with my aunt. It was three of us in Barbados, one in St. Vincent, but she was here in the U.S. So she tried to send me like, 'OK, come to America and live with me,' blah, blah blah. But it was never a connection. Like my mother, I don't know-- I find, and this is my opinion, that Caribbean women, I think we're breaking out of that right now with this generation, but older Caribbean women, it's like they were raised to be hard and they don't show emotion, they don't show love, they don't show that kind of thing. And my mother had this thing where-- I don't know--I think that she just hated me because having me didn't get her my dad. I always felt like that.
She wouldn't say it verbally, but it was always this feeling. And she would say certain things like--my sister is darker than me--so she would say, 'Oh, she's a good looking darkie.' Stupid stuff like that and then all of her friends would like me and she'd been like, 'I don't understand why people like you like that,' And I'm like, I'm not doing anything but being myself. But that would always offend her. That would always make her mad.
NSNC: How was it living with your mom in America?
I was a slave in her house. She did a live in job so it would be me and my sister by ourselves at the house all the time. Only on weekends, she would come home and then back out on Monday. So I would have to get up, get us ready for school, make sure we are on time and all that. And I was still killing in school because I always was like, naturally smart with school work. I would come home and give her my report card because you feel good. And I'm excited to go home, you know, and I'm showing her my report card and she would say, 'I'll look at it later.' What parent does that? She would never be interested.
NSNC: What were the differences between the way she treated you and the way she would treat your sister?
She would buy a sweater for both of us and then she'd be like, 'Oh, I'm going to give her the best color.' Minor stuff like that and I'd be like, 'OK.' I always had a thick skin so it bothered me but really didn't bother me because I'm always like 'Whatever. I still got my Nana.'
Realizing that the living arrangement with her mom wasn't going to work, Aria went back to Barbados. She stayed with Nana for the next three years while her sister stayed in the states. Eventually, her father married another woman from the Bronx. This time, her dad, who was in the process of getting a green card, sent for her. But living with her father didn't prove to be any better. Aria had already developed a body and her new stepmother took extreme measures trying to hide it. She told Aria she could no longer wear jeans, just long skirts. Her father didn't speak up for her so she ended up moving back in with her mother. Things had not changed. Aria noticed that her mother would buy her sister new clothes but wouldn't buy her any. So she decided to look for work. After convincing a salon owner to hire her despite being only 15-years-old, Aria got the job. But her mother wasn’t happy about the news.
I asked her if I could work. She's like, 'No, you ain't working, I don't want you to work because when I want you to have, that's when you gone have.'
NSNC: Oh wow.
Aria took the job anyway. She had to tell her mother where she was going everyday after school. And surprisingly, when she did, her mother said, ‘Oh that’s good.’
My first check I remember was a $168. That lady... She was like, put that money right here. This is for your sister, for school, this is for the light bill. She took my whole thing and broke it down. And I was like, 'Mom, why I can't keep my first check? I don't mind giving you something, but why I can't keep my first check for me? You know, I need sneakers, I need clothes I need stuff.' She was like, 'Oh, you selfish...' and all that. And I'm like, how is that selfish?
Aria’s mother threw the money back at her, cussing her out but ultimately she let her keep the check.
So the next week now, I'm running home from school to drop my bag and I see her and my sister walking around the corner and going to the supermarket. I call out to her and she says, 'Go home and stay home. I don't want you to work.' Right on the street. So I'm like, what?! So now I'm crying. Back in the day, I didn't have no cell phone. So I went to the corner store and just bought them little $2 phone cards or whatever, to call long distance. So I got the phone card, ran home. I saw my father walking down the block, but I wanted to get home before he came over.
I ran up there and I call Nana in Barbados and I'm crying. I'm like, 'I don't understand why she don't want me to work. Like I'm not rude to her. I'm not a disrespectful child, like, I don't understand why she's doing this. My grades are good.'
Eventually, Aria buzzes her father into the building and he starts talking to Nana, his ex wife. Aria hangs up with Nana and calls the woman at the shop to explain that her mother will no longer allow her to work. Then she calls Nana back. Aria’s mother comes back upstairs with her sister and starts arguing with Aria’s father and Nana in Barbados. At one point in the conversation, Nana reminds Aria's mother that she has never been a true maternal figure to her daughter. The two women go back and forth before Aria’s mother gives up and says 'Do what you want to do.' So Aria put her clothes back on and went to the shop to work.
So I worked that day. Our apartment was a studio, with one couch and one bed. Sometimes my mom would sleep on the couch and me and my sister would sleep in the bed. And we would rotate. But that night when I came home, that lady told me, ‘You cannot sleep on my bed and cannot sleep on my couch from today. You have to sleep on the floor.' She said, 'You can't use my blanket and you can't use my pillows. So I had to sleep on the floor just like that.'
NSNC: It's like Cinderella, forreal.
I know... for that one night. The next day I got up, went outside to like this little 99 cent store and I bought a set of sheets with the money that I had and I bought one pillow, so I had to sleep on the floor on that. Every night from then on she stopped speaking to me. I could not eat in the house, none of her groceries, don't touch nothing that she bought. The only thing I was allowed to do was use the bathroom, shower, go to school. And that was it. No food, no sleeping on her bed or couch. Don't watch her TV.
NSNC: Gurl, no.
Yup. And that's how it continued for months and months and months. So I used to play this Caribbean English game called Netball. My coach's daughter was in my class at school and they were from Trinidad, so we would play sometimes when I didn't have to work. We became close. My Netball coach owned a building. My mother, for some reason, I don't know if she wasn't making enough money, but the guy that owned the building, he wanted to evict her from the studio apartment. So this is months now, we haven't spoken. She don't speak to me at all.
But all of a sudden she comes to me and she's like, 'Can you ask the netball coach if I could rent an apartment from him?' This is after not speaking to me after all these months, I'm like, 'OK.' So I go to netball. I asked him. And he's like, 'Yeah, I have an apartment. But if she can't pay for studio, how she gonna pay for a two bedroom?'
I don't know. He says, 'You know what, I'm going to take a chance on her and only because of you. I don't want you guys to be on the street.' I go and tell her. She's like, 'OK, I'm going to come up with the money somehow.' She comes up with the money. I don't know if she got a loan. I don't know. What she did was she gave me the money. So now I go back to their house and give it to him. He gave her the keys.
Now, like say a week or two pass. I remember getting up Friday morning to go to school and she's like, 'I'm moving tomorrow and I don't want you to move with me.' So I'm like, 'OK.' Because I always was like, OK. I'm gonna make it. I don't care what you say.
NSNC: What was it about you that made you feel like?
I don't know, I just always had that in me that's just like my personality, you know, like some people they have things where they like take everything personal. Like I've always had tough skin.
Part of the reason Aria wasn't afraid of being thrown out of her mother's house was because she had started talking to an older boy, also from Barbados. She asked him and his mother if she could stay with them. The boy's mother agreed.
I got my little blanket up or whatever. I remember I had $150 or something like that. And I took $100. I bought two suitcases. I came in and I packed up whatever I had bought. Whatever she bought me from before, I left. She's cursing me: 'Oh you're going to be pregnant and you're gonna catch AIDS' and just going off for no reason. I'm boiling up inside but I'm keeping my composure because I'm like after today, I'm not dealing with this lady. So I pack up all my stuff and I'm going down the stairs or whatever to as I go down the stairs. She come--you know, that old, Proverb if you throw salt behind somebody, they don't come back. So she comes outside and she throws the whole thing of salt and is like, 'Oh yeah, don't come back.' And I'm thinking what am I doing to deserve this?
So when I get down to the bottom right outside the door, but you still got those steps to go down to the street. I'm trying to flag down a cab or whatever. Every cab is full. She comes down the stairs cursing and carrying on. 'I want you to meet life hard!' And I'm like, lady, you said you wanted me to leave and you're still coming.
She comes and she pushes me. So I dropped the suitcase. I don't know how I did it. But I dropped these suitcases and I turned around and I grabbed onto her. So me and her tumbled down all those steps and I remember hitting my forehead on the concrete. I didn't know I was bleeding until an hour or so later, but I can remember boom, hitting my forehead on the concrete and then me and her just was fighting like two big women out there. Because at this point I was angry, I'm like leave me alone.
This man comes and sees us and is like, 'Why are you hitting your mother?!' Like, you know, I'm automatically wrong because it looks like a mother and daughter, so you know, in people's mind, you're wrong because you're the child. So I just remember this man snatching me up off off her, right? She was on the floor and I was on top and I was just wailing on her. He snatches me off of her, random stranger walking down the street, and he hails a cab, opened the door and threw me in the back of the cab.
NSNC: Did he put your luggage in there?
No! My luggage is on the step, so she's hopping after the cab boom, boom, boom. She hitting the man car.
The cab driver is like, 'What's going on? Get Out, get out, get out.' But I wasn't getting out. So he pulled off. I get to the guy's house, the guy that I was seeing, and his mom is like, 'What happened? Your face is bleeding!' This whole time I'm thinking I'm sweating because I'm so pumped. I'm just wiping my face. I can't even feel it. But when I look my whole shirt, everything's full of blood. It was like, just gushing.
Aria's boyfriend's mother suggests she take a nap and tells her they'll get the suitcases when she wakes up. When she returned to her house, Aria sees her suitcases inside the entryway to the apartment. A neighbor tells her he's moved them inside because her mother left them on the stoop.
We walk up and my mother starts cursing and carrying on. She won't let us in. We walk down to Fulton Street and we see a cop car. So we start telling the cops what's going on. They're like, 'OK, you know, we have to take you to the precinct because you're telling us that you're under age blah, blah, blah.' I'm like, damn. Now I regret talking to them because I just thought they was gonna escort me, let me get my stuff and then I'll be on my way. No, they were like, 'Oh, and you have a bruise there. How did that happen?' So now I gotta explain. I don't really want to explain. I'm like the laws here are so...'
Yeah, ridiculous. So now I'm explaining. They're like, 'No problem. We're going to help you get your stuff.' We go to the precinct. They tell me I need to speak to the sergeant. Then he tells me, 'We have to take you to the hospital.' I don't want to go to the hospital. I just want my stuff and that's it. My boyfriend's mother had been with me the whole time. But she said, 'I gotta go pick up my grandkids, are you going to deliver her back to my house?' So they're like, 'Yeah, yeah, we're gonna deliver her back. What's your address?' So she told them. Then she said, 'OK, I'll be waiting for you.'
So at this point, they take me to the hospital and like I'm sitting in there for hours, waiting for them to check out my face now. They got to take pictures on my face, you know, when I'm going and I'm like, I don't want to go to the hospital, I don't want no medicine, whatever. And so they are forcing me to go there because of these two male cops. Everybody is asking questions. 'Your mom did that to you?' I tell the story over and over and over. So now they've taken all these pictures or whatever and they take me back to the precinct.
NSNC: They're going to file charges against your mom.
NO! next thing I know I'm in the back of a van going into foster care.
Yes. Somewhere in Manhattan. Like why am I here? I have no clue what's going on at this point. You get there and it's like bootcamp. They give you a blue sweatsuit, they take the laces out of your shoe. You just, you have nothing.
You can read part two of Aria's story next week.