Ready or Not


Ready or Not:   Fly Robin, Fly...
For Empowerment of All People (FEAP)

by Robin Renee Thompson (Whitehead)


Chapter 1

 My Early Years”

I was born in Harlem Hospital on January 31 in New York City (NYC). My proud parents named me Robin Renee Thompson.  I  was a  happy baby although I was sickly as a child. My body was prone to pneumonia and I recall being in and out of the hospital a lot during my adolescent years. I grew up in a one parent home where my mother basically raised me although my father was active in my life. He was known as “Ike” and was my hero from the time I could walk or talk. My childhood days were fun and always surrounded by family, aunts, cousins, brothers and my sisters, especially on holidays. I was a typical child in a fairly large family, but the youngest of my mother’s children of four. My siblings and I had a good family connection even though my father had a total of sixteen children in total, and we had a good family connection even though some of us had different mothers and in some cases different fathers too. It didn’t matter if  we had different mothers or fathers my father taught us that we were brothers and sisters, nothing was half or step in his upbringing, norms or beliefs. My father was a “rolling stone” as the song said, “Wherever he lay his hat was his home”. I have several siblings who are all very dear to me including those  that my mother didn’t birth. I am thankful my father allowed his children to grow up together; even in different homes we knew each other very well. Again the total number is approximately 16 children, and I am the third youngest out of the entire group of children.

I remember being active with modeling, dancing, and even forced to participate in karate for several years. Some things I will never forget and martial arts is one of those things. Several of my brothers mastered the art of Tae Kwon Do and we all were taught the discipline of martial arts. My father wanted all of us to learn how to be good fighters for the purpose of self-defense. We were a village in count alone and the boogie down Bronx and Manhattan knew of “Mr. Ike” and his sons. My brother known as “Ikee” in my opinion was the best fighter and the only instructor I had. My brother Hameen was also a black belt and instructor, I use to watch them in amazement. Ikee was very influential to all my siblings in teaching us the art of karate and he gathered us together more than any other sibling. I feel his presence and direct involvement in our lives made a great impact on the success of us getting united and accepted as kinship to one another. His presence demanded respect and admiration not to mention all my brothers are very handsome not exaggerating they got it from our dad. Yes, my dad was a dark smooth skinned, curly natural hair, pretty teeth handsome dude many thought he was Panamanian or Dominican. He was mixed with Indian and a descendant of the state of Alabama his story is one that needs to be told as well.

I recall my family life being normal as compared to others who lived in my public housing in the South Bronx. I grew up in Patterson Projects off 143rd and Morris Avenue across from Lincoln Hospital. I even had friends who were amazed at the family bond we maintained early in  life.  My brothers would come visit with and without my dad and they would be seven and eight deep. I would go on trips to the park, Bronx zoo, and 3rd Avenue movie theatre with my brothers and sisters. My sister Denise opened up a modeling and dancing school where I learned to model, tap dance and to be a ballerina. My brothers were drummers of the African Art of Congo drums  and we would entertain the community by putting on dance shows, and fight tournaments. Again Ikee included my sisters and me as dancers in his school and show performances. His school was located in the Bronx and they would come and pick us up if we weren’t in class. He did this for both karate and dance and trust this was not play time, I stayed getting popped because he wanted other students to know we weren’t getting special treatment because we were his little sisters or brothers. Even his girlfriend or wife at that time would pop me if I wasn’t stretching it out or doing my best and I thought that was so uncool, but now I see why they were so strict. We had a standard to maintain and others could mess up but we had little room to mess up, it was free where others were paying for those karate classes and dance lessons. I was the youngest girl so I had a lot of leniency whereas the older ones had to be on point. I’m sure my father seen to it that we all learned and participated as a family because he had so much pride when he talked about all his children because he felt we were the best. He would watch us perform in the parades and at city events or private showings and he would smile and flash those pretty whites but he didn’t play any games. We would perform in Manhattan with people like La Roc Bay who was a legend in his time. I always did my best as a child to please my father he was the only person I feared other than Ikee. I can say I had a good childhood one that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. I did well in school, socially, and developmentally and I felt safe, secure and loved.

At the age of around 11 years I became a track star. I ran for my community and the name of our track team was the “Cheetahs”. We were supposed to be the fastest cats in all five boroughs, or at least we thought we were! My track coach was named “Brother”. We loved him for giving us the chance to do something positive that represented our “hood”. We ran in “Colgate Woman Games” a track sponsorship for the inner boroughs of New York City and many other tournaments, one called “PAL” track meet. My most memorable track tournament was the Junior Olympics in California. I went, but I missed my event due to being disobedient and hiding, so I could remain at the hotel and play in the pool. I was young and made a terrible mistake because I was afraid I knew my time was the 8th best time in my sport, 880m race and I just felt I wouldn’t win a medal. I quit before the race ever began. That was a disappointment to my coach, family, and track team, but I made the choice. I lived with it and continue to think about the incident not up to this day unless I talk about it. I needed to have a stronger self- efficacy but at that time I defeated myself because I didn’t even try. I eventually made other mistakes during my history of running track, but I had a natural talent. I ran all the way through the 11th grade and even in the  United States Army track team but we will talk about that later in the book. As a youth in NYC I had so many medals and trophies that made my parents proud of me, especially my father. I recall when my dad lived on Morris Avenue he would put my trophies with other family members’ trophies on display in the front living room window, so people could see them on Morris Avenue.

When I was around the age of 13-years old, I entered Evander Childs High School in the Bronx off Gunhill Road. I was in the 8th grade, and I  recall mid-way through school my mother decided to move us to Virginia. She had many reasons why she wanted to relocate: she visited Virginia with her friend Evelyn and really liked it, made friends, and also because she was concerned for my sister, A-T who was courting a Spanish boy who lived next door. My father and brothers wasn’t going to allow that, he may have had a slight chance if he was black but Puerto Rican was out of the question. When I think of Elsie and her brother Ramon they were our neighbors period, loved the Spanish music and bright red decor inside.

I believe my mother’s main reason was because of her close friend who lived in our projects in the same building who moved to Virginia. Ms. Evelyn and she persuaded my mother it would be a better place for us to grow up. My mother visited Virginia and she really liked it, and Mr. Rowland Evelyn’s Uncle. So she decided to move down south to live with her best friend, who had four children and a dog. It was the most horrible transition of my life because my mother moved and took me and one of my sisters, the one who was affiliated with the Spanish guy next door. It was the three of us, and our dog “FeFe”. We had a small French poodle and Evelyn's family had a big black Labrador retriever. We moved in with my mother’s friend and her family of four under crowded conditions: two bedrooms with only one bathroom. So you could imagine the conditions weren’t the greatest and the house was old. Of course, I was miserable and had  a hard time adjusting to the transition especially in the school system, living conditions and change of life style. I really hated my mother for moving us at one point, because when we left New York I was not interacting with boys, drugs, or alcohol. At that time in my life all I did was run track. If she had of stayed in NYC I probably would have been running track for my high school. In Virginia I was placed back in middle school because in Virginia the 8th grade is not considered high school and they didn’t have a track team. I became rebellious.  I often cried  in the little shed in the back of the shack we lived in and I started being defiant, skipped class, stole candy and sold it, and terrorized anyone in my path. I started fighting people or beating people up big or small because it  was easy for me to do. Well put it like this I wasn't afraid and could hold my own weight coming from the Bronx.

I will continue throughout this book with references to my younger days and tell you how the events changed my life. One key point is that relocating can be very instrumental in a child’s cognitive functioning (thinking) and emotional state. It took one big fight to break the camel’s  back. I was approached one day after gym, a fellow classmate who was of Asian descent wanted to fight me over a softball game.  I thought it was a  joke I thought she knew not to mess with me because anyone who teased me for my New York accent got caught at bus or bathroom. I didn’t care if it was so called friends I didn’t have many whereas my sister A-T did. Well after gym this Asian classmate approached me at my locker and wanted to fight me. After I beat the girl down, literally in three minutes the principal wanted to paddle me in front of the school in the cafeteria. I was shocked when they called my mom’s in with this discipline approach and thought this is a wrap! Meaning it was all over, and I recall sitting in front of school official as they made the decision to expel me since paddling was out of the question. My father was living in New York and I didn’t think he would have approved of such a harsh punishment for something I didn’t initiate. I couldn’t believe they still had the slave mentality to whip or physically discipline children within the public school system. This would have never been considered in New York City public schools. I recall my mother shedding a few tears as I made the final decision that I was not going to be beat. It was bad enough I had to say, “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” when I was addressing faculty.  When  I did not include the title and simply answered yes or no, it was always referenced to being from the North or I was classified as lacking manners as most “New Yorkers”. I heard that quite often from my teachers and I wasn't being grown, just coming from different cultures. They often compared me to other students and made me feel inferior. One thing they couldn't take away I had brains, so passing test and SOL's was what I did from that point on.

After they put me out of Davis Middle School, my mother sent me to New York to live with my dad. It was in April, so I was in NYC only for the summer. My sister A-T remained in Virginia and did well in school. She acquired a new boyfriend who my mother loved I guess by him being African American, my mother and father were pleased. I know Ikee was happy because at first he told my sister that her lips were never to touch his face again after she kissed a Spanish boy. I said “wow”! Racism is an ugly monster. It was then and still is today. During the summer my mother reassured me we were moving into another school district and out of Ms. Evelyn’s house.  We would be in our own home, and things would be better.  I still never understood what was so bad in New York that she had to uproot us and bring us to the country? However, later when I look back in the 80's the crack and drugs were exploding in most inner cities. I could put references and citations throughout my writings but perhaps the next book. As of now I write without plagiarizing and those who need facts use your Alexa, Wikipedia, or Google and/or I am available to back anything I write.

As a child I thought as a child, played childish games, and developed according to my age group but with the things I was exposed too as it influenced my adolescent and young adult life. I looked over this chapter in my life and I loved jumping rope, playing in the sand park, kicking the can, and playing on the stoop. Growing up in NYC was so much fun, today its not safe or as much fun with the generation of electronic babies. The guns and violence is rampant and out of control, the kids today are hooked on electronics, drugs, sex, TV, and gangs. It is not safe anymore and society has no control with the police brutality and epidemic across the United States. I often wonder do black lives really matter. Why do we still have so much hatred, prejudice, and civil disobedience? If Christ need to come now would be the times of Noah with all the lust, deaths, disasters, hatred, and corruptions within the world. He is coming for those with the Holy Spirit in their vessels not a religion, religious group, church, or cult. Do you know God? The man on the cross beside Jesus didn't know who Jesus was but he believed in him, so he was saved! He died physically that day but was born spiritually that day. Just because you say you believe does not mean you have the faith needed to enter, on judgment day he will say enter or depart I know you not! I say all this to say get to know God personally he awaits and no man knows the day or hour when our last days will begin. As I go into another chapter of my life I give glory, honor, and praise to thee most high hallelujah! Thank you Jesus for my life, far from perfect but much better than before!

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