One Man’s Reality of Being Black in America

A plea for understanding and help from James Alvin Barnes, Jr. “JB” is a rap artist (find him on Twitter)struggling to overcome parts of his past and a physical disability. Here is what he has to say to America:

What Do I Do, America?

jb2Hello, America.

My name is James Alvin Barnes Jr.  I’m here today because I have a story to tell you about my life. Before you judge me, I’m not writing this because I need money, fame, or any kind of media attention.  I’m specifically writing this to open up the eyes for the ones that don’t know.

I’m from a small town called Boston, Ga., a rural town about 30 miles west of Valdosta, Ga.  I come from a place where there are plantations, cotton fields, watermelon fields, corn fields, anything that has to do with agriculture, is grown where I come from. As a young kid I saw how hard my mom father which is my grandfather Nathaniel Wells Sr.  Seen how hard he worked.  Even though my parents divorced when I was nine months, I grew up seeing how hard my mother and father worked to make a honest living.

I stayed in my hometown until the age of 10.  My mother had gotten re-married, and she, and me and my oldest sister moved to the Atlanta area, College Park Ga to be exact.  After my middle school years I decided to move back to my hometown to get close to my father and my two younger sisters.

My father equipped me with the things a Man needs to know.  As far as, how to stay on top of your business, and most of all he told me “no matter what, always be there for your sister’s”.  Which stuck with me, I took that to heart.  I graduated from High School in May of 2004.  Tried to attend a technical college, but didn’t work out because the grant wasn’t enough to cover my remedial courses.

In October of 2004, I started my first job working at John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, Ga.  My job position was an transporter, I enjoyed the job and what I did.  I left there because I got a better position at Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center #962 in Valdosta, Ga March of 2006.  My oldest daughter was born August of 2007.  I worked at Lowe’s until September 18, 2011 due to the fact I was a victim of a shooting.

During this time my daughter’s mother was expecting our second child.  I was also on probation due to an DUI I had gotten earlier in May of 2011.  Which I violated my probation, because I was drinking the night I was shot, when I wasn’t suppose to consume any alcohol.

What lead up to the shooting was that an older cousin of mine (he was the age of 34 at the time) was having a sexual relationship with my younger sister (which she was 17 at the time) for over a year 1/2 period.  Wasn’t aware of this information until my other sister (age 19 during the time) told me about it.  I felt it was disgusting, disrespectful, and dishonest for him to do.  Besides he was married with two children of his own.

jbAs a brother, I always went by with what my father had taught me.  Which was to protect my sister’s.  Me and my cousin had an verbal altercation, then it got physical, I got the best of him.  Thinking we could sit down and talk about it the next day, instead he came back to my father’s house to come kill me.

The first shot fired grazed my foot, the second shot fired shattered my femur bone.  I didn’t know I was hit until me and my father had him pinned down onto the ground.  I had to have surgery done, had to get a Titanium Rod placed in on my right side, going from my hip to my knee.

A month after surgery, I had to be to court due to the violation of my probation.  I didn’t think the judge was going to send me to jail do to my condition, but he did anyway.  Which was the best thing that happened to me.  It help me realize what was more important.  I also got closer to God when I was incarcerated.  He gave me instructions and guidelines to follow.  After being released in November of 2011, I moved back to the Atlanta area to recover, to heal, and a fresh start in life.

I finished out my probation sentence in August of 2012.  As of today I’ve been sober for 18 months, and I’m more closer to God than I have ever been in my life.

The problem I have today is that I’m disabled, I’m not able to work a regular 9 to 5 job do to my physical condition.  I’m not able to perform any job duties at a continuous rate.  I’m not able to sit or stand for long periods of time.  So where does that leave me America?  I’m unemployed, no medical insurance, and my social security claim is still pending after 13 months.  I’m still in severe pain after 18 months from being shot.

It puts me in a hard position at this point in my life.  Doctor’s don’t won’t to give you service because of exceeding balances.  Previous doctor’s offices calling harassing me about paying a bill, but already knew my situation after I explained every detail to them.  The help I’m expecting to get from the Social Security Office are taking their sweet time making a decision from my claim.  My body is not the same, my quality of life as a 26 year old is below average.  I get unemployment benefits only for a limited time.  I have two daughters to provide for.  After providing for them and doing my best to pay off Doctor bills, where does that leave me as a black man living in America?

I want you (the reader) to see things from my point of view for just a moment.  I understand that it my be others worst off than I am.  I am just a honest person that’s disabled trying to figure out how come it takes so long for help to come to you after you’ve done all you can do.

I feel the American system is unfair to an certain extent.  I have experienced bias from both a lawyer and a doctor when I was in need.  I felt they were that way towards me due to my age.  They felt I could heal quickly to do normal activities again, but that’s not the case with me.  I felt it was not right, in the meantime I kept pushing.  At this point I have pushed my body too far.  My body is not able to take anymore blows.  As a young black man that’s living honest in America, I leave it up for the nation to decide what’s fair for me at this point in my life.

Thanks in advance for reading my thoughts.


James Alvin Barnes, Jr.

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