To save you some time right off the bat, let me say from a wise proverb I once heard..."never ignore the day of small beginnings". The life of every person on the planet begins in mere obscurity and mine is not without that exception.
Most people forget to remember so let me remind you, that in the reproductive state we were once so small. Smaller than a period made from a sharp pencil tip. Yes, you and me were once so small we were beyond vision. You couldn't see yourself with the naked eye even if you wanted to. Our birth really is quite supernatural and a lot more spirit filled than some doctors and scientist fail to proclaim. While I'm not here to debate what others believe I am confident of what I have learned through experience.
Now I'll begin my story here...the early part of my life took its roots on the South Side of Chicago. I was born in a house during a time when hospital deliveries were the norm. My birth was very outside the norm though because Momma didn’t have time to get to the hospital. She said the doctor delivered me by telephone. So I guess you could say the telephone company had something to do with my getting here safely. I’m probably the first Telecommunications baby (lol).
Since I was born on the South Side you could say I was born to be a White SOX fan. Well Momma decided to name me after Daddy but that’s where things began to change. Instead of Momma naming me exactly after Daddy she decided to do a new thang. While she liked Daddy’s name (which Granny took out of the Bible) Momma wanted desperately to give me the middle name of the great movie producer Cecile B. Demilles.
And that’s how I ended up with the middle name DeMills. This inspired Momma to give me the name Deremiah, which is almost like Jeremiah. Jeremiah means Jeh-vah does exalt. However, Deremiah means "Jeh-vah does succeed." Jeh-vah is the Hebrew name my adopted Jewish mother and our people call G-d and this is where the roots of my story sink its anchor deeply into the earth of life. YOU SEE I WAS BORN INTO A BLACK CULTURE WITH A JEWISH NAME & STRONG EUROPEAN CULTURAL OVERTONES…
Having lived in thirteen cities in the United States and two German cities in Europe, I learned rather quickly the benefits of my exposure to different cultural groups. Living in Europe I learned to swim by the time I was nine. This alone is so much different from what most of my Black friends grew up experiencing. Living in Europe after coming out of the Chicago Housing Projects is like being Eddie Murphy in the movie "Trading Places."
In length of time my experiences of other cultural groups were greater than my exposure to the Black community. And, although my Black community experiences were in shorter stints of time, they ran as equally deep in my soul because they were very intense experiences.
Sometimes our life experiences, like the roots of certain plants, can run deeper "quicker" (i.e., run deeper in a shorter period of time)... while other roots of plants take a longer time to run as deep. I have a rich European heritage that I am very appreciative of because of my exposure to Europe during my adolescent years. Oh adolescence... the time when most children are developing their understanding of who they are and equally forming their opinions and ideas about how they fit into the world.
I did live in Europe during the most formidable years, it was between 7 and a few months shy of my 12th birthday.
Europe brought out my cultural appreciation for the Arts & Music, for traveling and examining the rich landscapes of Germany. Camping out on the Rhine river was quite an experience. And who could ask for more? Learning to speak German at a time I was just learning how to speak English, I'm sure expanded the right and left hemispheres of my brain in ways I probably still can't imagine. This is not even close to the kind of exploration a Black child from the ghetto would be experiencing, and I am so humbled by that. And also, by the negative stereotypes that often confront me from other cultures and even my own.
My actual recollection pf my creative talents for painting and drawing were apparent well before I ever reached Germany (during the time when I was 4 years old). My love for architecture grew out of my European exposure to castles, sculptures, oil paintings and early 15th and 16th century churches that I was fortunate to tour while in Germany. We visited many new places through the AYA (American Youth Association.)
I also learned during my time in Germany that people were less prejudice or overtly concerned with my Blackness than my American counterparts. So I've always had a higher regard for cultural identity and appreciation for Europeans who seemed to have more open acceptance of Blacks across the board.
Furthermore, I learned that "the Black life" wasn't the only life I had to live. Unlike many other people, I could choose to be mentally and socio-economically diverse in all of my ideas and in all my points of views as well.
So while I had plenty of exposure to the ghettos of Chicago and some very challenging experiences living in Chicago Housing Projects-- in the Harold Ickes Projects and the Dearborns Projects-- it was very minuscule compared to my European exposure and the short stays I had on the North East, North West, South West, Mid-West and South Central parts of the United States. I even lived in Fairbanks, Alaska traveling by car through the Canadian mountains.
In Alaska I first started school and got a chance to see Mount Mc Kinley (and lots of snow) from my bedroom window every morning. This exposure also had a lot to do with my loving the Olympic Winter sports as much as the Summer Olympics.
These interesting hybrids of living and exposure to diverse communities certainly strengthened my appreciation for humanity. My tolerance for people across all cultures, places (diverse geographical landscapes and climates), music (all types from classical to gospel) and religions, can all be traced back to the diverse life that growing up a military brat gave me.
Learning about the Iditarod and becoming aware of Eskimos helped me to appreciate the value of the Alaskan Husky and the American Indian. So, my appreciation of the German language, its people and culture, has long been a part of how I’ve viewed the world; but, so has my multiple stays at the four corners of America.
Anyone with a background in Sociology would tell you that these experiences, if well adapted to, as was my case, would make one relationally whole and strong across cultural lines.
As you can see my stories are rather complex, yet interesting. It's not as simple as some reporters have communicated, when they have written about me. Maybe one day you'll read a critique that is well written. Well, it all sounds so romantic until...
AFTER THE UGLY DIVORCE, WE TOOK A SHARP TURN, DUE NORTH & TO THE RIGHT…
You see, while living in Oklahoma near the bottom of the pan handle, my parents' marriage began to fall apart. Yeah, after we moved from Germany, bought the four-bedroom ranch house and got the new car. Yeah, so much for the American Dream...getting things doesn't make it all better. You've got to make it better before the things come.
There marriage had already been through some experiences that would have shaken the foundation of any bride and groom's relationship. Furthermore, Momma’s emotional struggles didn’t help for making a strong marriage either.
Right after she came out of the hospital (the victim of another nervous break down), she had to show up in divorce court. I decided that when the judge asked me with which parent I wanted to live, I would stand by Momma because she needed my support. The judicial system really fails children in this part of the judicial system process. What do I mean by that? You see, the court room is no place for children to be made to deliberate over such a gut-wrenching decision. Yeah, I understand the premise...everybody's got rights and this exposes us to the right to be hurt as well.
You eventually have to learn to out-grow the pain of the guilt that comes along with the ugly circumstances of divorce. No matter how many years pass. I know that my decision really hurt Daddy way back then, and no child should have to deal with that. We went from middle class America to welfare in a blink of an eye. And before I knew it, we had taken a sharp turn, and headed due north from Oklahoma to Chicago.
And that’s where the struggle for my life began. Sometimes when I tell this story tears still manage to well up in my eyes as I’m forced to face the tragedy again and again in my mind. Imagine having to leave all of your friends during your junior year in high school without even saying goodbye. Most of these friendships were nearly five years in the making and, to this day, some of my friends don’t know what happened…just that I had disappeared off the planet like you’re in a Twilight Zone movie.
A TRAGEDY (Rising from the ashes of life), THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE AND A LIFE-CHANGING DECISION…
Coming out of poverty, going into middle-income America, to be jerked back into poverty-- this time below the poverty level-- is quite painful. Especially when you couple that with gang violence, welfare, government cheese and a move to one of the wildest high schools on Chicago’s South Side. Struggling with depression and crying profusely for weeks on end, I lost hope in everything, including myself. Then, my belief in God eroded.
My dreams were now destroyed. It seemed I had nothing to live for and, with my father now stationed on the other side of the planet and my mother still struggling to maintain her faculties, I gave up. While I was among the top running backs in Oklahoma and playing with the team predicted to win the next State Championship, I had nothing to live for because I was an athlete junky.
THE JOY OF A LIFE RESURRECTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF REACHING HURTING CHILDREN AT-RISK…
And then I had a life-changing experience wherein my faith in God was restored and my hope for the future replaced with a bigger mission. A mission that consisted of my helping hurting children like myself, and I’ve been reaching out to At-Risk Children and making a difference in their lives and this is my story.
You see this is a story where the bitter has become the sweet again as children who, like me, have given up only to find out that someone loves them enough to point their feet in the right direction.
This is why I’m determined to raise $100 Million dollars for At-Risk Children and, as you can see from my testimonies above and below, that I’m winning the world for the better.
This is my story…the story of a young man who died on the inside but then had a life-changing experience where I was resurrected from death by a loving God who gave me a reason to live again. Thanks for letting me share my story with you. Thanks for reading the courage to continue, thanks for caring and thanks most of all for sharing it with others. In so doing, yo will help me help Children who are At-Risk. Thanks, again. The children do matter.
Is there anything I can do for you?