Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Short Violent Life of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer: So Young to Kill, So Young to Die.

On Wednesday, August 31, 1994, Yummy “Robert” Sadifier was shot in the back of the head with a .25 caliber pistol at a viaduct at 108th & Dauphin Avenue in Roseland, Chicago, IL. At 12:30 am police found him lying on dirt and bits of broken glass according to newspaper reports. They pronounced him dead at 2:20 am, on Thursday, September 1, 1994. He was the city’s 637th murder victim of the year.

On January 3, 1993, The Chicago Tribune ran a headline, “Killing Our children,” that read: “In 1992, 57 children age 14 or under were murdered in the Chicago area, felled by snipers, sacrificed by gangs, killed by parents. It was a year for burying the young.”

In early ‘94, when I was just in the second grade and we lived in the Robert Taylor Projects on Chicago’s south side, my uncle came to pick us up from school early because the gangs were at war and there was a lot of shooting. We had to run to our building, shielded by our uncle.

This is the kind of environment Yummy’s growing up in.

Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was born on March 12, 1983, the fourth of ten children born to Lorina Sandifer. His father, Robert Atkins, went to prison three months before he was born and Lorina was a prostitute who neglected her children, according to news reports. On January 19, 1986, they removed Robert Jr. from his mother’s home when police found him and his older siblings in the house alone. DCFS, the Department of Children and Family Services, intervened in August 1986 and turned Robert and his siblings over to their grandmother Jannie Fields. But a Cook County Probation Officer, according to Time Magazine, said that Field’s home was not a nurturing place for Robert. The young Robert found refuge in the streets among gang members as most young black males do who grow up poor, no family, no friends, no education and little opportunity. Yummy joined the gang and racked up a record too long for his young age.
  • January, ’92 – Arrested
  • July ’92 – Prosecuted for robbery, case dropped, witness doesn’t show
  • January ’93 – Attempted robbery, trying to steal jacket, witness doesn’t show, case dropped
  • May, ’93 – Attempted Robbery, key witness doesn’t appear
  • June, ’93 –  Robbery Charge, sentenced 2 yrs probation, he is only ten

Yummy was charged with 23 felonies and 5 misdemeanors in his short life. He was prosecuted on eight felonies and convicted twice; sentenced to probation – the most punitive penalty available under state law, at the time, for children under 13. Even for murder, state law barred jailing children under 13 in an Illinois Department of Corrections youth facility.” – https://newafrikan77.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-forgotten-story-of-robert-yummy-sandifer/

Yummy also used guns, allegedly killing Shavon Dean, a 14-year-old girl who lived next door to him two weeks before his own murder.

“Police hunted Yummy, putting descriptions of him in the paper and pounding the streets for the eleven-year-old on the run. By midnight, August 29, 1994, the Chicago Police were working with FBI agents with 20-30 officers involved (Detective Cornelius Spencer). “Dozens of police officers – tactical units, gang crimes officers and detectives –joined by members of the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force fanned out searching for the boy as far away as Milwaukee, nearly two hours away, where Yummy had a relative, Nevels told The Chicago Sun-Times. The case was discussed at roll calls at every police district in the city.” – https://newafrikan77.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-forgotten-story-of-robert-yummy-sandifer/

Grandmother fields also searched for her grandson. She received a call from him asking why the police were looking for him. He was ready to come home. They agreed to meet on 95th Street but when she got there Yummy was gone. She waited until 10:00pm. The boy never showed. Yummy was murdered at 12am, a sad end to a 77-hour boy-hunt that put Chicago on the map for its violence.

Robert had no mother, no father, and no family to nurture him. In fact, he was abused. He was taken to the hospital at 22 months with cigarette burns on his body.

“There were 49 scars,” said Donoghue at the trial of Derrick Hardaway. “I had to use two diagrams.” There were so many scars on Yummy’s body he could not use the one chart typically used by medical examiners.”

He turned to the streets and was said to be an impressionable kid. He looked up to gang members and was a member of the BDs or Black Disciples. Based on the descriptions of the robbery charges and the witnesses “not showing,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that the crimes Robert committed were being ordered by older and higher-ranking members of the gang. They had to silence him before the police got to him. “Dead men tell no tales,” said a 37-year-old uncle of Robert. “They put him to sleep.”

How does one judge the criminal life of an eleven-year-old with no stability? I can only imagine how scared he must have been with the FBI and police looking for him.

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As a kid, Robert was small for his age. He loved to swim, draw, and loved cars. He loved Gyros, Chocolate Chip and Oreo cookies. He loved cookies so much so that it gave him the nickname Yummy. A neighbor interviewed says he was bad, fought and broke into people’s houses.

The mayor of Chicago admitted that Yummy had slipped through the cracks. Just what cracks were those? The sharp crevices that trap children and break them into cruel little pieces. Chicago’s authorities had known about Yummy for years. He was born to a teenage addict mother and a father now in jail. As a baby he was burned and beaten. As a student he often missed more days of school than he attended. As a ripening thug he shuttled between homes and detention centers and the safe houses maintained by his gang. The police arrested him again and again and again; but the most they could do under Illinois law was put him on probation. Thirteen local juvenile homes wouldn’t take him because he was too young.

-Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine

“Nobody didn’t like that boy. Nobody gonna miss him,” said Morris Anderson, 13. Anderson used to get into fistfights with Yummy. “He was a crooked son of a___,” said a local grocer, who had barred him from the store for stealing so much. “Always in trouble. He stood out there on the corner and strong- armed other kids.” (Murder in Miniature, Time Magazine)

“Everyone thinks he was a bad person, but he respected my mom, who’s got cancer,” says Kenyata Jones, 12. Yummy used to come over to Jones’ house several times a month for sleep-overs. “We’d bake cookies and brownies and rent movies like the old Little Rascals in black and white,” says Jones. “He was my friend, you know? I just cried and cried at school when I heard about what happened,” he says, plowing both hands into his pants pockets for comfort before returning to his house to take care of his mother. “And I’m gonna cry some more today, and I’m gonna cry some more tomorrow too.”

According to Yummy’s aunt:

“He wasn’t violent and he wasn’t bad. The way they talkin bout now, that’s not true. He was this and he was that and I know that he was not. He was very short to be his age, he was real short. He was very smart he could draw, he could read, he could write.”

Gloria, Robert’s Aunt, Weekend TV, September, 1994

According to news reports though, Robert was illiterate and personally, I believe it. I think he was smart (as his friends says he used to invent stuff and at 11 he already knew how to drive cars), but I also believe he had no guidance and no one there to nurture him. I believe his aunt that he was smart but I also believe he struggled in school. Coming from a broken home and struggling as he did goes hand in hand with not excelling academically. I wish there was someone there to nurture his intellect. It makes me sad to think he had no one.

Shavon’s aunt, the teen Robert killed by stray bullet, also says in the same video that she never had a problem out of Robert. “He respects me,” she said in the film. She has even taken him on a trip with her. She says, “I can’t say that he killed my niece because I wasn’t there. It was at nighttime and nighttime has no eyes and bullets have no direction.”

Was Yummy innocent or guilty? Did his age make him innocent or did his murders make him guilty? How does one judge the criminal life of an eleven-year-old who was about to turn himself in when he was shot in the head? And what of the two young brothers found guilty of his murder? They were young too and ordered to kill Yummy by the same gang in exchange for their own lives. This story is sad because ultimately, four babies lost their lives: Shavon Dean (14), Cragg and Derrick Hardaway (16 and 14, currently spending their lives behind bars for Yummy’s murder), and Robert “Yummy” Sandifer.

Only Yah can judge them.

 

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On September 2nd, the Chicago Tribune ran an article called Robert: Executed at 11, calling Yummy a Victim and Victimizer. September 19, 1994, Yummy stared out at the country on the front cover of the September edition of Time Magazine with the headline:

“The Short Violent Life of Robert ‘Yummy‘ Sandifer: So Young to Kill So Young to Die.”

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Subconsciously Lusting

No, not that kind of lusting. Stay focused people.

I’m watching The Real before heading out to my part-time (which means I better hurry this post up) and I loved how Adrienne gave the story about the dress she wore and posted to IG, and how it was actually a Forever 21 Dress she paid $17 for. I appreciated this because so many young people look at the lives of celebrities and want what they have without a clue of what it actually means. I say all of that to say to my young people:

Don’t fall into the trap of ingratitude by subconsciously lusting for what you don’t have. Learn to admire from a distance, remembering that what you see is not always reflective of what actually is. You don’t know the pain behind the smile or the storms that person has endured to get to where they are. Sometimes you’ll see people with amazing strength but you don’t know what it took or what it will take for you to have the same kind of resolve. You also don’t know if that person’s possessions are honest or if they actually sold out to get it. If you log into Instagram or Twitter for instance, you will see a lot of inspirational advice from celebrities on the importance of working hard and how they acquired their success. While celebrities are real people, it’s not that simple. Not every celebrity worked hard and overcame trials and worked their way to the top. Some of them sold out. (And no, I am not saying Adrienne sold out. I don’t know her personally and I don’t know what her life is like privately. Her post is just motivation for this message. If she never said she bought the dress at Forever 21, ya’ll would be secretly wishing you had lots of money so you can buy that dress.) My point is this:

You are already in such a great place even if you’re struggling than many of the people whose lives you wish you had. The grass is only as green as your mindset to quote Meggan Roxanne. If you stop focusing on other people and instead nourish where you are it will be fruitful. Just because your cup is not overflowing does not mean that it is empty. You just have to appreciate what you have now and be content knowing there is water in the cup and it is enough. Now, I gotta go but for those of you following celebs online and secretly feeling some kind of way, don’t lust after what you don’t understand. Remember that spoiled milk can still be white. Stay woke.

Movie Night Friday – Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

The Dog EC Hired to Help Host Movie Night Friday.

This isn’t my favorite movie (It’s actually been a long time since I’ve seen it) but it is one of those coming of age movies I liked growing up. While I don’t like everything about it, like all the movies I enjoy, it does combine elements from some of my favorite things. Before we get into some of what I love about it, let’s get a quick glance at what this movie is about.

Wikipedia:

In this sequel, Las Vegas performer Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is surprised by a visit from her nun friends, including Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) and Sister Mary Lazarus (Mary Wickes). It appears Deloris is needed in her nun guise as Sister Mary Clarence to help teach music to teens at a troubled school in hopes of keeping the facility from closing at the hands of Mr. Crisp (James Coburn), a callous administrator. Can Deloris shape the rowdy kids into a real choir?

As you can see this is a sequel but I am not a fan of the first one. I’m not a Christian/Catholic and I just wasn’t moved. I think what made me enjoy this one though is the element of the youth being involved. To me they literally made the movie.

Letters to a Young Poet – The first time I heard of Maria Rainer Rilke was watching this movie. It’s funny because in the example Deloris used to encourage one of her more rebellious students (Rita played by Lauryn Hill), she used an example in which she talked about writing. saying:

 

“Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning you couldn’t think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer.”

She was comparing this to the young woman’s desire to sing and that if she wakes up wanting to sing, then she’s supposed to be a singer. Not only did I believe what Deloris said (that if I woke up and all I could think about was writing then I’m a writer) but I also went out and bought the book when I grew up. (You gotta understand I was only six when this movie came out and didn’t see it until I was a little older). Sometimes I would watch the movie just to see this one part. Since I thought about writing, I knew she was talking about me.

Comedy – Of course, I love Whoopi’s comedy in the movie as well as the other women playing the nuns. I love to laugh and will rarely pass up a movie that gives a few chuckles.

Music – One of my favorite things about the movie is obviously the music. I loved hearing the kids voices and watching them transition as the choir began to take shape. And of course ya’ll know they jammed at the end.

Investing in our Youth – Just the fact that the movie is about someone taking the time to invest something positive into the lives of children is a huge plus for me. Now, it’s no Lean on Me but its still cool. The students were, as the description calls them “rowdy” when Deloris first met them. Talking back and playing cruel tricks on their teacher. Largely Black and Hispanic, the children live in the community and are barely being taught as the school does not have enough money for books. In fact, the school is in danger of closing down due to a lack of funding and of course, this will displace the children to schools in other districts. I liked seeing the different personalities of the children and seeing how they grew throughout the movie. With a passion for singing it is possible that they could be the first in their families to graduate and do something with their lives they never thought possible.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“If you wanna go somewhere, if you wanna be somebody, then you better wake up and pay attention. Cause the world out there don’t care how cool you think you are or who you kick it with. It don’t matter. If you don’t have an education, you don’t have anything and that’s the truth honey.”

“So because you think they sang it better, ya’ll are ready to leave cause you got scared…Let me remind you of something OK? If you wanna go somewhere and you wanna be somebody you better wake up and pay attention because if every time something scary comes up you wanna run, ya’ll are gonna be running for the rest of your lives.”

Sister Act 2 Trailer (even though to me they didn’t really show the good parts lol)

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Beautiful Boy and Beautiful Girl by Jenita Hunt

Title: Beautiful Boy, Beautiful Girl

Author: Jenita Hunt

Print Length: 22 pages

Publisher: J L Hunt; 1 edition (March 23, 2016)

Publication Date: March 23, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B01DDYU91E

*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author*

Beautiful Boy and Beautiful Girl are two very short picture books for children. Simple, fun, and rhythmic, these books are great as goodnight stories or quick reads for your little ones. Incorporating everything a child enjoys, colors, pictures, and rhyme, it is sure to encourage “itty bitty’s” to look at their world in a positive light.

Many of you know me from my writing and this blog but before I dedicated my time to writing full-time, I worked with children. In fact, to an extent, I still do.

I taught creative writing as part of Louisiana’s In-Home School program for about four years and then I helped to run a research and fellowship center in Shreveport for about five more years teaching and working with children. Having experienced being around kids and working with them, I enjoyed taking the time to stop reading novels for a moment for something simple and found these books a breath of fresh air. I noticed that I smiled through my reading of them both. As someone passionately in love with children, I hope to see more from J.L. Hunt in the future.

The Author, Jenita, has always had a heart for children and writing. She has worked several years caring for children as a Professional Nanny and has been honing her writing craft over the years.

Ratings:

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall Rating: 5 / 5

Beautiful Boy and Beautiful Girl are both available on Amazon in both eBook and Paperback.

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Be Sure to Follow Jenita online!

https://www.amazon.com/J-L-Hunt/e/B01DDAKQX4


As a reminder, I am closed to Book Review Submissions at this time for a chance to catch up on my TBR pile. I will let everyone know when I am open again.

Stay tuned for my next awesome author!

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5 Key Ingredients All Young Adult Novels Must Have

Post Quote: “The young adult market is unyielding in popularity, at least for the foreseeable future, but this also means it’s a flooded market with content published daily. So the big question right now is how can an author stand out from the crowd?”

A Writer's Path

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by Katie McCoach

The young adult market is unyielding in popularity, at least for the foreseeable future, but this also means it’s a flooded market with content published daily. So the big question right now is how can an author stand out from the crowd?

The answer is writing a seriously great YA novel. That may seem like the most common advice ever, right? Writing a good book should be the goal of all writers, but to hit the YA readers the hardest an author needs to make sure they are giving readers what they want and telling a good story at the same time. Great content gets noticed, and word of mouth is king in the publishing industry.

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Dear Hip Hop…

Who Willie Lynched your mentality?
Who put you under a spell?
Why you let them teleport you back to slavery?
They could have at least made it look good
didn’t have to hang you on the block
in your own hood
from your own trees
could have bridged the gap
between the souls you “sold” for rap
could have at least duct taped pieces of the truth
so you didn’t look like the signs of the times
didn’t have to trade your crown
for nursery rhymes
spill your blood on the ground
like wasted time
look how intoxicated you are
don’t know the difference between what truth and being real is
Is we being real?
There’s a reason that last line ain’t grammatically correct
gotta spit truth a lot truthful than that
since when did speaking the Kings English
ever define being black?
since when did we become something called Black?
what is that?
if you gonna spit truth
you gotta come much harder than that
and much deeper than black
you see even your conscious rappers
ain’t wrapped tight enough
can’t baptize deception in muddy waters and call it clean
can’t metaphysical the spiritual
and call it revolutionizing the struggle
can’t call it consciousness if you still sleeping
but rebellion the only thing around here get played
and you the only people around here being played
why I still hear rappers remixing they own graves?
who put yall under a spell?
don’t know why prison statistics don’t start with the prisons
outside of jails
but then again
I guess we can’t all spit truth
the records will never sell

A Message to The College Bound

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I first want to give sincere congratulations to all of my High School Grads going on to College this year! What an exciting journey! Education happens to be another passion of mine and I love seeing young people achieve. Sure, I have my thoughts on the school system as a collective whole, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. I still love the idea of continuing ones education and if I didn’t have mad student loans, it is something I wouldn’t mind going back to.

So, I was speaking to a niece of mine and I do have a some suggestions for those stepping into this new life:

  • Don’t Have Too Much Fun

College is a different world than High School. Partying and drinking all night may make you popular, but your professor will fail you, without mercy and without pity. The decisions you make now are extremely critical and they impact you for life. Don’t be the person who could have graduated but was too busy chasing sex and Hennessy to study. This is your chance to be the adult you couldn’t wait to be. This means maintaining discipline, control, and making wise decisions. College students, especially freshmen, are green lights to those who only want to cause your downfall. This is not High School which means you should always be aware of your surroundings and use logic in every decision you make.Trust for these first years should not be a big priority, get to know people first or they will take advantage of you.

  • Be Sure to Choose a Major that is in Line With the Career Path You Want to Take.

Political Science sounds good on paper, but you’ve been into math your whole life, why not accounting? Some actions don’t require research, just common sense. Make sure your majors line up with your career path and goals. Don’t just pick anything because it sounds cool, but make sure it will lead you to where you want to be. Beware also of majors that won’t get you anywhere after you graduate. For instance: Unless you are trying to be a preacher, a major in Theology’s not going to do much for you. Philosophy is another one that sounds deep, but won’t take you anywhere in the real world. Make sure your course of study is in an area that is strong, where there are plenty of careers in that field.

  • Don’t Choose Your School Just Because of its Prestigious Reputation

Don’t believe the hype. I’m sure we would all like to go to Harvard but there’s a good chance you can save a lot of money going to a smaller school and receive the same level of education. Don’t limit yourself to what you see on TV, but keep your options open and never participate in something because you just heard about it. Do your research and make sure it’s the right thing for you.

  • Have Fun!

There’s enough hard work and study to go around for everybody, but don’t forget to enjoy the experience because once its over that’s it. You will never get the opportunity to experience this again. Even as we age, College for the first time is never as fresh and as exciting as it is when you are fresh out of High School. Many of you will have your own apartments for the first time, your own space by way of a dorm room, you’ll get to pay your own bills for the first time and make big decisions on your own. It’s just a different experience at 17 and 18, than 40 and 45 because life is just beginning; so if you have a chance to do it now don’t wait. Take it all in, study but don’t forget to breathe, it’s a wonderful moment and it will disappear before you know it. I started off saying not to have too much fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any. Just balance your time and discipline yourself and you’ll do fine.