by Tara Cameron
“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” –Diogenes
These are the words engraved on the walls of a school that lies directly in the South Robinson community in Oklahoma City. But what has become of this community since its construction in 1928? Have these words, etched in beautiful, 3 story stone, with its castle like walls, become just another piece of history, faded and buried into the bricks with memories of what once was?
As a school day ends, teenagers leave this very building and make their way home as they walk the streets of S. Robinson. Teen girls get propositioned by “Johns” in their cars and young girls pass by prostituted women who walk the same streets. Drug paraphernalia, used condoms and sex plague the streets among these children and no one seems to notice… not even the children.
It’s normal to them. It’s home. Desensitized to the acts of violence, sirens, gunshots, and death, what kind of foundation stands under their feet? What kind of education leads to the deterioration of a community? Is it the same type of education that Diogenes was speaking of? Maybe not…look closer.
Among some of the children that share these streets with pimps and sexual predators, are children of the prostituted women who walk them. What happens to these children who grow up in a world where they know nothing other than what’s “normal” to them? How can a society shamelessly judge and hold accountable when they turn their heads to the education being instilled in their youth on these streets they call home?
Multiple pregnant prostituted women walk these streets today. Where did those women come from? What led them down those paths? Did they grow up, desensitized in the same way these children are today in the South Robinson community? Did they grow up in a world that was the only kind of normal they know? What kind of world will their babies grow up in when they’re born?
Will they grow up in foster care? Drug addicted babies taken from birth and placed into the system… taken from it’s mother because she can’t even help herself… babies who most people don’t want to adopt because they have severe physical or mental disabilities due to being born into addiction… What kind of life lays ahead for a crack baby that no one wants? Is it a lifetime of behavioral disorders, moving from one foster home to the next, never really knowing what a home is?
What about generational cycling? Children whose mother pimp them out at an early age and show them the only way of life they know, ending up full of addictions and selling their own bodies. Currently, a known mother and daughter team of prostituted women on S. Robinson are about to begin their 3rd generation of the cycle. What will happen to the baby of this daughter, whose mother raised her on these streets, neither of them knowing any other way of life? What will this young mom be able to teach her own child? What life experiences will she pass on to her own flesh and blood?
And what about children raised in sex trafficking rings who are left to be cared for by other prostituted women while their moms are trained, forced, and sold into slavery… What kind of life do children live surrounded in a ‘corral’ of enslaved women, among drugs and violence? What kind of future is ahead for the little girls that grow up being educated under the dictatorship of a pimp? What about the boys? What becomes of their view of women?
What about the prostituted women, the mothers, who die on those streets? Killed in cold blood like the disposable waste that society and their pimps see them as? What happens to her children that are left behind in tears without their mother, who saw nothing but everything good in her? Often they are abandoned to their grandparents or given up for adoption because their mother can’t take care of them. Some mothers fear they will lead their child into the same horrible life and hurt them, so they make the choice to give them away because they want their child to have a better chance at life than they ever had.
These are only a few thoughts to ponder on the life of a child of a prostituted woman. They are the children in the shadows, etched into the stone of memories, faded away into the background while society looks the other way and forgets about the stones they once built their foundations on… a society that is desensitized to the normalcy of everyday life for these children. How can you see what you don’t see? You only have to open your eyes.