Recently I was reading an article by Al-Jazeera English1 about a young man, named Adolfo Davis, who has been in prison in Illinois since he was 14. Now he is 38, one year older than me, and will spend the rest of hos life on prison.
This man had a very difficult childhood:
Davis’ father was absent and his mother was a drug addict. His grandmother, who was also caring for a bedridden husband, a son with mental disabilities and other grandkids, became his primary caregiver.
Further, Davis says:
“She took care of me and everybody else, you know. But she couldn’t keep an eye on me a lot, or pay as much attention as I needed at the time. So it led me to the streets.”
His childhood was so traumatic that:
Davis had his first brush with the law at the age of 9, when he says he was so hungry he attempted to snatch a bag of food from a little girl. His file also shows that a young Davis would bang his head against the wall until it bled, burn himself with cigarettes and wet the bed, Chicago Public Radio reported. He also suffered nightmares, severe insomnia and hallucinations
What amazes is how similar and how different me and Mr Davis are. We are both male, about the same age and both American. But our family and upbringing were so different. Further, I am white and Davis is not. In light of his challenges, Davis had almost 0 chances for success. He was doomed from birth.
It’s truly amazing how family and environment can affect a child’s life.
1 I don’t trust American news sources because they are politically-polarized and not very good quality so I like reading external sources such as the BBC, Al-Jazeera and sometimes the Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese).