On Bullying

Interview Transcript:

My name is Vernita Johnson.

I am 27, I’ll be 28 this year. Growing up here in Dallas…it really has been tough for me, you know. I have been, you know, not beat up, but humiliated and tortured and bullied and stuff like that. But I always have put God into my heart. I have brothers and sisters, and I have parents: my dad and my mom. My dad is still living – he’s about in his 70s, and he gonna be dying pretty soon, I don’t know when. My mom had passed away since 2012, so it’s still hard.

Really, it’s not it’s not really a good safe place to be in the streets: I can already understand that, and I have, you know, grown up in stuff like that. Being in streets, being in a place, being back in the streets, and being back in a place…

It’s really a challenge for me, for God to, like, put me in a place to say “Hey, this is what I want you to do better, and show people…what it is to live in the streets and what not to do.” And it has been times where my my cousins – they were, they were older than me – they have like put me…like, let’s say…if I don’t do nothing right. They’ll either they’ll either bully me, they’ll beat me up, or they’ll put me in a closet or something.

My older cousin – her name is [redacted] – I remember [one time] she wanted me to get her a cup of water, I guess. And I got a cup of water for her, but I guess it wasn’t full enough for her? Or it wasn’t cold? I don’t know, but she goes in the kitchen and there’s…a knife, and she tried to, you know, stab me with it…on my chest. And luckily, I kind of [was able to] stopped her a little bit – you know, from trying to stab me deeply in my chest.

[But] I’m like…that’s not right, you know?

It has been times where she did push me. Her and my cousin did push me out the window – I still got a scar from that. Luckily, God’s still here by my side, and I’m glad I’m still living.

I have been to special ed – then I’ve been to regular classes, and special ed, and back – but I have graduated and been to college, and now I’m a mother of two kids. You know, and the only thing I can just tell my babies is just, “Hey, I don’t want y’all to be tortured or anything. I just want y’all to – just, like – just stand up for what’s right and do right and just don’t be a bully.”

Right now, me and my fiancé do live right over there at the Racetrac [a gas station in downtown Dallas where homeless people sometimes sleep] right now for a while. Like I said, it’s tough, and we’re trying our best to, you know, survive. And you know…he tries best to hustle and make money, and I do the same too. But our relationship is good. He makes me smile, I make him smile, and that’s the only thing that keeps us together, due to our love.

The only thing that interesting right now is my son who just turned one in August this year, you know, and my daughter who about to be three this year on November 10th, bless her heart. They’re both in a foster home – they’re together. I’m hoping and praying I’ll get them back hopefully.

Me and my fiancé, we’re still doing okay. We’re working on our communication – our relationship and stuff. I would love for myself to get married one day and travel and hopefully sing and stuff. And overall, I just love to help people, and I love to – you know – do things and just be free.

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