It was a long, hard, road to travel but Jamaican author and Professor Dr. Karlene Richardson was able to make it out “From Gutter to Glory” as she reveals her struggles and successes in her autobiography by the same name.
“From Gutter to Glory” details my experience transitioning from living with my grand parents to wanting to live with my mother,” said Richardson.
“I was raised by my grand parents since I was eight months old. And so as I grew up and saw my friends with their mothers, I started identifying with that desire to wanting to live with my mother,” explains the author.
The book takes readers from Richardson wanting to live with her mother by finding a solution for that by going to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica in 1986 at age 15 and obtaining a visa on her own. She said she had no problems obtaining the visa and was offered help to complete the application form by other Jamaicans who were waiting to submit their applications. Her first trip to the U.S was in 1983 on a one-month visa to visit her uncle and his wife and that experience was great.
A month after returning from her first trip, Richardson’s mother migrated to the U.S. and three years later, Richardson came to live with her mother and that was when her challenges began. Richardson said she came to the U.S. anticipating to live with her mother but by then she started a new family and had a baby. “It was not meant for me to come as a baby sitter. Now as a mother I can see why she was glad to have me to be a baby sitter. We all know how it is in America when you need a baby sitter and you have to work,” recalls Richardson.
Richardson said she lived in a small one-bedroom apartment with her mother had had to sleep on the sofa bed in the open room because her mother needed her privacy.
“Sometimes she would allow me to go outside and stay out until 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 midnight. She would introduce me to her friends’ daughters, one of whom set me up and I was raped at age 16,” said Richardson. The matter was not reported to the police because neither she or her mother had a green card and so bringing it to the attention of the police was the last thing they wanted to do.
“When my daughter was five years old, the rapist was shot nine times at the corner of Clarkson and Flatbush avenues and he is now a paraplegic,” said Richardson. Life became difficult for her and at times were unable to feed herself and her daughter Taisha Owens and had to resort to begging for quarters on Nostrand Avenue and in Bedford Stuyvesant. She realised that she could not continue living this way and decided to make a turn around in her life.
Richardson said she was encouraged to write that book after she confided in a lecturer at Nassau Community College in 2000. She was told that the best healing was to write. Her 325-page book is self-published and in May became available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, approved by Apple for the I Book and on her website, www.drkarlenerichardson.com.
She will have book signings at the Hampton Inn, JFK on July 26 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and at the Sisters Uptown Bookstore at 1942 Amsterdam Ave. on Saturday, Aug. 30 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Richardson who began teaching health administration and health information courses at ASA, has published several other books including “Chocolate Flavored” – a collection of poems and short stories, “Beyond the Veil towards the Mercy Seat” and most recently “The Insurance Dilema – US Health System.” She is working on her latest book “My Own Strength Was Not Built To Break,” which will be published next summer.