On Oct. 3, 2020, I held an event entitled Peace Talks on the steps of the City Hall.

We wanted to encourage everyone there to register to vote and let their voices be heard!

I want to state again that the name of our event was Peace Talks, and anti-protesters still decided to show up, holding their sacred Trump flags, the American flag that they are trying to turn into a racist symbol and guns. This is clear indication to me that it is not about coming to some type of common ground; their only goal is to antagonize and intimidate the people of Rio Rancho.

However, we will not be going anywhere.

During this event, I shared personal parts of my life to encourage people to go on and move forward in the face of adversity. I want us to continue to hope, because hope leads to goals, and I know we will get there.

I was abused all my life. I was beaten with aluminum baseball bats, golf clubs, burned with cigarettes, stabbed, hot sauce was poured in my eyes.

I wasn’t allowed to sleep in a bed. I wasn’t allowed to bathe or brush my teeth, and often wore the same clothes to school.

When my mother heard me praying about wanting to go to college, I was beaten. I was sent through six different foster homes.

My mother befriended my case worker, and she got me back home and continued to beat me. I started working at a fast-food restaurant.

One day I was brave enough to ask the owner if he would split my checks for me, and he said he would. I had to do this because my mother would take my entire paycheck and she would actually beat me if she felt like it wasn’t enough.

I left and joined the Air Force with only the clothes I had on. I was 20 years old at the time.

I remember when I went to the office to get checked, I was 5 feet, 8 inches, and weighed 116 pounds. The recruiter loudly said, “Damn.”

I knew this was what I needed to do to start a new life for myself. Once I joined, I went back and helped my sisters leave the abusive house I had run away from.

The last time my mom beat me, I was 27 years old.

I am doing good now. My sisters are doing good.

My brothers, they have some demons they fight, but they are doing good as well. I went through all of that, and I will still dare to hope for a better future for my son and all generations after him.

I will not stop until sustained effective change is achieved. I was told we do not have those kinds of problems here.

This, however, is only from the perspective of those who do not look like me. It is hard to understand how different life is for a Black person living in the suburbs.

Barbara A. Jordan

Rio Rancho