Currently in Archives. Click here to return to the new CU-CitizenAccess.Org website at any time.

A Complicated Life: Dark days

As a high school dropout with no job skills, Yolanda moved in with her paternal grandmother, who is now deceased. She struggled to earn money.

Teen mothers are more likely to seek financial support from family or from public assistance and 75 percent of unmarried teen mothers go on welfare within five years of the birth of their first child, according to a March of Dimes study.

Yolanda took a different approach: She decided to sell cocaine and marijuana, which kept her away from home for several days at a time.

 “Sometimes it would be so late by the time I finished selling that I would just sleep at the house where I was dealing,” she said. 


Yolanda was careful not to become flashy with the money she made because she didn’t want to tip anyone off to the fact that she was a drug dealer.

“You never know who is watching you,” she said. “It could be the cops or just some jealous people from the neighborhood who want what you got.”

In 1996, Yolanda said, she was a passenger in a car that contained drugs. The car was pulled over by police and ultimately she was charged with possession of an illegal substance with the intent to distribute.After receiving probation, Yolanda decided to go legit.

She went to work for a company that sold an all-purpose domestic cleaner called Advantage.

The job allowed her to see other parts of the country and to see how other people lived.

She traveled to California, Utah, Nevada and other western states, she said.

“Sometimes when I’d be in these nice places I would wish that I had my kids with me so that they could see the things I was seeing,” she said.

In late May 1996, she was in Utah and requested to return home for her son’s birthday, on June 2, but she was unable to get back until June 14.

At the time she and Anthony were not communicating well and she did not have his current address, she said, and never saw her son.

Instead of returning to work with the roundtrip bus ticket bought by her employer, Yolanda decided to stay in the Evanston area to be near her children,she said.

By Will Atwater/For CU-Citizen Access

¨ Copyright 2011 CU-CitizenAccess.