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I am Ronald T May that is the name that my parents gave me. Embracing my cultural freedom to take on an identity that more defines me, I later adopted the name Jitwala, which means

self-determined and self-defined. 


My Book

Screaming Blackness, my first published book, is a compilation of my poetry over the decades. It reflects the evolution of my self-awareness and social consciousness surrounding Black life in America. My book is a labor of love. Hopefully, you can see yourself in some of the poems as you explore their insights. As you read and reflect, I hope that you will augment these insights with your own understanding. And if you are struggling through the complex landscape of growing up Black in America, I hope my book will help.


My Childhood

I was born and raised in the small rural town of Springfield, Ohio. Like most small towns, Springfield is racially divided. Black people lived primarily on the south side of Springfield and white people on the north side, except for four small streets on the north side of town where predominately black families lived. I grew up at the end of Roosevelt Drive, the only black family on that north side street. We all grew up as neighborhood kids playing together, usually getting along well, but from time to time, racism would eventually raise its ugly head.


I was a somewhat shy, pensive kid that spent a lot of time by myself. Since early in my life, I have enjoyed writing. I was very protective of my writings and rarely shared them because I did not want to be teased. I was a good athlete and any popularity I enjoyed came mostly from sports.


My Pain

My mother passed away when I was fourteen and a lot changed for me and not for the better. By sixteen, I had turned somewhat rebellious. I remember always feeling very lost. Just before I turned seventeen, I decided to leave home and go out on my own. I found that life, as I knew it at home, was not even close to how life is lived in the real world. The Stylistics wrote a song called Children of the Night and for a while, I lived it’s lyrics. The streets will teach you how to survive if you are strong enough to stand up to the pressures. I had people I could go to but was far too lost and confused to think very clearly or just ask. Fortunately, before my situation got too hairy my friend, Greg Harshaw, told me his mother said I could stay with them. She did not want to see me get into trouble. Thanks to her, I was able to graduate from high school. 


My Military Years

I applied to a few colleges but was told by each that I was not “college material” and that I should join the military. As a confused teenager with no other options, that is exactly what I did.

Those four years of service were not all too kind. I was too hurt inside to follow orders, advice, or direction. In spite of myself and with the Lord's patience, I did make it through the military and was honorably discharged. I owe a great deal of credit to Colonel Richard Hickenbottom, my Base Commander at Laughlin Air Force Base. He went out of his way to be a friend to a young soldier that just did not fit in. Because of the way he treated me, I was able to listen to his advice enough to complete my service obligation.


My College Years

After my military obligation was finished, by the grace of God, I received a basketball offer to play at Howard Junior College in Big Springs, Texas. I would play there and at two other

colleges, eventually finding my way to San Diego State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.


Going to college, I believe, saved my life. It was the perfect environment for me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I needed an environment where I could succeed, fail, and explore all of life’s realities that I struggled to understand, but desired to know. At first, I struggled academically because my high school education was deficient. I could not read fast enough or long enough to keep up with the required workload. I was advised to drop my classes and take five basic educational skills classes, none of which counted towards my degree. These necessary skills classes provided me with the foundation required to handle the workload of a college student. After acquiring this skillset, I no longer struggled to keep up with my courses and was free to explore life’s understanding. I enjoyed reading and learning so much I read another one hundred books in addition to the required study to complete my classes.


My Passion

I enjoyed informed debate about almost any topic. I found it frustrating, however, to engage in what I call circular arguments. These arguments had no ending, only cyclical insistence on one’s point without the desire to understand. I’ve always written poetry, so I decided to use poetic insight and creative expression to convey my ideas in a way that was open to scrutiny and interpretation but did not give rise to argumentation. I could still explore profound intellectual and philosophical concepts, but the surrounding conversations were much more relativized and expansive. I found this to be a much more constructive and far less frustrating way to communicate with the world. I genuinely believe that’s why Jesus talked in parables. Otherwise, His message may have been lost amongst overly narrow, contentious interpretations.


My Why

I am sharing this information about myself because I believe there are many young and old people out there who are much like me. Like me, their lives contain elements of confusion and obscured forward direction because they are students of misinformation that lend them to poor decision making.


Always know there are good people from all walks of life that will help you if they can trust you. Community stems from mutual love, investment, and understanding. My hope is that we will all continue to discover our intrinsic beauty and manifest our culture as Black Americans from there.


Ronald T May Aka Jitwala

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