For years, Detroiters have seen our children gunned down in the streets or killed for senseless reasons. Through death after death, we have watched crying families on television being interviewed by news anchors pleading with the public to help pay for funeral costs. Many families are not able to have a funeral immediately and have to scrape up money to help with the expenses. We are in danger of becoming numb to the rampant deaths plaguing our city. It was not the drive-by shootings or other gang-related killings, or the deaths related to breaking and entering, that caused me to realize that parents need to legally protect their children by purchasing life insurance policies.
It was Nicole Turner’s story of her 11-year-old son suddenly dying while playing video games that propelled me to write this article. I strongly relate to Nicole, a single mother who works a factory job to support her two sons. Like Nicole, I am a single mother. I was a young, uneducated, poor, at-risk, disadvantaged, and underrepresented teenage mother, as I had my daughter at the age of 13 while in eighth grade at Joy Middle School. After a time, I realized that growing up in the city of Detroit unequivocally shapes the life of each person in one of two ways. A person born and raised in Detroit will either succumb to poverty, unemployment, crime, or teenage pregnancy, or rise above the aforementioned obstacles and defy the odds to increase their upward mobility.
After giving birth to my daughter, I decided that I did not want to become the stereotypical young Black girl who depends on government assistance in order to sustain her family. I changed the way I viewed the world and realized that it’s not the situations that we are placed in that ultimately affect our lives, it is our reaction to our current situation that shapes our outcome. After having my daughter, I could have given up, dropped out of school, and continued to have more children. However, I remained persistent in following my dreams, stayed in school, and made conscientious decisions about the consequences of being intimate at an early age. Now, at 29 years old, I am a licensed attorney in the State of Michigan.
I feel it is my duty to share the knowledge, wisdom, and awareness I have obtained in the last 16 years since I’ve given birth. I know life insurance won’t shield people from stray bullets like the ones that killed baby Delric Miller and Aiyana Jones as they slept in their homes. But what a policy will do is remove the unnecessary stress of the inability to pay for a funeral. As the mother of a teenage daughter, it is hard for me to fathom the compound of grief due to the loss of my child and the guilt any parent would feel as a result of the financial inability to pay for a proper burial.
The situation is worse for parents who are the sole providers. For 59 cents a month, I have insured my daughter with a $5,000 life insurance policy that I will redeem in the event that I am faced with the unbearable task of having to bury my daughter. Discussing death is hard, but we have to wake up, and protect our children while they are alive. Death is many times sudden and untimely. I want Detroiters to know that for approximately 2 cents a day, we all can be financially prepared for the unspeakable.