Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins

historian | sociologist | social epidemiologist

Vice-Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania

The Day I Stopped Eating Burger King

The Day I Stopped Eating Burger King


I told her that my teacher was “picking on me” and she needed to handle it! Maxine Rush Jenkins set up a parent/teacher conference with ALL my teachers. I smiled. You see, every day, my mother took me to school and bought breakfast from Burger King. We talked and jammed to “Whoomp There It Is” and Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover.” The morning before the parent/teacher conference she dropped a bomb on me! My mom said, “I don’t do parent/teacher meetings without you. I want to hear from you and them at the same time!” I died a little bit that morning when she dropped me off.

I was REALLY nice in Mrs. Clark’s class. My mother and Mrs. Clark (the Black teacher) were friends and ass whooping allies. Kever Clark didn’t play. I was hoping to gain a friend by the time I saw her after school the next day. I went to Mr. Sylvester’s class. I had a habit of not taking my book bag off and sitting at the desk with my arms folded in protest. He never said a mumbling word about this behavior. I figured he’d be, at the least, neutral in tomorrow’s ass whooping hearing.

Then came Mrs. Brown! I didn’t like her because she was a new 23 year old teacher that was obviously scared of Black kids. We terrorized this lady. Prank calls (before caller ID) and Trey stole her grade while I was in detention (I know snitches get stitches). She wouldn’t support my angelic image but who could refute two against one?

The day came and I seriously didn’t eat lunch on “Pizza Boat” day!!! We even had vanilla pudding pops (Damn Bill)!!!! My stomach was in knots. The final bell rang and I waited on Maxine out front. Then I got scared and went in Mrs. Clark’s class to “help” her set up before the meeting. She had laryngitis so she couldn’t talk above a whisper. Maxine walked in with an outfit that made her look so heavenly with rings on every finger. She put on her “White people” voice to say “hell'er.”

So it begins. My mom started things off by asking Mrs. Clark, “How is he in your class?” Mrs. Clark, clearly sick, without bass and all treble mumbles, “Oh, I have no problems!” I look at Mr. Slyvestor and his eyebrow jumps to the top of his head! He said, “Well, Mrs. Jenkins. Kevin sits in my class with his book bag on and arms folded and simply doesn’t participate at all.” Of course I have the book bag on. Maxine says, “take that damn bag OFF!” I should’ve known then that I be a Kappa because I shimmed out of that bag so fast. Mom says, “Any other problems?” He said, “No ma'am!”

So, I spilt the ally vote but I had hope Ms. Brown would be vague and merciful. She was SO afraid of my mom that she wouldn’t look her in the eyes as she mumbled through her “recollection” of my adolescent misdeeds. She said I was disruptive, blah, blah, blah but then it happened. Mrs. Brown looked at me and then my mother and said, “Mrs. Jenkins, your son flipped me off,” she continues as I’m praying she’d SHUT the hell up, “and he called me a bi$%#!”

***Um, check please! Um, pineapples! Um, time of death…NOW!***

Maxine lost her entire mind! She said and I quote, “I teach people’s kids every day, and I can’t get my own to act right! I’m gonna kill you when we get home!” She glared at me me and all I could hear is Mrs. Clark’s laughter strained into a wheeze due to her sickness. I was about to die after only 11 years on Earth.

We stopped by the hospital because my godmother was dying of cancer. Literally a week to live. My mom came down to the car because my “groundation” started then and I had to stay in the “damn” car. She was sad. She had been crying because Mae (my godmother) was on the way to Glory. My mom told me that as upset as she was in that moment, that she wouldn’t beat me. She said just know that I hurt her.

I love my mom because our car rides and impromptu meals and conversations were compromised because I hurt her. My father was cheating and battling drug and alcohol addiction. She dropped me off every day knowing that at least one thing in her world was alright and that parent/teacher conference shook that confidence. I thank God for the reprieve that day but I thank Him even more for my mother! I try to remember that how I treat people reflects on those who love me the most. Every smile or hug or kind word is simply a consequence of my mother’s love.

Oh, and report cards came out the next week and the ass whoopin moratorium ended! I’ve been riding the bus and eating school breakfast every since.

#mother #love #children #God


Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins | 2019