Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1992

Hanging out with my buddies
I spent most of my time hanging out with Robert, one of my co-workers from Ohlone Childcare. We were interested in the same types of things. He was a naturalist and did research in Death Valley. He was intelligent and very witty. We would often go hiking in various places throughtout the East Bay. We often chose to go at night when much of the wildlife would be around. Our night-hikes were the most exciting and sometimes a wildcat canyon trails little scarey. We were only armed with maglights and pepper spray. I used to carry my BB airpistol too. Most of the regional parks started enforcing their curfews and so, it became more difficult to find good places to do night time hiking. We saw racoons, skunks, coyotes, and deer. Later we invited another co-worker Nick to go with us on our hikes. Soon, it became one of our favorite pastimes after work. One night, we did a hike in the East Bay hills near Wildcat Canyon. We had spent a couple hours in the hills and were walking back toward the exit. As we walked, we tried very hard to be quiet so as to not disturb a nearby house and their dogs. We whispered softly and walked steadily trying hard not to step on anything that would make a sound, like dry grass. Suddenly we heard barking from behind us. Robert said, " oh Sh---!" We didn't wait or look back. All of us jumped into a sprint. The barking grew louder and louder. It started to sound like it was moving toward us. Then, it sounded like it was coming from multiple sources. Instead of continuing down the path, our panic caused us to hook an immediate right turn into a nearby field of very tall grass and weeds. We were doing a full, frantic run through the grass. The noise from our running through the grass just agitated the dogs more. I was so scared while running that I just ran as the tops of the grasses were getting in my mouth. The barking dogs sounded like they were right behind us. We made it safely to our cars and barking was suddenly distant. It turned out that we were never in any danger from the dogs. They were behind a fence the entire time we ran! We saw this when we went back the next day but during daytime.

Nick and I started hanging out with Dee who also worked at the childcare. All of us went out often and usually ended the evening with a short hike or walk. All of us became close and spent many evenings hanging out at each other's homes. Then Dee's friend Melanie joined our trio. More parties ensued.

Nick and I became buddies and were into law enforcement. Both us applied to a new security company that was hiring for new officers. We did our training and bought our uniforms. We worked raves and did traffic management in Pinole. Nick and I both applied for several police departments. While I always passed the physical agility and written tests, I usually bombed the interview board. Nick had better success. He LA Tech shoeseventually went into the police academy and later served as an officer for Sacramento PD.

This year, LA Tech sneakers were popular because they had came with these red LED lights in the heel of the shoe. I had a pair that had the green LEDs in the heel. I was proud to be sportin' a cool pair of these shoes with my acid-wash jeans!

Television & Movies
The Cosby Show was pulling in the ratings for NBC and our family made sure to catch this sitccosby show familyom every Thursday night. Bill Cosby was genius in this modern view of an affluent African

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American family in a suburb of New York. The show was funny and stayed on NBC for eight seasons. We watched Denise, Theo, Rudy, and Vanessa grow up. Then along came Olivia who was played by Raven Symone. The final episode took place and was a wonderful finale to an eight season run. I watched the last episode when Theo graduated from college. It was a good ending. Another major finale took place in the sitcom world. The Golden Girls show was ending their season too. My family and I also watched this show and never missed any of the episodes. In the final episode, Dorothy (Bea ArtGolden Girls final scenehur) has to say goodbye when she decides to marry Blanche's uncle Lucas (Leslie Nielsen). The scene ends sadly with Dorothy saying her last pitch of goodbyes and then walking out the door for the last time, leaving the Golden Girls embracing each other.

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And finally, as for late night TV, the final show of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show was being aired. I sat up late watching many of his shows and enjoyed his sense of humor.

While I worked at summer camp, we took our young summer camp students to see the movie Lion King. The animated Disney show was a hit for the summer camp group. But when the movie Jurassic Park hit jurassic park the screens, my buddy Robert and I saw this at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. The line for this movie went around the block and it was the first time I had ever waited in such a line to see a movie. Inside the art deco theatre, there was a live organist playing the Wurlitzer organ down in the front of the theatre. If you ever go to watch a movie there on Fridays and Saturdays, you get treated to the organist. Mrs. Doubtfire was also another movie hit of the year.

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Final Move in Herculeshouse in hercules
And yes, we moved yet again to South Wildwood Street in Hercules. We lived in a townhome where you couldn't park your extra car in the complex's parking lot but you had to park it along the main street, off the complex property. You also were not able to park in front of your own address for an extended amount of time. Of course, this is what results from those annoying CC&R rules.

Hilltop Community Church
When I became an “adult”, I started making more and more decisions on my own. I left my family church to find my owhilltop church sanctuaryn church. I found several churches in the area but wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Later, I found a large church located near the mall in Richmond. The church was Hilltop Community Church. Pastor Stewart was the senior pastor at the time. The Sunday I attended that church, one of the special guests was a woman named Linda Mayfield who sang a song titled “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.” She was a dynamic singer. I ended up staying at this church for some eighteen years. Earlier in my stay, I spent most of my time sitting in the upper balcony of the church, listening to the message and then going home. I did this for several years at Hilltop. I decided to join the church’s special Christmas choir which performed in the annual Singing Christmas Tree. Many turning points would be reached as I stayed here at Hilltop.

My first job crisis
Working for the City of Hercules Children’s Program became the main highlight of my life during my post-high school days. I was having a ball working with the children. However, life can sometimes throw us a curveball when we least expect it. The City was preparing to lay off their temporary part-time employees because of a problem with staff working too many hours. I was working a lot of hours and was slated to be one of the first to be laid off. Several employees and I started meeting with parents to try and see what we could do to remedy the problem. All of the staff at the childcare was considered temporary, part-time staff even after having been working for the City for nearly ten years. We thought it wasn’t fair and so parents started helping us write letters to the City officials asking for them to reconsider and fix the problem. It was a political battle in the making. The City didn’t take to this well and started questioning individual staff about the matter.  I didn’t admit to knowing about the letter and was terminated from my position. I was devastated over the loss of my job. Several parents started questioning the termination and grew concerned over the manner in which the City was handling its childcare staff. Staff had no recourse as they had no medical benefits, sick leave, or permanent status. Soon, the matter was being discussed in private meetings with the City Manager and it eventually made it to the weekly city council meetings. Parents showed up at the meetings and spoke on my behalf including one parent who worked for a union. The City of course declined to make statements regarding personnel matters at a public forum - naturally. The discussion continued behind closed doors. Several months later, the City renewed my contract and offered me my job back. I accepted their offer.  Several years later, the City started offering childcare staff sick leave, medical benefits, and an opportunity to become unionized.

Racial tensions
This year, one televised event helped provoke racial tensions between the people and the police. It was a perfect example of how something on television can cause such a major upheaval in the culturrodney king riotse. It started by the television news obtaining video footage of several police officers beating a motorist who had just been stopped on a freeway in Los Angeles. The man was an African American named Rodney King. The video was serodney king riotsnt all across the country. It stirred emotions greatly. People were upset at the police and people were upset at how people were dogging the police. Public demonstrations started breaking out everywhere. Schools and colleges were the scenes of protests. The officers from LAPD were aquitted of their charges of beating Rodney King. And this caused even more of an outcry from certain communities. My family and I watcrodney king footagehed on CNN as the story of violence broke. People were starting fires in east Los Angeles. We saw people attacking other motorists as they drove through the neighborhoods. It was insanity occurring on live TV. Locally, many students from Contra Costa College and Pinole Valley High School took to the streets and began marching. A group of students in Berkeley marched onto Interstate 80 blocking the rush hour traffic and eventually making it onto the San Francisco Bay Bridge.   For the second time in history, the entire Bay Bridge was shut down. The only other time this had been done was after the 1989 earthquake damaged it.

The rumbling earth
Even while the Rodney King riots were still fresh in people’s minds, the Earth was seemingly reacting to all of the turmoil in the communities. A series of major earthquakes shook up Californians. Quakes occurred in Northern California and in Southern California. The first quake hit in the desert area of southern California near a place called Yucca Valley. It measured landers earthquake damage6.1. A week later, an even stronger quake hit just off the coast of Northern California near Ferndale and Petrolia. It was a 7.1 followed later that night by two more strong quakes. Two months later, a place out in the southern California area of Landers, California was rocked by a very strong quake. My mother and sister were staying in Los Angeles at the time this quake occurred. They were awakened at 4:58am by one of our relatives who sat up in bed saying, “ it’s an earthquake, it’s an earthquake…  IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE!” They hotel started moving and rolling as they all ran for the door. As they opened the door to look out, they saw all the other doors open with people sheepishly looking concerned and ready to abandon ship. The hotel continued to sway and rock. Everyone ran downstairs to the hotel lobby and waited until it calmed down. The quake was long. It was measured 7.4. There was only one fatality caused by this quake.

Employment doors opening
A year later, I took on a second job. I needed extra income, so I started doing stock and inventory for Macys at Hilltop Mall. I happened to be working during their preseason sale period. I also started working for a protective agency which was then called Golden Bay Protective Services. As a security guard, I worked at some very interesting sites like apartment complexes, Quinceaneras, and Raves. My last detail with this security firm was to work a Quinceanera that was being held at Pinole’s Senior Center. Thsecurity officere night started out very pleasant. Kids were coming up to me and asking about all of the gear on my belt and people were behaving very nicely. Things made a turn for the worse when one of the party goers apparently started drinking too much and wanted to go outside and start screaming and singing loudly. I asked a family member to take him inside and have him chill out before he gets into trouble. The family member was helpful enough to resolve the problem and the singer went back inside. Moments later, he was back outside and was becoming more belligerent to one of his family members. Seeing this, my security partner went to see what the commotion was. Then I saw him duck to avoid a blow from the intoxicated male. I ran to his aide and was preparing to put the male in handcuffs when family members began to jump in and assault both of us. Then I had to use my only viable weapon at the time, my baton, to protect my partner and me from the threatening group. I called for Pinole Police to aide us in placing the intoxicated male in custody. The police arrived and the party was shut down. I made a decision to leave this kind of work and not to do it ever again. I kept remembering how the children were crying and the family was calling us racist. It was an ugly scene which made me make the decision to not return to it.

Harmony arrives
My faHarmonymily’s life made a very dramatic change when my sister gave birth to a little girl named Harmony. We were now going to be spending many nights up in the middle of the night listening to wails of a hungry Harmony. This seemed like it would never end. My bedroom was right next door to my sister’s room which made for sleepless nights for me as well as for Alexis. Harmony crawled all around the house putting things into her mouth. I often found myself pulling pieces of stuff out of her mouth. She loved crawling everywhere.

 
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