Why I Chose this Book
I had never heard of Ms. Pat before, but one day as I was scrolling through the radio show The Breakfast Club’s interviews, I saw an interview of comedian Ms. Pat, aka Patricia Williams. The Breakfast Club interviews are typically pretty entertaining, so even if I didn’t know who the interviewee was, I would still usually listen. This time, I would not be disappointed. This interview had me dying laughing, but also intrigued by the interviewee’s personal story. Coincidentally, the other equivalent interview from The Breakfast Club is one of fellow comedian Tiffany Haddish. During the interview, Ms. Pat mentioned that she had written a book. I searched for her book on overdrive.com the next day and was pleased to see that this title was offered. I placed a hold on it and within the next week or so, I was able to download it.
Ms. Pat has a very interesting life story. To start, when she was a kid, her mom was poor and the two lived at her granddad’s house in Atlanta. Granddad’s house was full of trouble to get into. He used to sell bootleg liquor out of the house and people would come and go all the time. Ms. Pat’s mom, taking advantage of the situation and looking to get some extra change, would tell young Patricia to steal money from the drunkards passed out on the floor.
Another crazy situation Ms. Pat found herself in was helping her paraplegic uncle have sex with a woman who sometimes couldn’t afford to pay for liquor. I forget the details, but I think she said that she would help him get in the bedroom or take his pants off or put him on top of her, something wild like that. Even though there was a lot of chaos and this probably wasn’t the best environment to raise a child in, it was still the most stable time in Ms. Pat’s life.
The good times eventually came to a halt. Once, a woman, not sure if it was the same woman that slept with the uncle or not, came to the house to buy some liquor, but the grandpa told her he was out. The woman became irate and called him a particular gay slur. That’s when the situation turned ugly. According to Ms. Pat, you don’t call an old southern black man a (bundle of sticks). So, pops got his gun and shot the woman. He knew the police were going to come after that, so he had to get rid of all his illegal product. Of course, the police came, arrested him, and that was the beginning of a more unstable life for Ms. Pat and her family.
Looking for help, Patricia’s mom found some relief in the form of another man, but at the detriment of her children. I don’t recall what was said about Ms. Pat’s biological father, but I don’t think he was around. At one point, Ms. Pat’s mom was dating a guy who might have been married or involved with another woman, but he would come and help out with groceries and other necessities. He wasn’t only interested in the mom, though, but the young girls as well. I think they were maybe around 10 years old at the time. The generous man, I’ll call him Chester, used to give the girls candy and buy them gifts. One day, Chester took the girls to a cemetery, had them perform sexual acts on him, and told them not to tell their mom. It seems like no one did tell the mom, but Ms. Pat felt that she had to know and she just turned a blind eye to it because Chester was helping them out.
The Autobiography of Ms. Pat
That was not Ms. Pat’s last unfortunate encounter with an older man. Hanging out at a skating rink or a teen party at the age of around 12 or 13, she met a man, maybe in his 20s. The two started “dating” and she became pregnant. Turns out, the father to her child was a drug dealer, I believe. On top of that, he also had another woman he was seeing, either a wife or a girlfriend, which young Patricia eventually found out about. If I remember correctly, the boyfriend showed up to the hospital with the other girlfriend, which made Ms. Pat feel disrespected.
She had her second child with the same man maybe a year or two later, though and at this time, she’s barely in high school. So now she has these two kids and is struggling to make ends meet. And if I remember correctly, she had this idea to make some extra money. She talked to her boyfriend’s cousin I think and had him help her start selling drugs.
There’s a lot more to Miss Pat’s story, but I’d like to make a point that Ms. Pat has stated; her story is not necessarily every girl’s story that comes from the hood. Not all girls from the hood grew up with a life filled with trauma. Some make it out okay. Eventually, Ms. Pat makes it out too, though not unscathed. Ms. Pat’s story shouldn’t be used as an example of what life is like growing up in that type of environment, though it does display how it might be easier for people born in those circumstances to end up going down an unsavory life path.
We, as a society, have placed too much onus on individuals for their decisions and have not paid enough attention to the conditions that allowed such behavior.
Miss Pat was a hustler. She didn’t have much of a childhood or much formal education, but she seemed to make the best of her situation. She has done things that society wouldn’t necessarily agree with, but by reading her story, you get a fuller sense of what may lead someone to a lifestyle of illegal activity. I think it comes through in her book, though, that through it all, she had and has a good heart. It’s a great read and I would definitely recommend it.
I originally read this book two years prior to me publishing this post and since then, her fame has only grown, culminating in the release of a sitcom based on her life. Though the film industry loves to promote a Black struggle story, I have to give it to Ms. Pat, she is as funny as the best of them and deserves all the success that she gets.