I remember watching for the first time Alice Walker’s film adaption from her book, The Color Purple. I was stunned by the audacious portrayal of incest and pedophilia on screen, as was the NAACP and other prominent civil rights organizations who bitterly criticized Walker’s book for openly breaching the taboo of airing black folk’s laundry in public. There were loud calls to boycott the Color Purple, even though incest and pedophilia was common on plantations as portrayed in the film. Incest was a systemic element of the institution of slavery in the antebellum South,
Pedophilia is an unnatural or abnormal attraction towards children of either or both sexes, usually aged thirteen years or younger. A pedophile's attraction towards adults varies. They fantasize and/or act on their fantasies with children who have not reached puberty.
I was not prepared for my sister’s startling revelation. I was shopping in a supermarket when she called me. She got right to the point, sharing with me that she had been sexually assaulted by our father. I nearly dropped my phone. She told me that she was fourteen years old. She burst into tears as she explained to me, sobbing, that she was confused by him rubbing his hands caressing her body. She had to, she emotionally spoke to me, to tell someone about her molestation. But why me? What was her intent?
I needed confirmation. My cousin provided that confirmation. She lived with him for a brief period after her mother died. She told me that she witnessed him fondling young girls on his knee. She also revealed to me that she knew of relationships with women where he was molesting the daughters of women he dated. She ended our conversation by telling me that when he died in 1975 at forty-five years old, she literally spat on his grave.
Memories of the dead are supposed to be sacred and cherished. My sister ruined those moments for me. Fond memories help the grieving process. Reminiscing about the past, the good times, often takes the sting out of someone transitioning. Ideally, remembering someone should bring about smiles and laughter, which I did before my sister delivered a blow that shattered the warm recollections of my father. Dumping her burden on me was cruel, uncaring, and even malicious in that she imposed her feelings on the memories I enjoyed about my father.
Wilbert Alexander was an extraordinarily good-looking man with an infectious personality Women literally flicked to him. I greatly admired him. He worked for the city of Philadelphia as a street supervisor. But he was also a smart businessman, owing a variety store and apartment buildings. He was immensely popular in the neighborhood. I sought to emulate him, to become the man he was and to fashion myself as a magnate to attract women.
Good looks comes with a burden, particularly for men. When everything comes so easily in life for the average handsome man, women especially, men tend not to mature in ways that he knows how to genuinely love, protect and care unconditionally for a woman. I believe that some of women my father pursued or the women that pursued him, desired his sexuality.
My father’s predilection or penchant for young girls requires additional explanations.
Having a sexual relationship with a daughter is perhaps the most psychotic act a man can commit. This type of aberration is rooted in psychosis. Psychosis is characterized by an impaired relationship with reality. It is a symptom of a serious mental disorder. The attraction to young girls is an uncontrollable impulse that pedophiles cannot manage or surmount. My father undoubtably targeted my sister for her virginity, innocence, and purity. The fact that incest is a taboo only heightened his lust, temptation and need to molest her.
I take some comfort in knowing that, although I greatly admired him, he was not, in fact, my biological father. Thank God that I do not have his DNA. He married my mother when I was one year old. The marriage ended in about a year, yet he remained committed to me as a father, and did his fatherly best to prepare me to go through life embracing his values, characteristics, and success. I was embraced, loved, and accepted by his family as his child who needed a father figure as an example of how I should live my life. He never tolerated my mother’s second husband disciplining me, insisting that if I needed to be reprimanded, he would do it. He died an early death at forty-five years old. Loving and admiring this man as I did make it extremely difficult and painful to accept that my father had sexually abused my sister.
I could not fathom the horror being the child of a pedophile. Ironically, it was me, not my sister, who sought therapy.to deal with the vicious acts of my father. Therapy helped. During those painful sessions, I learned to separate my feeling from my sister’s dreadful encounters with my father. I accepted that he was a good man with a dark side. I no longer needed to rationalize his sick behaviors. I thank God that he is not around to prey upon my eight-year granddaughter. Surely, this man went to hell for his devilish acts. God holds him accountable for his despicable actions.