“Who knows if me and Elvis are going to be together when he gets out? He has eight years left...”
Although Elvis, also known as Big Elks, was a supporting character in I’m Riding with You Forever by Jahquel J, his situation resonated with me the most because “nationally, 1 in 81 black adults in the US is serving time in state prison” (sentencingproject.org, 2022), so this situation isn’t foreign to our community. And although Elvis was trifling, having cheated on his wife, Kira, multiple times and having outside babies with other women, my heart went out to him because although he was a jackass, it was clear that being incarcerated magnified his stress, trauma, and possible mental health issues.
Now, in no way am I excusing Elvis’s behavior because I am a very loyal person, and I expect loyalty from my people in return. Elvis was anything but loyal, but let’s play devil’s advocate. Was Elvis all the way wrong for cheating if his wife failed to provide him with the support she promised him? Research has shown that social support is probably the most important thing one could provide a prisoner with. Without it, rates of suicidal ideation, depression, and feelings of hopelessness increase, yet it seems that once someone has gone to prison, spouses and significant others are quick to leave.
Before going to prison, Elvis was in the streets. We all know that that lifestyle comes with many traumatic events, including death, loss, incarceration, violence, and substance abuse. What’s disheartening is that inmates with a history of trauma, regardless of the type of trauma, were associated with less social support. So, although the risk for mental illness and loneliness is high, that needed support isn’t there. So, could it be that Elvis continued to cheat on his wife due to his humanistic need for support?
Don’t get it twisted, I’m not really on Elvis’s side completely; I totally understand that Kira had needs as well, and she got those needs met through Boog. I just don’t think she should’ve used him for his money, and I think she should have told him the truth—she wanted a divorce.
Too many of our men are locked away. Too many of our men are without the support of family and friends. If anyone you know is incarcerated, feel free to pass along this information. https://prisonbookprogram.org/for-people-in-prison/national-prisoner-resource-list/
This list provides places where those who are incarcerated (and their families) can find support and other resources.
What do y'all think, Heartbreakers? Would you be able to stay married to someone who's incarcerated? Why or why not?