Friday, August 30, 2013

Jake Furie Lapin:Fiery Passion: Almost Burned to Death

When I was 5 years old, my family moved out of Jersey City, to an adjacent blue-collar town, called Kearny.  At the time, most of the population was either Scottish, or Irish, or Irish/Italian, or just Italian. Then there was me: this darker-skinned, exotic breed.  As kids, my siblings and I didn't know or see any difference between our family and other families. In fact, I was always known as the smart, eccentric kid, and based on my surname, most parents assumed that my family heritage was English or something similar.  When I played with friends my own age, life was normal.  However, on the occasions when I was invited over to a friend’s home, the situation changed dramatically.  Racism was strong in Kearny, and the racist parents of my friends knew right away that I was different. I would often see their reactions immediately in the long, disapproving looks on their faces whenever I entered the home.  After they found out more about my different family background, the racism escalated to the point where I wasn't even allowed over.  It soon became clear that the entire town was divided along racial and economic lines.  On the poor side of town, which ran adjacent to Jersey City and Newark, I never had an issue with racism; I was always treated as family by my friends’ parents.  However, once we moved to a house on the better, more affluent side of the tracks, my experiences were far more hurtful, and lonely.

The racism I experienced in those years came to a head one day, when I was 11 or 12.  I was walking with one of my friends, one of the few who didn't mind associating with me.  We were both outcasts, excluded from the popular, rich circle of young teens in our school.  As we were walking, we were spotted by a group of the older, rich kids.  They started shouting insults at us, and then suddenly, they decided to chase us. It was obvious that their intention was to beat us up, just for being "different".

We ran for a while, but they were older, and faster. My friend got away, but they eventually caught me in a small wooded area behind a local bank that was used as a cut-through path.  This wasn't the first time this had happened, so I was prepared for my usual kicking and beating. I struggled and tried to escape, but this time was different.  They held on tight, and then decided to blindfold and tie me to a tree. After I was tied to the tree, the kids laid old branches and leaves around my feet. I could hardly believe what was happening, but it slowly dawned on me that they intended to burn me to death.   Using a lighter, they successfully created the fire in the wood and leaves around me, and at that moment, I truly felt that my life was about to be over.  As the flames rose and heated the air that was entering my lungs, the thugs finally ran away from the scene. I struggled as hard as I could and fortunately, their inexperience with rope tying enabled me to free myself.  I limped home and told my parents what had happened. They reported the incident to the police, but this proved to be fruitless. The police were just as racist as everyone else, and they simply wrote it off as childish bullying, without making any arrests.  The  bullies were never caught or punished, but after that I learned to stay out of their way and to be cautious and careful.

I drive by the tree every once in a while to remind myself how short life is, and how cruel humanity can be.

In my older life now, as I release the ties from my lover, I will always kiss the tear from her fiery eye, and embrace the passion she gives me when I hold her in my arms unbound.

Have you ever been rejected personally or at work because of your race, religion, color, etc?


AUTHOR NAME  Jake Furie Lapin -- My Blogs

Jake's Goodreads Blog Link



  1. When I started middle school in September, I had high hopes of being in the same classes as my friends and making new memories with them. My brother and I were 2 years apart so he was a freshman in high school and was popular amongst his peers and had a great experience in middle school. Little did I know that my experience with being in middle school would be a lot different from his. Mine was 2 years of sheer hell and I learned the hard way how cruel people can be. I had just gotten braces over the summer and I was very self-concious about it and because I was going through the what I call "ugly duckling" stage where no boys would even notice me. It wasn't until I turned 13 in January that my personal hell had begun and also when I stopped smiling altogether. I had just lost my dad to cancer in February when I caught the attention of my tormentor named David. He made it his personal vengence to torment me every chance he got whether it was on the bus, school grounds, or in the hallways. When he wasn't spitting at me or pushing me hard into the lockers, he was verbally abusing me to the point I would go home crying every day after school and wished I could die because it was too painful to bear. I used to throw myself into my studies in order to forget everything and just concentrate on school. Once word got around what my dad died from, David started a vicious rumor that said I was contagious with cancer. It was also part of his ammunition when he would tell me every day he hoped I would die from it. I guess I was only one in middle school who ever lost a parent to cancer. My friends were mad at me and stopped talking to me because I was too in shock to tell them my dad passed away and they had to find out through a classmate who heard about it through our local church. Even the neighborhood boys my brother and I used to hang around and play football with in our backyard stopped coming around. I never told my mom and brother about David bullying me because I was still reeling from my dad's loss. I shut down emotionally and I let things stay bottled up and kept to myself. In 8th grade, not only was David still continuing his torment but I gained another tormentor named Kevin. David was the ring leader of the two. The two of them teamed up on me the rest of the school year and then continued into high school. My brother was livid when he found out I was getting bullied and threatened to beat them both up. That only made David's torment worsen. Kevin eased up a and backed off. It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I found out why David bullied me through his sister. Apparently it was because he came from a broken home and his dad was a major drug addict and dealer. David tormenting me was his way of making himself feel better about himself and about his home life situation. I came from a loving home with two loving parents and because I didn't come from a broken home like he did, my home life was considered perfect to him. I'll never see that as justification for what he did to me. In my adult life, I bumped into Kevin and he actually gave me heart felt apology for what he did and since he wasn't nearly as bad as David I forgave him. I'll never forgive David for as long as I live. I'll go as far to say that I hope karma gives him a taste of his own medicine. To this day,the emotional abuse I endured from him has scarred me emotionally. I still feel like that awkward ugly duckling and I don't feel beautiful or confident. It's something I have to work on everyday to ease the emotional pain I still feel from back then.

  2. Once I of my clients noticed my name tag w/Spanish last name & since I do not look Spanish he asked me about it. I told him my husband was from Peru and he asked if he floated here (Florida) on a raft. My face must have told him the fury I felt because he tried his damnedest to back pedal that comment. I have never been the victim of someone's racist comments before & this shocked me so badly. I have children that are interracial are they going to be subject to racism?

    1. I have experienced that many times being a mixed race myself. Your children will grow stronger, just teach them that people who talk like that are shallow. I still experience that today, people see and expect certain "look" when they hear me or email me, based on my surname, then when they see me, they look bewildered. I conquered that feeling at laugh it off.

  3. I am appalled this happened. We are all human being ....we all cry salty tears and bleed the same color blood. The world is so full of hate why make it worse. Unfortunately the world we live in cruel. People need to learn kindness and except others

  4. Bullying at its worse! I am anti bullying as I've experienced this myself. Since I was a petite kid, other kids thought I was an easy target. They were wrong. I was raised by an outspoken mother and tough father. My father used to box and he taught me how to fight physically. He didn't promote violence but told me to always defend myself. Kids who didn't know me soon learned I couldn't be picked on. I remember one girl who was a bully in the 8th grade who wrote in my yearbook when we graduated & said "to the only girl who stood up to me...
    Since then I've always defended the outcasts, the ones who didn't fit.

  5. Hate the fact that this has happened to you what I hate more is that this still goes on today. Hate is something I believe that is taught in a home not what comes naturally to a child. To think that someone has it in them to try and torture someone or think of burning them is beyond me. So glad you made it through all this and turned something so negative into a positive. Hope others lead by your example.

  6. Having been in an interracial marriage and experienced racism, I had to learn to not take ignorance personally. I also learned to carefully watch for a potentially open mind and an opportunity to educate. Allowing ignorance to pass uncontested perpetuates the problem. This blog post is an important reminder to live each day fully and robustly. Thank you Jake for sharing.

  7. I was the victim of bullying not once, but twice. The first time was in the 8th grade & the second time was in the 10th grade. I never knew that the girls I spoke to in Spanish class could be so mean & hurtful until they signed my yearbook. After I got my yearbook back from them & saw what they wrote, I couldn't believe that they could write such mean things in my yearbook. I still have the yearbook with all the comments in it.
    In 10th grade, there was a 9th grade kid who made fun of because of my taste in music. He went as far as going through my backpack, taking out my school agenda/planner & writing all over it. I reported it to the school & nothing was done about it. All they did was give me a new agenda/planner. From that point on, I stopped wearing band t-shirts to school to prevent any further bullying.

  8. Still as an adult I am bullied all the time. Lucky for me it has never become violent like Jake had to go through but it hurts just the same. People look at me like I am crazy because I have an eccentric style. I push the limits as to what is considered normal. As an artist I look for creative ways to let my art show and my appearance is one of my besy out lets. I am judge based only on how I look and believe me they are always wrong. I really wished people in this day and age would stop being so ignorant and become more open minded and accepting of the differences each of us has that makes us the amazing people we are. I am glad Jake wrote this. Every one needs to see the hate that still exsist today.

  9. No never! I am appalled this happened :( Hate the fact that this has happened to you. Jesus!! You were very brave to share this. You are a man many limpid. Today, be oneself is a luxury. xoxoxo

  10. I grew up with racism. I was born and raised in Detroit. From birth till 7yrs old, my neighborhood was 100% Jewish. We were Catholic. If anything went wrong on the block, we were blamed. The neighborhood quickly turned to 100% black. I was treated like shit because I was white. I was bullied because I was white. This didn't stop until I went to college. I grew up wanting to be black so I wouldn't be bullied. It was a hard life.

  11. I was bullied at school but it was not for any reason other than I was bight and I completed my homework and was in the top class. Although now living in Scotland for the past 24 years and marrying a Scot I am English. I was bought up in a multicultural society and because of this I am not and never will be a racist. We ran in and out of each others houses. When I moved to my husbands town I began to notice simply because that there were not many (for the want of a better word and I hate it) coloured people, there was a lot more racism though not outwardly and I am lucky that the people I mixed with when I moved eg in laws and new friends were not of this nature. What Jake experienced as purely criminal and he was very lucky I hope he will put this behind him

  12. Having moved during childhood . . .The sensation of not fitting in and desperately wanting to. Also being convinced everyone else lived a perfect family life except for me colored my view of life for too long.

    What you experienced at that age must have been so horrifying and traumatic. . .and to have the authorities not help you feel safe . . .unimaginable.

    To be able to verbalize and process these issues is to be able to be free and present in the now...

  13. I'm sorry this has happened to you and i can get real angry AT bullying of any kind if it because of race, religion, ... Or just in school.
    That happend to me and a friend just bullying for no reason I had a very tough time in school but one of THE Bullies is actually a very good friend now and he knows he was wrong, but in my days it wasn't as bad as it is now driving Co-studentes to suïcide.
    I Will never judge Anyone on their apearance if it is just friendship, AT work or even a lover iTS personality That counts I won't even be Nicer to people who have more money than others everyone is equal in my eyes .
    You're experience must have been very horrible, I can only imagine
    In such cases people need to be able to talk About it not hold it in or it only Gets worse

  14. Thank you for sharing such a horrific event. For some reason I didn't read the title, I delved right into the blog. So to read these events go from being horrible to horrific was devastating to read. Just the image that you painted has me shuddering. I'm sorry you had to experience such a vile thing. You are very strong to go back to the place that held such terrible memories and turn it into something to learn from.

    I have a story that starts a little similar to yours. When I was 12, two friends and I (all girls) were walking. We wanted to try out for the school's softball team, so we were decked out in our sweats on our way to a baseball diamond to practice. A carload of high-school students, not from our area, started shouting at us, calling us trash based on our clothes we picked out to get dirty in. Every driveway we passed on our way down the street, they kept trying to run us over. I mean seriously. I never experienced something like that in my life. My friends cried but I saw red and realized I had a bat in my hand. I started yelling back and swinging at their car. I'm not sure why they turned into cowards then and left but they did.

    I'm not racially mixed. Actually, I'm incredibly mixed, just of the pale variety but I have still experienced racism though not a lot. When I was 16, my first job was a hostess at a restaurant. My manager was a different race (no need to say which one) and he constantly harassed me as I was the only little white girl on the shift and I was really subservient. So that made me an easy target. Anything and everything I did he would scuff and demean me. Things that weren't even mistakes, he would turn it into one. I would come home crying every day after work. I didn't realize I could do anything to fix the situation since this was my very first job in the real world and I didn't have anything else to compare it to. Luckily, others got upset on my behalf and I had to have talks with him and human resources and all that. Suffice to say, I never had to work with him again but that was after months of harassment.

  15. Wow.. Reading this, thinking this couldn't be true. How can kids be so mean, I also think racism, and bullying is taught at home. When I was in 6th grade, first year of middle school, scared to death. I was bullied by a few girls for all of my lunch money everyday. No where near as traumatic as your experience, but still leaves a never forgotten scar.