Interview with Nisha Young

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Table of Contents 
  •  GABRIEL SOLIS: Ok, Nisha, so you said you're Melanie's cousin, so you're Vincent's cousin.  
  •  NISHA YOUNG: First, yeah.  
  •  SOLIS: First cousin. Are you older or younger than Vincent?  
  •  YOUNG: I'm younger.  
  •  SOLIS: Ok.  
  •  YOUNG: Like a three-year difference.  
  •  SOLIS: Ok. Tell me a little bit—did y'all grow up together here? 
  •   YOUNG: Mmhmm. We grew up here—  
  •  SOLIS: Tell me a little bit about what Vincent was like when y'all were growing up together. 
  •   YOUNG: Like—like your junior daddy. He was like my junior daddy. You know, we always used to say he was the muscle and the protector of the family and I was the brains of the family. So, that's how we kinda operated and he said, "When I start my business, you gonna be my secretary, so make sure you ready. You know, when I get my business and stuff going." But, man, you just didn't have to worry. Having him around we really didn't have too much worries. We struggled coming up in poverty together, but we had each other, you know, so we made it work.  
  •  YOUNG: And we went—if I needed him, I called him. Seven months prior to his death I lost my husband. So he was there. You know, so it's like, "Now this?" It's a big blow for me, you know. And then we had a joke where, he said, "You're my favorite cousin." But soon as he made me mad, I'd go, "You're not my favorite cousin no more. Not gonna be my favorite cousin." So he'd go give me whatever I wanted. Whatever the problem was, he would go, "So, I'm gonna give you this hundred dollars, so you gonna be my favorite cousin again?" I'm like, "Yes, I'm gonna be your favorite cousin again." So, you know—  
  •  SOLIS: Sounds like a bribe.  
  •  YOUNG: It worked, it worked. Yeah, it worked. You know, he had a big heart. He was family first. And just to speak to the man that he was when he passed, like we said, we didn't have too much loss in our family so we weren't expecting it. It was all of a sudden. And we struggled just paying average bills, so no room for life insurance or nothing like that. So, one day, the whole community paid for his whole funeral.  
  •  SOLIS: Really?  
  •  YOUNG: One day. Everybody came out, we had barbecues and shirts going and people coming up donating, don't want no change back, just, thank you. We tend to all fall victim, it's our area, what we dealt with, just trying to survive. So, of course we had a couple run-ins with the law and whatever, but it don't speak to the person that he was, you know. Just trying to make it, everybody trying to make it. But, it's just like my cousin said, it's a hole that can't be filled in this family. Because even though we're like the younger generation compared to our mothers and fathers and our grandmother, but we was the ones that hold this together. Me, Melanie and Vincent. So, it's different, so you gotta try to figure out how to cope.  
  •  SOLIS: I'm sorry to hear about your husband.  
  •  YOUNG: That's ok. It's ok.  
  •  SOLIS: I imagine Vincent was there for you when you were dealing with that loss.  
  •  YOUNG: Yes. We had two funerals with that day—a friend of ours—and he made both of them.  
  •  SOLIS: Wow.  
  •  YOUNG: One was in the country, and then my husband was here, but he made both of them. He was always there.  
  •  SOLIS: Tell me a little bit about, you know, in talking with Melanie we talked about Vincent as a good brother, you know. Tell me about what he was like as a father, as a son, as a cousin.  
  •  YOUNG: Dependable. To so many of our people, regardless of what time of day it was, what time—whatever it was, I just kind of got that call, "Ok, you my secretary, Nisha [inaudible], she need this, she need that. Where can I go get this?" You know, he was the type to make it happen and I just put it into motion, you know. Whatever his kids needed, he went and got it. He said, "Well, I got a new baby. You ready to meet your other little cousin?" I said, "Woo! Vincent!" He said, "I gotta get me a boy." You know, so he kept going, he got all girls, and like Melanie said, one of his prior relations, one of his female friends had a little boy. Not biologically his, but he carried our last name, it's his son. And to this day, the family still take care to see him and help out, because that's what his daddy was doing when he was here. We were just all trying to make it, you know. And he would see bigger than where we was at in life. He would do the group homes, he would do—because he felt like we're just stuck in this present time right now but we can do better if we think this way. And he was real creative, even growing up he would build—when [inaudible] came around, he would build us rollercoaster rides and tree houses and, you know, so he always just made it fun. His presence was well-known, well-known.  
  •  SOLIS: And, you said you grew up here in this neighborhood, too.  
  •  YOUNG: Mm-hmm.  
  •  SOLIS: And you're three years younger than Vincent?  
  •  YOUNG: Mm-hmm.  
  •  SOLIS: Ok.  
  •  YOUNG: Yes.  
  •  SOLIS: Did he ever talk with you about his run-ins, you know, with the police or—with Melanie we were talking about how he was often profiled around here. Did you ever see that, did you ever witness that?  
  •  YOUNG: I've witnessed one incident, I'm more so of the one that kind of picked up and helped out with the bonds because I was aware of his situations, and trying to hurry up and get him home. But I did experience one situation where we was actually at my godmother's house right around the corner and he was coming 'cause I had just had my baby girl and he was coming to see her.  
  •  YOUNG: And he couldn't even park the car and get out and a police guy swooped up behind him and took him to jail for a Sprite bottle because he said he had something in there. But it wasn't nothing in the Sprite bottle. You know. And me and my godmother and everybody else was telling them, hey, he wasn't doing anything, what's going on? They were kind of just like, Well, y'all shut up and go back in the house. He'll be out next, like— You know, so I seen him harassed once then. And like my cousin said, he was never really fearful, he just was frustrated. Like, now you see. Because I usually just tried to tell him, Vincent, try not to do this, or don't blow your music this loud. Maybe they won't see you. Try to just keep you under the radar. He was just like—  
  •  SOLIS: Yeah.  
  •  YOUNG: You know. And I'm not confrontational at all so I always was the person to try to find other things you could try to avoid them. And like my cousin said, me personally, I don't have a problem with the police. I feel like you here to protect and serve, that's what I need you to be doing.  
  •  YOUNG: At the same time, I'm cautious and I've never really had any run-ins with the law. But I've seen how not only my cousin Vincent but how they done other Black boys in the community and I've witnessed and it's like that's kind of crazy. I have a brother that's eleven months behind me. He's experiencing the same thing. And it's just like, okay, so what do you do? What do you do?  
  •  SOLIS: When was the last time you saw Vincent?  
  •  YOUNG: February 5th. Vincent's birthday is February 18th and mine is February 21st. And we always threw our birthday parties together. And his wife's is in February, too, so all three of us. And I met with him at their house and I was going over some details and we was trying to do something real different. I was turning thirty and I had just lost my husband so he was like, we're gonna make it big for you. We're gonna do it. We was putting together a prom theme for the birthdays. So everybody'd wear their tuxedos and their dresses and everybody come out and have a good time. So I met with him on the 5th, and we was talking about things, like, you won't get mad if I have on a tux with some Jordans? And I was like, no, you can't wear Jordans. You know, we were joking. And he said, well, I go to court on the seventh, but if you pay for the deposit on the hall, I'll give you your half back. And I went and paid—when I left him that day I went and paid for the hall. That was it. The day of our party we had his funeral. Yep. So.  
  •  SOLIS: What was your reaction hearing about what happened?  
  •  YOUNG: I think because I was already still trying to heal from my husband, I was just like—in disbelief. I kind of went into shock, like—kind of just sat around. Because my cousin called me. I couldn't really make out what she was saying but once I put it all together I kind of just sat there. Just like, okay, this can't be real. And going through—just going through everything, I think my thing is, solutions. I'm a realist, so when I did the next day there comes a time I got up and we all met, like five o'clock in the morning, Valentine's morning. We all just sitting around and I think we all watched the sun come up and we waited to go to the jailhouse.  
  •  YOUNG: And I'm just like—and even at the press conference then, I spoke to the Sheriff then. I don't know what went on, but I know he didn't kill his self. So then I asked the lady, I'm not telling you how to do your job. I'm just asking you to be righteous. So if somebody would go in and do a proper investigation, y'all will see that he didn't hang his self. So I'm not saying who did what, or what, because I wasn't there, but what I can tell you is that what y'all came up with is not right.  
  •  YOUNG: It just don't add up. So I'm a realist and I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt until you show me otherwise, so I'm not the one to attack you and say, hey, look what y'all did was—it's who did it, why you did it, can somebody go in and fix it? Is my method. I'm kind of—my cousins say I'm kind of—real by the book. You tell me. Okay, I got a problem with this, who do I need to talk to? Okay, you can't help me, direct me to the next person.  
  •  YOUNG: So I try to go through the channels. But me being that person, I've done that. And I've have doors slammed in my face. I'm not rallying at your door, I'm not trying to kick down your door and say hey, look you did this you did that. I'm trying to be real professional and be mindful that everybody is not the same. But show me where I can get help. And it's not happening. It's not happening. And so on my end with it, my cousin do a lot of the marches, putting together the rallies. But I'm working more on a petition to get a law changed in his name. And stuff on that note, so it won't go away.  
  •  SOLIS: Tell me a little about the petition.  
  •  YOUNG: So, since my cousin was killed in Harris County, they have changed roll call. And every hour—so it was every fifteen, twenty minutes they was supposed to check on the inmates. It wasn't happening. So that was another reason that they say the gap time frame between my cousin—Well, we couldn't find him or see him or anything. Now if you go into the jailhouse system, they're actually doing the fifteen, twenty minute roll call. A sheriff was fired because he didn't do that in my cousin's death. So what else can we do to ensure that all measures are being taken?  
  •  YOUNG: Because it's a little backwards to me. Like I told the sheriff, you say innocent until proven guilty, it's backwards. It's backwards. My cousin hadn't been in trouble with the law in over a year and a half. He was fighting old charges. Old charges. Which made no sense to me. I'm doing that. So we got a petition going and I'm working with somebody now to help me get it started online, where people can sign up online. And then I'm also working to get a foundation started in his name.  
  •  SOLIS: That's great.  
  •  YOUNG: Just trying to do all for it.  
  •  SOLIS: What do you want the foundation to—  
  •  YOUNG: For his kids. He had seven kids. So it'll go into trust funds for his kids. We also have tee shirts with a tee shirt company, in his honor so fifty percent of the proceeds go to his kids as well. Like my cousin said he had small kids. Some of them won't even know—we all from the same area so there's really no money, no nothing. He took care of his kids. So by doing this foundation I just want to still make sure these kids is being taken care of in all this chaos is going on.  
  •  YOUNG: So I kind of focused my energy and stuff in another way to try to make some positive come out of it. And to support my cousin with the marches and the rallies. And the main thing we really wanted to see is—you can't pay us. We've been living our whole life without money. So you can't pay us. And we live just fine.  
  •  YOUNG: But what we do want to see happen is that suicide is taken off of his death certificate. We don't want that. Because he was an honorable man and I think he should be honored. That's not right. So that's a lot of reason why we keep pressing for the press to come out. Why we keep asking, hey, can you air this, can you see this. He knew he was coming home. It just didn't add up. It just didn't add up.  
  •  SOLIS: This family has dealt with a lot of tragedy. And you, with losing your husband not that long before Vincent. How do you find peace, or healing?  
  •  YOUNG: Faith. Faith. I have two small children myself. I have a nine-year-old and I have a two-year-old. I keep going for them. And my cousin wouldn't want me to give up. Even with losing my husband, I could call him and he'd say, you've got those babies. You've got to keep going. It's not your time. God has something else in store for you. When there's a will there's a way. So I just think, it's another of these days, Nisha. Get better. You keep going, you keep pushing, and who am I to give up?  
  •  YOUNG: Who am I to give up? People who—you had slavery going on, you had everything going on, people fought through a lot more stuff than I have endured already. And just living in poverty and growing up and trying to make a change is a struggle. And I don't want it to be all for nothing, I want to leave something better for my kids. Like I said, us three—being Melanie, Vincent, and myself—we're all the family have. So we can't afford to lay down and give up. It's just not in us.  
  •  YOUNG: Her mother had a drug addiction, my mother had alcohol addiction, so it's just wanting better to do better. I was like Melanie, I was the one graduated from school, went to college, got married, got a degree, got a house, got a nice job, but I'm here. Every day, all day, my mom's here. My brother and sister and them here, I'm here. Can't get rid of your family, you know? It's your roots. So I come back, just like everybody else. Just like Vincent did. I come back. And I just put my faith in the good Lord and I keep going. That's it.  
  •  SOLIS: I'll ask you the same question that I asked Melanie, which is, what do people in the public—people like myself, people who aren't impacted by this kind of tragedy, what do we need to know or understand or learn from Vincent's story and from the experience that your family's going through right now?  
  •  YOUNG: I just think awareness. You know, I'm a firm believer that knowledge is power. Just knowing—because I felt like this is a TV reality show. You know, like something you watch on TV not knowing that it could be your own backdoor. So I don't feel like no one is exempt. With that being said, just know the possibilities and everything that's going on out there. Just like Melanie said, know where your family's at, know their situation, know what's going on. Because it can be anybody.  
  •  YOUNG: It can be anybody. Just the hope for a change in our justice system is what I want. If I could share to you, you might know somebody. Because nowadays, it ain't what you know, it's who you know. You never know who no one knows. So if I tell it to you, I tell it to a number of people maybe I can get the right person. And if that means doing a thousand interviews, talking to a million people, you never know. That one person might be that person to make a change.  
  •  YOUNG: And that's what I'm hoping for. It kind of put me in the mind of, I was affected by Hurricane Harvey and my job was there and I'm working and trying to fix my house and I'm picking the construction guys that's at my job, Hey, I ripped off a sheet wall. What can I do next? Just picking information from people. And the guy offered to do my house for free. That's the owner. You never know who you'll run into. So just telling Vincent's story of his—letting people know him as a person—  
  •  SOLIS: Yes.  
  •  YOUNG: —Not as a convict, not what you hear on TV, not what they make you want to believe, but as a person. He was loving, he was caring, he was a father, he was a cousin, he was all of that. All of that. Hurricane Katrina hit in New Orleans, he was there cleaning up, helping.  
  •  YOUNG: He was a human being. Out of all of this, he was a human being, and he should have been treated as such. And I think that's where they failed. He was a—he had—go through the proper channels. If you find him guilty, we can live with that. We know there's a justice system in place—go through the proper channels. To deem him— whatever he had done. But they didn't do that. Y'all cut his life short for whatever your personal reason was with him. And it's just not fair. That's just like saying I don't like somebody on the street so let me just shoot him. You can't do that. So that's how I felt they did him.  
  •  SOLIS: Is there anything else you want to share with us, Nisha?  
  •  YOUNG: I just want to thank y'all for giving us the opportunity to tell who he was. And a lot of focus has been on his background, this and that, but like I said, he was my cousin. And he meant something to us, regardless of what the world viewed him or thought about him, he was loved.  
  •  YOUNG: In order to be loved you got to give love. And he left a legacy and he left loved ones. Like my cousin says, you go months still sometimes without sleeping. Or we'll meet up and we just talk about him. Or if Vincent was here he would have did this and it's just—you can't put a price on something like that.  
  •  YOUNG: So just to have someone to say, well, we'll pay you to shut up—it don't fix what we feel every day from losing our cousin, our brother. And my aunt struggles tremendously. I just continue to pray for our family, continue to pray for strength, and just pray that everything falls in the right hands and that something will be done. Not only for our family—like Melanie said, if it's somebody else's family and the justice system is tore down and rebuilt, we can take that. It's just somebody needs to look into what's going on. And that's all we're asking.  
  •  SOLIS: Well, thank you so much.  
  •  YOUNG: Thank you.  
  •  SOLIS: I really do appreciate y'all taking time to speak with us.  
  •  YOUNG: No problem.  
  •  SOLIS: Thank you. [INTERVIEW ENDS]  
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Title:Interview with Nisha Young
Sequence:1 of 1
  • Nisha YoungRole: Narrator
  • Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
  • Texas Justice InitiativeRole: Collaborator
  • Gabriel SolisRole: Interviewer
  • Jane FieldRole: Videographer
Date Created:2017/09/16
Geographic Focus:North America--United States--Texas--Harris County--Houston
Geographic Base:North America--United States--Texas--Travis County--Austin
Type of Resource:Moving image
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