Since I started writing my blog, many followers have emailed me asking when am I going to talk about Keyshia Cole and her relationship to my son. As many of you know, Keyshia Cole is a famous celebrity with an amazing voice. She is a four-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, and she has a new reality TV show called Family First.
Keyshia’s mother, Frankie, and Lance’s biological father, Clarence, are brother and sister. That makes Lance and Keyshia first cousins.
Clarence has been in prison for all but 9 months of the last 23-plus years, since 1989. Prior to 1989, he spent a total of 2 years in jail. His convictions are all drug-related, and they include 7 robberies, a kidnapping, a sodomy, and unlawful possession of a firearm. Clarence has been a very dangerous person, to say the least.
I know the question praying on everyone’s mind is, What was Becki doing with a person like that? The crazy thing is, when Clarence is away from his cohorts and from drugs, he can actually be a nice person and deep inside has a good heart.
Clarence and his sister Frankie (Keyshia Cole’s mom) are very similar in their behavior when they are in the drug world. Alonzo one of Clarence’s brother’s, was recently released from prison and is upset that I am writing about his family. Alonzo has recently left threatening and vulgar messages on my my cell phone repeatedly and would like me to cease writing about his family as it is upsetting his mother. Alonzo when leaving these messages has called my husband a punk and me a “white Bitch and said he was going to come to Oregon and slap the shit out of me”. The reality is this is my story and my experience and I will continue.
Clarence and Frankie do have another brother Vernon and sister Beatrice who are pastors in California and are involved with many good deeds in the community. Beatrice also is upset that I am writing about the family and feel’s that I should keep it to my self. Clarence and Frankie, through no part of their own, are also the biological parents of two really good kids: my son Lance and his cousin Keyshia. But neither Clarence nor Frankie can take any credit for how wonderful and successful these two young people are.
Clarence will not be released from prison until 2015. My wish for Clarence and the community is that when he is released, he decides to stay off drugs once and for all and to not return to a life of crime. That is my hope and prayer, anyway.
Over the last few months, I have spoken on the phone to Clarence to inform him I was writing a book. He is supportive and has given me permission to write anything and everything about him and his family. I also shared with him the two recent bank robberies that Lance experienced and the trauma it caused Lance. I think knowing that his innocent son has been on the receiving end of a robbery that could have cost him his life and did cause him great distress has had an impact on Clarence. Or at least I hope so.
Lance has chosen not to have a relationship with his biological father, in part because the one time Clarence was out of prison since 1989, he made promises to Lance that he did not keep. Those promises were actually made to Ronnie and me on Lance’s behalf. When Clarence was released from prison that time, years ago, Ronnie and I met him for lunch and gave him an ultimatum: Straighten up, or we would never support him having a relationship with Lance. Ronnie was kinder to Clarence during that lunch meeting than I was. In fact, at one point, I just got up and walked out, because I knew Clarence’s promises were empty; I could see it in his eyes and felt it in my heart. Ronnie, however, always gives everyone the benefit of a doubt.
A few short months later, Clarence chose to commit yet another robbery and went back to prison. We found out while watching the news one night; there it was on TV — Clarence involved with an armed robbery. Again, I’d been right about him; again, Lance’s biological father had let him down and shamed him.
In that respect, Keyshia and Lance have many things in common. Unfortunately, Keyshia, unlike Lance, had to deal with growing up around all the violence, drugs, hatred, and arrests of her mother, Frankie. At least Keyshia was able to live with a family who showed her love and support for those periods of time when Frankie was in jail or “on the streets prostituting and doing drugs.” Ronnie and I protected Lance from that madness and never told anyone who his biological father was and what he was involved in.
Thankfully, Keyshia escaped that world, chose not to take that a similar path, and created a good life for herself and a fabulous career in the entertainment industry. Today, this talented, amazing young woman is known and loved around the world. Lance is also an incredible young man, smart and kind, with a good job at a bank and high hopes and dreams of having a successful career, too.
Keyshia’s mother and Keyshia’s sister, Neffe, also had a reality show for a couple of seasons called Frankie and Neffe, which aired on BET. Ronnie and I watched two episodes, and we were disgusted. We feel they made themselves and the family look so “ghetto.” I knew it was mostly staged for TV drama, but it was still degrading to the family, and I just couldn’t watch any more. I refused to even tell Lance they had the show, because it was not a true reflection of his biological family and I didn’t want him involved in all that or for the show to bring him down.
I’m still in contact with members of Clarence’s family. I am disappointed they’ve been distant from Lance over the years. However, I do understand that Clarence’s mom, Alice, was trying to work without any financial support to speak of from the fathers of her 6 children. I also understand that when those children started having children, Alice ended up trying to take care of many of them, as well. What a mess! I am glad that Lance was spared the madness and fighting and drama that most of his aunts, uncles, cousins, and a half-brother experienced on a daily basis in Oakland.
The rest of the story of Clarence and his family and my experiences with them will be in my book. One thing is certain, it will be the truth, not distorted, as a few of Clarence’s family members have chosen to do on television shows and in books.
Meanwhile, I am proud of Lance and Keyshia. And I continue to believe that it should always be God — and then family — first!
P.S. Please continue to follow my blog. Next up: a slideshow of family photos from the past. Some are pretty amusing!