Girlz 'n the Hood
A Memoir of Mama in South Central Los Angeles
Dr. Mary Hill-Wagner
Girlz 'n the Hood is the unsentimental, moving, and surprisingly humorous account of a girl and her ten siblings who grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Mary’s mother was a fierce matriarch, a single mom who raised eleven children with the help of welfare checks and a fire arm hidden in her bra. Drugs, guns, and pregnancies were everyday occurrences, but Mary and her siblings took it all in stride, spying on the grown-ups, playing in the streets, and helping to take care of the new babies when they were born. The dubious yet colorful cast of characters that came into their lives (the Jehovah Witnesses, the whores, the addicts, the fathers), and the never-ending series of hardships (the jail terms, the knife fights, the mental illness, and homicides), couldn’t shake the core of the family. This is the story of Mary, but even more so, it’s the story of her mother, a uniquely strong and extraordinary woman who was able to survive moments of pain and disappointment by laughing at the comedy of human missteps, miscalculations, and downright stupidity. This is also a story about race and of poverty and how, over time, it can wear you down.