So Many Tears, by Teresa Aviles
Published by Amiaya Entertainment; reviewed
by Tom Murlowski
should ever have to bury her child, ever. Most folks would think
that was the worst pain a human heart could bear. But they'd
be wrong. Far worse pain comes from knowing your child was betrayed
and mindlessly ground up by the government you've trusted to
serve and protect.
In So Many Tears, Teresa Aviles
tells the heart-wrenching story of how the War on Drugs took
away her first-born child, Isidro. Implicated in a federal drug
conspiracy, Isidro was sucked into the maw of the criminal justice
nightmare and sentenced to 26 years for a first-time non-violent
drug law violation, destined never to return to the arms of his
Arrested with no drugs, money or evidence
of any sort, and convicted on the questionable word of a paid
government informant, Isidro was eight years into his sentence
when he was taken deathly ill. Teresa tells of being saddled
by the sickening frustration resulting from communications with
an unfeeling bureaucracy while just trying to get information
and help her ailing son.
Even now this mother still doesn't have
any real answers. Isidro's death certificate, written by US Bureau
of Prison officials, still states he was a White Male who died
"I kept thinking that this was
a bad dream and that I was going to wake up and the dream was
going to fade from my memory. Little did I know that I was not
going to wake up from this nightmare, but that it was going to
last, for the rest of my life." - from So Many
This book is an unflinching look at the
gritty reality of life in the housing projects of the Bronx,
New York City, and a wake-up call about the racism and classism
still alive and well in the streets of America. Having grown
up in comfortable white suburbia in the Midwest, I feel almost
incapable of critiquing this story, but perhaps that's the strength
of this emotion-stirring book: its ability to hold any reader
spellbound by the awful misfortune of one family.
I challenge anyone of any race, color or
creed who defends mass incarceration as a response to drugs and
crime in America to read and experience So Many Tears.
You won't be disappointed with your new understanding of incarceration's
social-damage side effects.
Teresa Aviles vowed on her son's deathbed
that she would devote her life to ending the injustice of the
War on Drugs, and she fights tirelessly still. Teresa has been
a steadfast volunteer with the November Coalition since that
dreadful day in July 1998 when her son died mysteriously.
Every year she organizes demonstrations,
sponsors a Summer Picnic and hosts a Christmas Party for local
children of incarcerated parents, all in honor of her fallen
son, Isidro Lamont Aviles.
So Many Tears is available from Amiaya
Entertainment LLC, PO Box 1275, New York, NY 10159, (212) 946-6565,
and online at www.amiayaentertainment.com
I just finished your book this morning. I can't tell you
how many tears I shed reading it. I wanted to tell you that you
are an amazing, strong and wonderful woman/mother/grandmother.
The decisions you made were so hard I cannot imagine, being a
mother myself. My sister was also in the system for several years
and there was this one incident when she fell while mopping the
halls (a job that was assigned to her) well she broke her ankle
and the CO's told her to stop the crying that if she were a HORSE
he would just put her out of her misery and shoot her dead. I
was so angry when she called us and told us this story. Do they
really need to be treated like animals?
Well, my sister is now in heaven along with your Isidro. I
lost her to another demon on the streets (heroin). She left behind
two children Jeremy 7 and Bryan 17 months now. My mom has Bryan
now and I help with taking care of him. Jeremy lives with his
dad. But had she gotten help when she was first incarcerated
she would probably be here today.
Again, you are an inspiration to all women. God Bless You
and your family.
From a reader and a fan. Keep up the good work in the name
of your first born son.
I am still crying. WOW. This book is so powerful, and so awesome.
You are so strong and blessed. Several of my coworkers and friends
are looking to purchase the book, they have to get it from Amiaya
though. B&N will not have it until late April I see :(.
Thank you for sharing your gift and being an awesome example
of motherhood and love.
Talk to you soon. Luv Ya, Nicole
"I could not believe I was reading a book writen by my
own mom! This book made me laugh, it made me cry, but most of
all -- it touched me deep down inside! Having seen so much of
it, but not really knowing how Teresa was feeling (until I read
the book), it let me see a deeper side of my mother!" --
Shawaun Aviles, January 24, 2006
"A Heartfelt Mother's Tale: This story is one that beautifully
illustrates the love of a mother and son. It will make you laugh,
cry, empathize and get into action against the war on drugs.
I really enjoyed her honest words and poetic twist strung throughout
the memoir. A must read!" -- Kim, A reviewer, January 23, 2006
"I went to Our Lady of Grace with Isidro. When I started
reading So Many Tears and saw the dedication and picture of him
I couldn't believe he was gone. The last time I saw him he was
sitting in front of this house on 230th & Bronxwood Avenue,
and it seems like that was just a couple of years ago. I laugh
and I cried when I read this book because I always remember Isidro
being the class clown -- he always kept us laughing. I can honestly
say that I don't remember Isidro any other way but smiling.
"I was the little black chubby girl with the short hair
that all the boys use to tease, and your son used to tell me
every time I cried to "forget them, they're just stupid!"
I just wanted to share that with you and to let you know that
as a mother, I share your pain.
"As a black woman I admire you for your courage to fight
for other families who are suffering because of a loved one being
in the system. So many time we as people accept things without
questions that we shouldn't. It is good to see that there is
someone like you to fight for people who might not know how to
fight for themselves. I pray that God continues to bless you
and your family." -- Maxine Bullock-Folson, New York City
"A mother tells how the drug war destroyed her first-born
child, Isidro, at age 26, seven years 'down' on a 27 year sentence
for drug conspiracy. Did he do it? She knew the dealer who snitched
but never knew the details. Why did he take a plea? She never
knew. What killed him? She never knew. The reader fills in the
blanks left by the callousness and secrecy of the federal criminal
"Apparently Isidro caved when the prosecutor threatened
to charge other members of the Aviles family with conspiracy.
Isidro was willing to take 27 years rather than that. Prosecutors
come down hard on a defendant who won't admit "guilt",
and there is nothing to stop them. Conspiracy charges are easy
to "prove" since all that's needed is the word of another
defendant trying to get favored treatment for himself.
"Teresa Aviles writes this account both as a eulogy to
her son and as a warning to other black women to wake up to the
societal damage being done to the Afro-American community by
the drug war. The publisher bills it as a 'novel', but don't
believe it. This really happened, and we Americans all should
be ashamed of it." -- John Chase, Palm Harbor, FL
You can read more about Teresa and her
work at www.november.org/Volunteers/NY/TeresaAviles/