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By: Kirsten West Savali, Your Black World
Barbara Terry pictured, 52, is a mother of four children – two of which she has lovingly sent off to college, after raising them as a single mother. After 30 years of back-breaking work, she is on the verge of purchasing a home in Upstate New York, embarking on the much-deserved retirement leg of her life’s journey.SEE ALSO: Haiti: Life Beyond the Tent CitiesWhile her story is similar to many Black women, there is one small detail that makes people do a double-take: She’s a prostitute.Terry is not just any prostitute, though. The New York Times reports that Terry appeared as “Cleo” in the 1990’s urban classic documentary, “Hookers at the Point,” and she has plowed her trade in the same Bronx neighborhood for more than 30 years, losing teeth and turning tricks while her mother and grandmother “pray for her every Sunday at church.”Terry is a preferred customer at Riker’s Island, having been arrested more than 100 times. Obviously, her children want her to stop living in the streets, but that matter is closed to discussion: When they were old enough to understand, I would tell them the truth,” said Ms. Terry of her grown children. I’d say, This is how I’m supporting you. For me, it’s a business, a regular job.Terry’s profitable, albeit, unorthodox occupation opens the door to a very provocative question that has been recycled again and again over time without any discernible shift in policy:Should prostitution be legal?