Perrion Roberts shares her story on BET’s ‘American Gangster: Trap Queens’ season 2
Formerly known as the 'Black Widow,' Roberts and four others are chronicled in the second installment of the true-crime docuseries.
Narrated by Lil’ Kim, BET’s American Gangster: Trap Queens returns for a second season and shares the stories of five women who made it to the top in street crime.
Their true stories not only shed light on the various paths to the criminal lifestyle, but the docuseries also highlights the systematic gender and racial disparities that exist in the prison system through compelling first-hand experiences. The women featured in season two were all notorious for their various hustles which almost never fell in legal bounds.
Perrion Roberts, Brandi Davis, Dwen Curry, Tiffani Rose Peak and Shauntay Henderson listed crimes range from fraud to drug trafficking, across the country.
American Gangster includes the perspective of not only the Queen’s but their family members, law enforcement, and also their former partners-in-crime. Each 45-minute episode goes deep into personal narratives, shedding the hardened exterior and street names and revealing the women who made it both inside and out of a vicious cycle.
“When I first found out that they [police officers] were calling me the ‘Black Widow’, it really made me mad, because I’m like, I’m no black widow. But you know, they had put it out in the streets, that’s what they were calling me,” Roberts shared with theGrio. “This is how you think of me, that’s fine. I know who I am, I know what I was doing. I know who my mother raised.”
American Gangster tells Roberts story of rising to the top of an Alabama-based drug empire. In 1992, Roberts was arrested, and stood trial for capital murder, and acquitted. She continued to move in-and-out of the dope game and eventually in 2004 was arrested and sentenced to 21 years on drug-related charges.
This arrest was the pivotal change in Roberts’s life and while in prison she worked on criminal justice reform and filed lawsuits against the institution, regarding the conditions of the facilities, and assisted with other inmates’ cases.
“Alabamians deserve a justice system that sentences fairly, helpful rehabilitative services, and [to] keep people safe during incarceration,” she said to theGrio.
“I am a true advocate of helping with criminal justice reform at this point. I filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections when I was in prison, and I and I won a lot of the parts of it... One of the things that our governor is trying to work is building new prisons. That’s not even an option. There are enough prisons, there needs to be other avenues… I just want people to know that. I am very, very adamant about helping with criminal justice reform. I just want to help people, that’s all I want to do.”
While living the lifestyle of a drug dealer, Roberts had the desire to care for others. Her hold on the streets resulted in a significant profit. She used the money to not only care for herself but also her family, her daughter, and others.
“Even when I was selling drugs, I was active in the community as far as helping people. I’ve helped so many people, and that’s what I like doing. I took care of a lot of people kids looked out for a lot of people, and I still do.”
Roberts currently works with youth and incarcerated women as a mentor to help encourage them to stay on the right path. Her narrative being shared by BET is another vehicle to relay her message of the danger of bad choices and the power of wanting to change.
“‘I’m very excited being on BET, and I really am grateful and humbled for them to want me to be on on the show to be able to let people know about my story, and what it was like, and what led from starting to become a queen pin and my journey which was, very unusual. Coming from a middle-class family and being in college, and then dropping out of school to sell drugs and make my path that way,” she shared.
“I want people to know that, you know, despite what you go through, or what you do in life, it is not the end, and you can change your life.”
She is writing an autobiographical book Beyond a Dream to reveal her story in her words, to document her rise, struggles and triumphs made throughout her eventful life.
“I had to write a book because a lot of stuff is not going to be seen in the documentary, you can go into more details into the book. I wanted people to clearly understand the way I was thinking, and, and what led me to do the things that I’ve done, and what led me to change,” she said.
“I want them to be inspired. I want them to take from the book is the inspiration that I can change, that I can do, or I can become wherever I want to be. I didn’t let my felonies stop me from going to pre-law school. I didn’t let my felonies stop me from working in companies that said that they did not hire ex-felons.”
The series is executive produced by Arthur Smith and Frank Sinton of A. Smith & Co. Productions, alongside Emmy Award-winner Judge Greg Mathis. The first five episodes of American Gangster: Trap Queens will be released on BET+ on January 14.
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