I will share my story with you.
I am from a noisy house with laptops, game systems, and over protective dogs
I am from a warm home, loving family, hustlers, and street basketball
I am from fried chicken, pizza, burgers & fries, and cold drinks
I am from Christmas Eve parties exchanging gifts, popping fireworks, BBQ on the 4 of July
I am from songs like, “When my back was against the wall who could I call not none of y’all.” and Marvin Gaye’s, “Distant lover so many miles away.”
I am from a hard-working mother, three brothers, and a smart family of males who make dumb decisions
I am from watching my cousins go to jail, and a single parent household
I am from racial stereotypes by police, a broken family, gun violence, and low graduation rates
I am from scribing to make ends meet, learning experiences from the streets a place where people kill over change, disagree about sports, and pretending that things are okay like in the movies
I am from wanting to make the world a better place with no support from outsiders
I am from a city where people think that gangs, violence, heavy peer pressure, and drug dealers are normal for our community
I am from Memphis Tennessee, first team all defense.
Though I speak, my grief is not relieved; and if I remain silent how I am eased? I’ve learned, ladies and gentlemen, that I can do better – I know I can! Do you think you can do better? You need to do better and we need to do better.
We all want the same problem solved: youth violence, but in order for that to happen we have to become hand in hand, adults and the youth. There is something that the youth want and need that adults just can’t figure out.
I would like to ask you to ask yourself this question, “How many teenagers or youth who have experienced violence would openly share and pour out their feelings to you to help create one of the most effective plans to decrease violence in our communities?”
Nowadays, going to school and just having work tossed to you is not the way to learn. A student like me, with A.D.H.D., will only pay attention to a boring lesson for so long before my mind wonders off. And the first time a student does something wrong they’re expelled, and a lot of times that’s what the student wants because we feel it’s not catching our attention enough to make us want to learn.
I was like this but when my 10th grade teachers started to make the classes fun something out of their lessons stuck with me for a long time. If you ask a teenager why they cut class, I guarantee you 9 out of 10 of the answers will be because the class is boring, and no student wants to skip a fun class where they still learn the same thing.
When a student skips class that’s 45 minutes or more time to do just about anything you can think of – fights, drugs, and other crimes – you can catch their attention and make them care about missing class for even 5 minutes after school where the topic will still be on their minds, blocking the thought of any violence.
They’ll start telling their friends, family, and other people that start conversations with them about the lesson. I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “how would he know?” I’ve done it before I’ve seen students acting out these very words. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve cut boring classes because it gave me insight on a big problem with in youth violence.
Trust me, this is just one of the ways to decrease youth violence and I know it’s one of the main reasons behind the violence. Knowledge is power, and education is the key to gain that knowledge.
As teenagers, we don’t think twice before we act. I know adults tell us all the time, “that’s not good for you” or “don’t do that because you’ll get in trouble,” but if you’ve noticed we tend not to listen to adults but to each other. So, if one teen that has been through a lot and have dealt with violence stands up in his community and says “no more!” watch how many teens change their mindset; and not just in that community or that city, but all over the world.
We can do it together or continue to think that over time youth violence will go down on its own. I was told that the rational part of a person’s brain isn't fully developed and won't be until he or she is 25 years old or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. If you ask me I say that’s why we as teenagers don’t take the time to think about the consequences that follow our actions. That comes from the lack of knowledge, support, and opportunity to express ourselves to someone we trust.
If we, the youth, were able to get the knowledge in a fun way within the school I know the feeling of support and opportunity will follow. The good Book says, “MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE!”
I admit cutting class was wrong, and I should’ve just gone to class but what do you expect when the teacher literally tells me “Don’t bother coming to my class I’m not going to let you in?”