Thursday, May 6th, 2010
“I dropped out of high school after my freshman year. I had teachers who put me down and a school counselor who encouraged me to get D’s. I told him that I wanted to do better than that, but he said, ‘You ain’t gonna be any better than that.’ When my Mom had a baby, I knew that I needed to help my family get money and I left school because there was no future for me in the D.C. public schools.
‘I ain’t tell my Mom at first. I used to lie and say that I was going to school and would go and chill at my friend’s house or go and look for a job. You know, I ain’t want to break my Mom’s heart. She used to think I was smart. I mean, yeah, I am smart, but I needed help that I couldn’t get in the schools.
“A couple of months after I dropped out, we got put out of our house. The landlady put our stuff out in the snow along with my newborn baby brother. When we asked her for help, she just laughed in our face. When I saw my friends get off the bus, I thought they would laugh at me, but they didn’t. I just sat there and looked angry because there wasn’t nothing else that I could do. My Mom was so sad and embarrassed. She called her friend Robin, who we have been living with for the past four years.
“I wanted to help my Mom and I tried really hard to find a job. I got little things here and there. At the time, I didn’t think about the future, I just thought about helping my Mom and my baby brother. I would spend my days trying to work and looking at other people coming off of the school bus. Kids would be saying, ‘I got an A on my test today.’ Man, I got nothing on my test because I didn’t even go to school. My cousin ended up helping me get back into school. He said, ‘You can’t drop out of high school and drop into a good job. It don’t work like that. You are not Bill Gates. You can do more help to your family by finishing school.’
“He helped me get to Anacostia High School. I changed my attitude and am doing the best I can. I want to go to college and even got a scholarship. So far, I have visited 13 colleges so far, and am trying to find a college that fits what I want to do in life, which is graphic design.
“Now, I am 19 and I think back on my life. I am young, but I’ve seen a lot. I have seen people getting killed and people pull guns in my face and my mother’s face. It’s just sad. I wish I’d never seen this stuff. I think all of this stuff impacts how I am and why I do some of the things that I do. My grandmother thinks that we grew up around so much violence because where we lived was over a graveyard site. I don’t believe in that stuff, but that is what my grandmother believes.
“But there were good things about my neighborhood, too. My Mom used to take me to the courts to play basketball. She used to school me and still does. Well, I should say, I let her win. Okay, for real, she still beats me. My Mom was like my mother and father. I did have male role models in my uncles. I wanted to be like them, but not all of the way like him because one was killed over jealousy and the other is in-and-out of jail. My Mom tells me that my father is dead, but I don’t know if I believe her. I just know that I would never leave my kids. I really won’t. If I have kids, I will sacrifice everything I have for them like my Mom did for me.
“I just want to say to anyone who is listening to stay positive and fight fire with fire. Don’t do what I did and give up. Stay positive and be somebody in life.”