I speak to kids on a frequent basis. Particular ones between the ages of 16 and 24. I see so many of these kids making the same mistakes I did at their age. Now I am not saying there is a great gap in age between them and I. I turn 30 this year. Yet I still can't help but to be concerned about the future generations and the potential that so many are failing to utilize.
Let me give you two great examples of misguided youth. I met this one boy. He is 20 years old. Out on the streets trying to live the rapper personified life style. This boy has the name brand tags, the passion for music and rhyme, but also the street hustle mentality. This boy showed me his career passport. This career passport was what was given to him upon graduation from high school. Within this portfolio was SAT and ACT scores that were exceptionally high. In addition to these College prep scores he also possessed a letter of recommendation from a Ohio state Senator. I found myself bewildered and perplexed at the reading of this phenomenal portfolio that he possessed. I couldn't help but ask him, "with this potential and these high recommendations, what are you doing on these streets." He in turned stated to me, "this life is all I know." I thought to myself, "wow"! How can someone who has so much potential let the streets take control of themselves and dictate their life. I had to speak more in-depth to this young man, I already knew partially how the boy grew up. It wasn't the "Leave it to Beaver, or Full House" type of upbringing. Yet he felt like their was nothing more to life than the streets. I looked at the young man and said, "I see you wearing a suit and tie, and out making real money. This street life is only going to make you a statistic. The department of corrections is always looking for new members." Then suddenly I had a short flashback into my own past and mistakes. At one time I was known as inmate number 637-157. At the age of 17 I decided to rob a carryout gas station. During that robbery I nearly beat a man to death with a lead pipe. 10 years later I was sentenced to prison for that crime, I committed when I myself was still a child. Wow, if I knew then what I know now.
Then there is another young man. Much the same as the first. This young man is 24 years old. I don't know his complete family history but I knew enough that he came from a home where his father was not around. He was to busy serving time in prison. This young man was out on the streets selling cocaine. In fact tonight he came to my home after running from the cops. He told me about everything that had just happened. About how the cops stopped to interrogate him and how his pockets were loaded with grams of coke. He kept saying over and over, "tonight I almost went to jail, the game was almost over." I had to just shack my head and look intently at the boy as he was talking to me. As he was rehashing what had just transpired just a hour prior.
There is a pattern I am finding among so many of our youth today. Some may blame the media and our society, and others may blame things on poor parenting skills. It could be a combination of both that is causing our youth to take the wrong path. The way I see it at the end of the day we as humans make the conscious choice to do wrong. Yet I am so drawn to and determined to let these kids know that yes this may be all you know now, but it is not everything. You have the chance to better your life and rise above any obstacle that has been placed in your path.
I like to play cards. Whether it is poker, hearts, or spades. The biggest lesson that you can learn from playing cards is that you must play the hand that you have been dealt, even if it's a bad hand. It is up to us to make the difference. It is up to change the direction our lives are heading in. We have the power and the ability to change ourselves and the atmosphere around us. It is up to each individual to do so.
These two young men have been on my mind. Of course there are many others who are sharing the same story. I just wish I could reach out to them all. To tell them that they can rise above. That they do not have to be a statistic. I have made it a mission to save our youth. They are our hope and promise of a brighter tomorrow. Yet we must invest in our kids. We must work hard to share our story and help them understand that there is a consequence for every action that we take part in, but also that they can rise above their current situation. The kids these days still have a bright future, but we have to do our part to show them the way. We cannot carry them down the road, but we can walk with them