The community I've been living in since I was two years old isn’t the best. A lot of people in my community have this “If you live in the hood, you're going to die in the hood” mentality. A lot of crimes and gun violence happen daily. Being a witness and victim of these traumatic experiences motivates me to get out of my neighborhood and be someone that both of my younger siblings look up to.
When I was twelve, I was walking to the recreational center to watch my friend’s basketball game, when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two older men having a huge commotion at the end of the block. They were arguing about a bet, because one guy owed the other money. The argument was so bad that you could see both men's facial expressions changing dramatically, veins popping at the top of their foreheads, voices so loud they had the whole neighborhood’s attention.
The next thing I knew, one of the guys pulled a sharp object out of his jacket pocket and stabbed the other guy in the ribs in broad daylight! The man rushed out of the crime scene, never to be seen again. After witnessing that moment, my body was so petrified my mind wasn't thinking straight. The man was on the concrete covered in blood, mouthing, “Help me,” while everybody just walked by, ignoring him.
After witnessing something so traumatic, I was motivated to start doing something in my life and start focusing more on school. Around that time, my first sibling was born, leading me to strive even harder. I didn't want my brother witnessing something like I had at a very young age.
My first year of high school was very challenging. I lost track of my goals and started hanging out with the neighborhood kids, getting into fights with rival gang members. I was failing a lot of my classes and even went to summer school. All this changed during my sophomore year of high school. I had to take my grades more seriously, because I was in jeopardy of not even having enough credits to graduate. A lot was expected from me and from my siblings. I come from a very religious Muslim household, and my mother knew I was better than this. I didn't want to be another African-American teenage dropout.
Like the great Malcolm X once said, “ Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” This relates to me because I am already preparing for my future. I am taking AP Computer Science classes and a Computer Science internship to prepare me to work in the technology field. I am also taking boxing for self-defense and to keep me out of the kind of trouble from the streets that I witnessed when I was twelve years old.
As I am now currently at the last year of high school, a lot has changed for me. These past four years, I have grown into a young, educated African American man. Just because you live in the streets doesn't mean you have to live there forever! People have to get that misconception out of their heads. All human beings have a lot of potential that they can realize just by hard work and dedication to something that they really love. These traumatic experiences did have a positive impact on me because they shaped me into who I am today: a champion.