Dear The Beat Within Readers / Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth

by Johnny Rodriguez

May this letter be well received in a few years. I am humbly proud to return praying my letter and motivational poem touches your hearts and opens you up to the sobering facts of life.

In December of 2013, almost three years ago, I lost a new, yet dear, friend, Alicia. At only fourteen she had been dealing with hardship of a broken home, gangs, and school. She was mercilessly gunned down in the drug and gang infested streets of Compton, California, before even having had the chance to mature out of that wayward life.

Within the time I was blessed to get to know Alicia, I discovered a young female who had lost her mom much too soon. While she had a loving father, to my knowledge, it was not enough to keep her from seeking a family and a meaning from a gang. She matured way too fast for her age and ended up a delinquent.

I was blessed to know that despite this, she still envisioned herself as someone working in the medical field in the future. I began to help to reinforce her visions of her short and long-term goals as best I could. The day before Alicia was robbed of her life, I found out that she had gotten kicked out of school. She reassured me that, “It’s on me, I’ll get back in school.” I told her not to become another statistic, but the very next day, the gift to the world that was Alicia Gomez was gone.

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Like No One Else

by Zuhaur

Muhammad Ali was and still is one of the most in uential human beings of all time. He fought for injustice committed against African Americans. He was the best there is in the boxing world and he proved it by his actions. His name continues to bring joy to other people because that’s what the effect of his entire life is.

There is nobody else who has led a life like Muhammad Ali and there was not a single moment when he failed to prove himself. This is who Muhammad Ali is.

The School of Hard Knocks, an excerpt from the book, Man Up

by James R. Metters Jr.

When I was free on the streets I had a problem with people telling me what was right. I hustled in front of churches, disrespected evangelists, and mocked my elders.

But now, irony had me in a strong headlock; I wanted to listen. This was a strange mental shift for me and my home boys who were used to me acting a fool. And when I really switched up a lot of the homies started hating.

“Eh Jay, what’s up baby boy…where you going?”

“I’m on my way to chapel.” I answered.

“Is that right – the chapel hun – well, I’m on my way to smoke a blunt!” My so called potna said, patronizing me. Normally, I would have cursed him out and started a fight, but I had to stop worrying about what others thought about me and how I wanted to live my life.

Besides that, many dudes were not doing anything significant – just wasting time: reminiscing on the past, drinking pruno (homemade wine), and smoking weed like he’d said.

The church was pop’n! The sermons that were being preached were good and funny. They compelled me to see the error of my ways and the potential for something better. The preacher shouted, “Y’all wasn’t out there running the streets… The streets was running you…ran you right in here so you can listen to me!”

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