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by Emile DeWeaver
I’ve heard that students do not drop out of school, they’re “pushed out”. I don’t like that phrase, “pushed out”, because it’s an oversimpli cation of a very complicated process. Before today, I would’ve said that no one pushed me out of school; I ran as hard as I could to get away from getting up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to drag myself to a classroom to listen to the enemy talk about things that didn’t matter to me.
Then, I thought about a book I read by Andy Andrews called The Butter y Effect. It’s a fteen minute read that talks about how the apping of a butter y wing in this room can stir air, grow and grow until a hurricane forms in India. Ridiculous, right? The scientist who discovered the Butter y Effect is real, and it not only applies to butter ies but to everything. Including people. The book’s point: Everything you do matters.
So now I’m thinking, “What is the butter y wing that stirred the winds of my life and culminated in me deciding that my teachers were my enemies? What made me want to run from school?”
In the seventh grade I attended a predominantly white private school (it would be the second predominantly white private school from which I would be expelled). The school suspended me repeatedly for wearing a Malcolm X t-shirt and hat. I refused to stop wearing them because they represented the only history, the only identity I had. The school eventually expelled me.
Them days are over, mobbing around in gee rides, getting at females. Now, I sit in a cell watching my shadow, been down nine months and got a lot more to go. Two months until my birthday, then I will be the big eighteen.
I see memorized in my mind, it’s a blur. Seems like it was yesterday chilling with my boys. As I sit here and face maybe, twenty- ve to life, got me thinking who was really there. If I would have stuck to school and sports things would have ended up different. I still can’t believe it. I am here for a crime. It seems like it was my destination. Where I grew up, was all about gang bang, sell drugs. I thought that was normal.
I knew I grew up wrong when I walked into different schools, everyone looked at me like damn, I thought I was famous. Did sports, had good grades had it all. Blew it away on someone I don’t give a two shhh about.
It’s crazy, I don’t understand, I just want someone way on top to understand. I can’t change who I chill with because I was born into it. As I sit here and learn, it’s too late. People won’t give kids like me another chance, why? We took a life, now karma comes back. They try and send a kid like me to prison at eighteen, come on, I’m still a young man. Me doing more time in prison than I even lived. Doesn’t seem fair. What other way to go when this is all you know, no one taught me any better. I know I ain’t the only one this way. Parents been to prison, did gangs. There ain’t no other way, I can’t change now, it’s too late.
Dear colleagues and friends,
Today our partners over at the JJIE (Juvenile Justice Information
Exchange), based out of Kennesaw, GA, a national website that is the
only publication/site covering juvenile justice and related issues
nationally on a consistent, daily basis, picked up and is featuring a
piece by a new Beat writer, Mathew Edwards.
Mathew is a participant in The Beat Within’s monthly writing workshop inside San Quentin State Prison. He writes about “Addicted to the Street Life,” and what lead him to serving a life sentence as a teenager.
Addicted to the Street Life
If you want to read other fabulous entries from The Beat Within that
the JJIE has posted, which we encourage you to do, here’s the link.
Thank you for your continued support. Have a good week!
by Mathew Edwards
Welcome ladies, gentlemen, faculty members, and fellow graduates. I’m honored to be here amongst so many believers who became graduate achievers… Have you ever reminisced on you journey through the hands of time?
To think who knew I would make it this far?
Who knew I would survive the struggle and still achieve?
It’s amazing what you can do if you believe…
Who knew this graduation would feature me,
A celebration for all of us to see.
Even in the midst of negativity and despair,
We stare, at men worthy of being praised,
Chins raised, eyes blaze, radiating a positive accomplish glare… My incarceration journey started from a boy to a man,
Which began at age sixteen for 2nd degree murder.
Eighteen years of being con ned has been a tough grind, Weighing heavy on my mind,
Opening my eyes to a world of possibilities
to see if you search knowledge and wisdom you will nd… Some of the best years of my life lost in captivity
for not listening to family and friends’ voices,
And for making bad choices, lled with personal gain, misplaced blame, shame,
Learning to accept responsibility for my actions,
pain I dealt, and pain I felt.
Who knew I would elevate, educate, stimulate my mind,
Only to nd, years later a hard head makes a soft behind.
Who knew the evolution of me at Soledad would get a GED, AA degree, And through this vocational trade
a National certi cation as a customer service specialist,
a network cable specialist in copper and ber based systems. This ber optic trade has giving me vision
to see a life beyond state blues attire,