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Your Life Has Value

by Christian Bost

What I’m about to tell you is not a story, but rather a reality of my life. The reality is that I was seventeen years old, tried as an adult, and fighting for my life, praying to God that I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life in prison for murder.

I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles, CA. I was raised in a household with just my mom and four brothers. My dad wasn’t around because, when I was just three years old, while he was locked up in his cell, his cellie decided to murder my dad.

So, growing up without my father always left this emptiness in my heart. My mom always worked hard to provide a roof over my head, but there was one thing that I felt she didn’t provide: unconditional love. It was the emotional support that I desperately needed. I would always do things to get her attention; usually to get her attention was to act up, and ultimately getting jumped into my gang. That sure got her attention. read more

Success Requirements

by Sergio

I believe that in order to succeed I need love from my family and support from my peers and friends. It is very important that I have my freedom, so I will abstain from being sent to correctional facilities.  I need an education and I need to work hard in order to be successful.  The most important thing I need is to be happy, for I cannot be successful if I am not happy.  In order for me to be happy, I need to be with the people I care about and I need to do the things I like.  In the future, I need to make sure the things I do are positive so I do not end up in here again.

There is nothing I want more than my freedom and to be with my family.  Those things would push me toward success.  I also require to be more patient and calmer.  I also need to think my actions out more thoroughly and be careful with whom I associate. I must make sure that I take the correct path toward success and a better life. read more

Juvenile Emancipation

by Brandon Martinez

Looking back over this ole life, a young buck adolescent, sitting there in front of a judge quite perplexed of my hearing being conducted for emancipation, often throughout the proceedings I was a bit baffled. As a teen, I lacked the intellectual ability to comprehend the magnitude for his decision to be rendered. Although factors were taken into account by the judge at his discretion, perhaps I should have provided some input, certainly the task was exclusively delegated to him, with such an imperative crucial decision at stake. To not object by advocating on my own volition was a mistake, I can’t change the past of what transpired that day.

What I can do is convey to you that if you ever encounter this predicament as a youngster, please make the proper decision in your best interest. See the broad picture of life. For certainly there’ll be fallout as a result of you being granted emancipation. Absolutely, to some extent for the time being in the moment it will appear you’ll lap in the luxury of freedom with the yoke of the parental reign dismantled. read more

Skulls

by Saul

Why am I always drawing skulls? Maybe it’s because I’m super grateful to have one, and whenever I feel like I don’t have anything I remember I have a skull and I can feel my bones dancing according to the beat of the ground. Oh it feels round, and now that time has come I can finally accept myself for what I stand for.

I love music, good graces to you and everyone reading this. I love you, don’t forget that.

And if you’re ever alone and forget, remember you got a skull, remember you’re alive, and remember their blood naming water and moving ground, hear that sound.

We’re all learning to be something, someone better. We’re all growing to live, to love. Now tell me, can you see, can you feel the way you used to be as a young child, or when you’re riding on this infinite road mile after mile? We’re all getting there. When, who knows but let’s keep on trying though, because if we don’t, then what are we, who and what exactly? read more

Dear Youth

by Ernesto Rodriguez

I wanted to take the time to write to you about the importance of relationships. You see, relationships do not only mean the kind we have with an intimate special someone, but the kind of relationships that pick you back up in life when you fall.

You see, in life, we have the illusion that the friendships we build with homeboys or the homegirls are everything. We believe that if we are accepted and build up our reputation in our hood, in our street, that somehow it will erase or blot out the heavy and painful things we go through in the darkness of our lives. In the darkness we are born to. Some of us go through things that may traumatize us and make us feel vulnerable in a way that we turn to aggression and violence to mask the insecure thoughts and feelings those experiences may haunt us with. We may grow up seeing our mothers beat mercilessly, we may see our little sisters struggle psychologically because they experienced sexual molestation or rape, we may grow up in poverty that never allows to develop some kind of stability in our lives and therefore become apathetic towards others… So why should we nurture the kind of relationships that promote the very things we are trying to escape and hide from? Yes, the gang life, the street life and the homegirls/homeboys only represent the very things we are ashamed of. We tell ourselves a lie that because we are brave enough to defend our neighborhoods through gang violence, that somehow we are brave enough to carry the vulnerable secrets in our hearts that we want no one to know about. That somehow, we are being aggressive, not to the human beings we are hurting in the process of our internal struggle, but to the monsters that took our innocence during our vulnerable stage of childhood. read more

Growth

by JuJu

It is your duty to free your mind. If your mind is not free, you’ll never win. Not mentally. Your mind will be locked in chains. The love and support of others may help but truly only you can free yourself. It takes time, practice, and learning. But if you keep a positive mindset you’ll get through it.

You must understand that everything you’re going through is temporary. It’s all a test but only you decide if you pass or fail. This chapter in your life is called growth, and it’s up to you whether you reach a hard word and quit the book, or overcome that obstacle and move to the next chapter.

As Assata Shakur said, “It is out duty to ght for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”