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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Short Story

by Ounce of Game

I come from a very cultural Polynesian family.  Our values are the second to third things individuals in my family cherish and or respect.  For me, this also applies, however, I perceive the point of view differently.  I try my best to abide by the rules.  I was taught, but as you can see, I’ve tripped up.

I’m Tongan, Samoan, Japanese and Chinese.  I grew up in various places such as San Francisco, San Mateo, Los Angeles and San Jose.  I mostly have memories in San Mateo, on the east side, in a part called Shoreview.  My memories in San Mateo consist of me being a hooligan.  I was drinking by twelve, smoking by eight.  My experiences with alcohol and drugs were with my older brother. I have one older bother who has me by two years, three younger brothers and one sister who is the youngest.

Yeah, it’d been nice to also have your family like that, huh?  I’ve always been the role model for the family, but I eventually fell off, too.  I was deceived into doing things that weren’t always beneficial to me.  The consequence?  My freedom.

The first crime I ever committed and got caught for was in July, two years ago.  Guess with whom?  Yup, my older brother.  It was my older brother’s wife’s cake day and we celebrated.  Let me tell you, you haven’t drunk until you’ve drunk at a Salvadorian’s house.  Long story short, my older brother’s wife’s father gets out of hand.  I did about a month and got out on the electronic monitor program.  I cut that off, went on the run for about three months.  I got caught and this time got the same things and got the same result.

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A Real Friend

by Dortell Williams

I had never really thought about what a friend was, much less a real friend. But after thinking about it, and having a lot of bad friends as examples, I know exactly what a good friend is supposed to be.

First, bad friends are not really friends at all. There’s no such thing as a bad friend. In reality, there are just good friends and bad people.

Bad people will dare you to do dangerous things you don’t want to do. Bad people will let you be the fall guy (or girl) for things that you didn’t do. Bad people are bad; they get you in trouble, or worse. Bad people try to get you to do things that are bad for you, like smoking or doing drugs, or worse. Bad friends gossip about you, laugh at you and think they’re better than you.

But a friend is someone you can trust. A friend will help you when you’re down; give you good advice and be there for you when you need him. A friend, a real friend will always do good things for you; you can count on a real friend. That doesn’t mean friends won’t make mistakes, they do. But a real friend will forgive and forget; a real friend will apologize and a real friend will keep your secrets until the grave – because most importantly, you can trust a real friend… with your life.

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