by Rashaan Thomas
I could have been Bill Gates. Well, I could have been a half Black and half Puerto Rican CEO of a software company the size of Microsoft or bigger. Bill Gates could have worked for me. Instead, I let hatred turn me into a killer.
You see, my mother saw the future was computers. In the early eighties, she enrolled me in basic programming courses while I was still in high school. She also purchased the Commodore 64 computer. I put it to use programming and selling bootleg video games.
Then my little brother got shot. It happened right before my eyes and I ran as bullets chased me. I wanted revenge and I got it, but it set me on a path to becoming a convicted murderer. “The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less,” wrote Eldridge Cleaver in his book Soul on Ice. I didn’t understand what that meant back then. I felt the opposite way. I thought that I couldn’t love myself if I let someone get away with harming a family member. However, now I know exactly what Cleaver means.
In taking revenge over and over, I threw away my own freedom. The price of revenge has been subjugating myself to the inhumane treatment of the system. In order to get some get back, I became someone I don’t want to be – I became a “lifer.” Hating my enemies has made me love
myself less and no one is worth that. I hated police ‘cause they want to gun me down, leave me dead in the gravel. I hated judges; they hammer my rights with the ends of their gavels. Then I became what I hated, I gunned him down and left him on the gravel.
At the same time, I hammered his son’s right to a father with the end of a barrel.
Hatred had me raising that gun, when I should have been raising my son. Life imprisonment, I left my son without his father to guide him to shore and something I love myself less for.