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by Michael Mackey
Yes, I’ve been in many group homes and foster homes. I’m surprised I’m not the poster child for the foster system. I was rst placed in the foster system when I was seven years old. My twin sister, Michelle, and two younger brothers, Johnnie and John Earl were also with me.
My uncles and aunties made the decision to place us in the foster system. I’m not sure if our granny was a part of that, but I think she knew.
The only person who asked if we wanted or needed anything was the case worker who was assigned to us, and a few staff members as well. I didn’t think it was fair being placed in the system because at a young age, I thought it was our family’s responsibility to work things out and to help one another.
What was it like to be separated from our family and all that we knew? It was life changing, gruesome, hurtful. I felt purely retaliatory toward the whole world and the cards I was dealt. What I missed the most was being a whole family, feeling complete, being with my parents through good times and bad ones, family support.
I’m an emotional wreck. Crying is my only good coping skill, not having a mother to cry on or a father I can run to. My sister is gone with the wind. My brother is gone with my freedom. As I stare at my public place of punishment, punishment is my only hope for freedom. Being a highly sophisticated, intelligent, emotionally mature, lonely, and ripped up failure. I see what I have become and it’s not exactly helping my emotions.
My mother went to a better place when I was 12 and I got separated from my lovely twin, Paradise.
My name stares at me as I write this paper but the only thing I see is the words failure, and as I stare back at the name Bre’Ann I feel the salty sting of tears come.
by Son Nguyen
Our perceptions tend to change as we get older. When I rst got locked up in county jail, everyone pretty much knew I was going to be behind bars for a while because of the crime I committed.
Those who had more experience with being in the system advised me to “Do the time, don’t let the time do you.” I took this to mean Man Up and not let the system break me no matter what happens.
So when I came to prison with a life sentence I went along with what I was taught. Follow the prison code. Don’t associate with other races, act tough, stop caring, and show no fear.
That kind of teaching and mentality is used to separate people. It breeds mistrust and hatred.
It wasn’t until 10 years later when I was in the hole that I realize I got it completely wrong. I wasn’t doing time at all but I was letting it do me. I fell for the lies that are continually passed down to new individuals that enter the system. I had let prison turn me into someone I’m not. I saw that I had become institutionalized.
I as a person have a lot of concerns. I will talk about a couple of them, but keep in mind they are just concerns, not beliefs.
I feel like a failure. My anger has removed myself and my family from home to home since I was young, but I fought it and conquered it. But when one big problem goes another takes its place.
Drug addiction; right now it feels unbeatable. Every ber of me wants them to make me happy, to nd a purpose. It takes me and wraps its warm arms around me. Now that my family can’t help me, I am lled with dread. My friends look to me as a plug, “Can you get me thing?”, “Can you get me that?” and it lls me with a false sense of purpose.
Because of drugs I don’t have an education and I lived on the streets for the better part of two years. I started with weed, soon it wasn’t enough. It turned into acid, mushrooms, and then molly next, which I stuck with for like 2 years. Soon after that it turned to meth and it became my life for about 5 months. Now I am here, in juvie. I am afraid that the cycle will continue.
by Melvin Jones
With a correct understanding you will know that what you “feel” and “think” is your greatest opposition is truly… your greatest opportunity. The unpredictable highs and lows of life at times can feel as if you’re riding a roller coaster. Yet, never fear, because at your darkest hour is that magical/mystical moment when everything is primed to see the impossible occur, the miracle happen, and all your perceived doom and gloom be turned completely around. The choice will always remain within us. So, the question is, “What will you decide?”
Every time I read from the young writers of The Beat Within I am more energized than ever. Despite all the lies and ignorance spread about the youth of the ghetto, the world, one fact remains true… they are loved and important. Yet, greatest of all, they have the ability within to change the world for the better.
There isn’t much that I can do when I’m locked up. The system is messed up so if they want to point their ngers at you it’s because they got no one else to blame.
We come to realize the things that really matter in life because of all the time we got on our hands, we don’t realize it when we’re out on those streets because of all the mind games people play on us youngsters. And there are all kinds of other distractions just by trying to survive the life we gangbangers choose to take. It’s just a day by day life and we don’t know when we can lose our life on the streets or get caught slippin’ by the Gang Task Force and wind up here.
There’s plenty of people who act like they don’t care, but everyone has their people or things that they care about. Nobody wants to be locked up their whole life. Just these short times being in and out of the hall brings me closer to my family but the reason why I come back is because my mentality doesn’t change and I didn’t face the reality until being locked up this time.