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.”

Nightmares

by Trapped

I wonder what they’re all about? You know. Those nightmares, man. I had one last night. I was trapped in a cage. I was a wolf with blue eyes. I had blood on my fur, scars on my skin, those scars of guilt in my heart. On my heart. I wish it would all stop. I ask God to come into my heart. I say: “Please, God, will you help my mom and my heart? I can’t take it anymore.”

I walk around with a smile while deep down I want to cry. I want these nightmares to end. Until then, I will be in my room trying to ght my wars. I’ve managed to stay away from the killers – you know, drugs, weed, cancer sticks – but I’m trapped, clawing at the door, barking, “Help me, please.”