Posts Tagged ‘at-risk youth’

it was once said that education was the true liberator. when i use to hear this as a youngster i use to blow this statement off. growing up was hard in the sense that for some reason it was preached and shown that the more ignorant you are the cooler you were. we have essentially made ignorance a part of our culture. look at the shows that are portrayed on tv, via real tv. if this is a reflection of our society and a representation of what it means to be a successful american than we are way off the mark. even right here guys get caught up in these shows and have all of these dreams and ideas that life is going to be that way for them upon release. it is as if you can not get a slot on tv if you don’t act like a fool or immoral. not one to pass judgment, that is not my thing trust me, but i must say that there has to be a concern as to what it is that is we are teaching each other, this is not a younger generation problem but one that transcends all cultures, races and age groups, ignorance.

people ask me all the time how did i do so much time. and at what point did i have a paradigm shift in the way that i thought and acted. there were many factors that took place but the most liberating thing that happened to me was that i became educated. see that doesn’t mean knowing everything or having a degree etc. what that means is that you decide to become educated in the role that you have to play in life. this role is different with every individual.

incarceration can come in various forms and the worse form is to be incarcerated mentally. which is to imprison yourself. see i am here in prison physically and have been for 20 years but i have been all across the world and back many times. to liberate your mind from bondage is the most liberating thing that one can do for him/ herself. and that is achieved by way of education.

how and when did it happen for me? i recall the time and the moment clearly. i was in a supermax prison where we were locked down 23 hours a day and 1 out the cells to bathe and use the phone. i stay here for over a year. the first week i slept as i didn’t know how long i was going to be there. during this time i began to really ask myself what did i want out of life and what was i going to do with my life if i ever got out of prison. after a while i could not sleep any more. i was tired of sleeping. if i wasn’t sleeping i was working out, fueling the anger that i had built up in me. i was up to about 2500 push ups and sit ups. i would do sets of 100 until i was exhausted. i got tired of doing that. i got word that my stay was going to be extended and indefinite. what a blow!! it was at this time that i asked myself what the hell does it mean to be free. and how in the hell can i be in prison and further in prison, the hole!! i knew that there was one thing left and that was to become liberated by way of education. i had get something that they could not take from me. and that was whatever i stored in my brain and heart!! so i started to read! i read one book after another! not only did i read but i analyzed the stuff that i read. i started to learn arabic and eventually became fluent. but the thirst to be liberated was not quenched and i had to give in to that urge to learn so i learned spanish, which i am fluent in that as well. so that is another half of the world that i have been exposed to! this has changed my world view a great deal, speaking foreign languages.

so what is the point in all of this. as we talk about change and what can be done to facilitate it. EDUCATION!! this is where it starts and it is a LIBERATOR!!

yes i truly believe that one has to be educated to be liberated. see yes i have been physically in bondage for many years now but it is nothing compared to those who are trapped within other types of bondages. those that may have mental health issues, addiction issues, ecomincal issues etc. there are others that i consider to be far worse than i am. yet the one thing that can free a person is education about the issues that are holding them back from not enjoying life, or is contributing to a poor quality of life.

one of the jobs that i have here is i am spanish G.E.D tutor and i see the regret on many guys faces as they struggle to read basic sentences or do basic math. the a big regret that they have is that they didn’t learn how to do this when they were younger. but that is not the biggest. the biggest regret is the reality that there are not that many options for those how can not read and write out there in the world and that at minimum a G.E.D is needed to gain meaningful employeement. and as that sink in the reality is that the only option that they have leads them back to the seat that they occupy now. crime and that life, to those who have no education, seems to be the only option that they have and accept.

so it is safe to say that without education the road is going to be harder than what one may think right now. if there was one thing that i could tell anyone today, old/young, black/white, male /female,rich or poor, would be to never underestimate to power of what it is and means to be educated! everything that exist around you from the computers that you use to the cars that you drive to the prison cell that i occupy for now was designed by way of someone who was educated in that field of study. for the good or the bad education is the key. to be able to fly from the east coast to the west coast is a luxuary that many enjoy. can you imagine life without airplanes and the other modes of transportation that we enjoy. a friend of mine was telling me about a train that runs from upstate ny to nyc in little to no time. we are talking hours from nyc. i couldn’t imagine that because when i left that didn’t exist, but someone had the insight to do that and i sure that someone profited along the way.

so my point is i would tell everyone to not underestimate the power of education and to seek all ways to become better educated, in all areas of ones life. this will increase one quality of life and make life more enjoyable and easier. to the youth i would say that the are building prison at a rapid pace and what you may not know, because of lack of education, is that they get the estimate numbers to build prisons based on the number of kids drop out of school. so for every kid that drop out of school they build a cell for him/her. it seems to be the common thought that if you can not think for yourself we will put you were somewhere else will think for you and tell you what to do. NOW HOW IS THAT FOR EDUCATION!!