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Imagine coming from a neighborhood in which the only thing that is promised is death. I lost one of my closest friends a few months ago to gun violence. Witnessing this horror changed my perspective: I want to have a successful life. Killings and robberies were normalized in the area I was raised in; my peers harm each other every day as if they are playing a video game. I dislike having to see an African American gunned down by another. Black males in my community live their lives worrying whether they’ll make it to see tomorrow not only because they think they’ll get sick or die in their sleep, but because they cogitate murder in such a dangerous community.
A common perspective in my neighborhood is that if you do not attend college after high school, you are most likely to be gunned down, strung out on drugs, or incarcerated. I refuse to live that type of lifestyle. I would not say that I hate the place that I was raised, but as a substitute I would make it a better place by adding more resources, removing more teens from the streets, passing laws to outlaw the sale of guns, and infuse the schools with more funding and resources to raise the graduation rates. It would also be an improvement if we were to have more grocery stores than liquor stores.
Although I was accustomed to the turmoil that evolved in my neighborhood, I continued to practice my survival skills in this world of uncertainty. In this tumultuous environment I had my mother to lead the way for my siblings and me. My mother’s resilience influenced me to be a person who can overcome just about any situation that may arise. Considering that my mom was a single parent of three kids, she still managed to work hard. At times we had to stretch our meals in order to survive because her checks barely lasted the whole month. I was inspired by the fact that my mother always wanted us to know that there is nothing to worry about because she always tried her best to keep our lives in order. I’ve grown to appreciate more where I came from and the life I live by remembering how I overcome the hardships with a big smile on my face. I also continue to be grateful for having my mother in my life. As I learned about my mother’s childhood, I noticed the commonalities we both shared; it has made me work even harder to show her that anyone can accomplish their dream as long as they do not giving up and give in to the overwhelming pressures of an imperfect external world. Overall, she and her life experiences encouraged me to go to school, and do the best I can. She has always given me the support she didn’t have, and I appreciate her admirable parenting.
Though some children have been raised in wealthy neighborhoods, with wealthy parents, houses with three-car garages, and white picket fences that border their estates, I come from an area deprived of these things. Waking up not having the primary resources that one needs to thrive is difficult because basic resources are necessary in order to live a successful life. When I look beyond this view, I step into a world of competition. People from multiple backgrounds surround me; we all have the same hunger and drive to succeed. What distinguishes me from other people in my community is my motivation to learn and grow and my active involvement in the community. From these life experiences, I have learned the importance of speaking up for oneself and of not taking anything for granted.
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