Sometimes things occur in my life which wage emotional warfare on my soul, but running away is no longer an option for me.
I used to run away before I had an opportunity to fail so that I could claim that I did not want the thing that I was fighting so hard to achieve. One good example is that I dropped out of high school because I was failing and I did not want anyone to know. So I pretended as if, it was not something that I wanted to achieve in the first place. In fact, there was nothing I wanted more at the time but I let my pride get in the way of my asking for help.
I did not know at the time that the reason I was failing was not my fault at all. When I was seven years old I suffered from a massive brain injury that has affected my ability to concentrate for long periods of time especially, when I sit down to read a technical textbook. I thought that there was some failing in me, something that I chose and that was not the case at all; I just needed to learn a new way to read.
I am still dealing with the same thing today. Of course, I am no longer in high school, I am a senior at the University of Washington and my reading load is anywhere from 700 to 1500 page a week. That is a lot to attempt to hold on to, by itself. It is also as crazy load to attempt to stay focused through.
I contemplated giving up. I even pulled back from everyone and cut off nearly all my ties to the world because I was about a hair’s length from doing just that. And right as I was about to throw the towel in and call it quits, something very strange happened; I sat down and listened to all the music I have created over the last couple of years.
I made that music as part of the Rappers Equal Nerds project to teach young and indigent minorities how to be successful maneuvering through a system designed to make us fail. I learned from the time I spent in a recovery program (the major factor in my not being in prison or worse, dead, today) and the principle manner that confidence is built between two people is by showing the other person that I have been in exactly the same place that they are. Until such an understanding is reached there is no way to bridge the chasm of trust that is requisite for the person to believe what I have to say about how to get out of the mire they are in. They have to believe that I have escaped the troubles and circumstance that they are confronting. I used this method in my music when I began constructing the songs for Rappers Equal Nerds and this is the message that I hear.
I forgot how far I have come and even where I came from. I forgot that I should not be free, let alone alive to be suffering in college. I forgot that I have been fighting tooth and nail for years, with many successes through seemingly insurmountable circumstances to get where I am today. I forgot that I graduated from North Seattle College with honors and was their valedictorian in 2013. I forgot that UW was the only university that I ever, truly wanted to attend and that, by rights, at best, I should be in prison not where I am today. The statistics show that 3/4 of adult African Males are or have spent time in prison so, just by not being in prison I am a success story.
I am doing this for much more than just myself, I am doing this for every indigent minority or stratified and marginalized person who hopes to rise above the circumstances that have been set before him or her like prison bars. And it is true that I am struggling right now. It is true that I am failing three of the four classes that I am taking. However, it is also true that I am working harder and learning more than I ever have in my entire life. I also know that the greatest success come from the greatest falls. That I, we, learn the so much more from failures than from success. Moreover, I know the outcome of giving up because I have been down that road before.
How can I help anyone when they struggle through college if I have not struggled myself? And if I hide the fact that I am struggling because of my pride, then how will I ever find the strength to overcome my hardships. No, I am not giving up, nor will I ever give up ever again. If I fall, if I fail these classes, then I will just get back up, trudge right back into the ring, and give it my all.
Quitting is not an option, no matter how much that seems like the easy way out. That is a lie and I know it.