Thursday, November 17, 2011

street girl turned into Youth Alive community leader

At certain points in my life I thought of myself as a leader. More often when I was younger and active proposing to the school officials to open up our dream school TCN  (Think College Now). As the only student on the design team I helped a group of parents and educators convince the city of Oakland. It empowered me at age 9.

In 2003 Puberty hit and I no longer focused on grades but instead on good looks and gangsters. I wanted to be bad-ass along with my older brother " G " who was a gang banger terrorizing the city of Oakland once (Now my brother is facing prison time) . At school I lead my classmates I answered every question before our teacher could even finish asking and i would complete my homework before everyone else. But as soon as i would touch my east Oakland block , all of the stuff that I learned in school would fly out of mind.

In Oakland it was cool to "be with the shit" to "not give a fuck" "money over bitches" in my case "money over broke n*iggas" or even to bang our set on foo's. I liked that lifestyle that my brother was living, but then our friends started getting shot and even dying.

Ive been traumatized by violence since I can remember, when i was 12 my brothers little homie " lil guero" who was also my classmate was shot in the stomach with two ak47 assault riffles. My brother said that by the time they carried him into highland hospital "lil guero's" intestines had already fell out of his stomach and he was no longer breathing. He died in a friends hands. Only 12 years old both him and I. This street game started to become a street reality.

2006 came around the corner and already about 10 of my brother and my friends had been murdered. That year in October I almost lost my brother. While leaving a Halloween party on High St in Oakland my brother was shot in the head and then jumped by rival gang members , as i tried to get the perpetrators off of my brother , i took a beat too. I was left on the floor bloody next to my brothers unconscious body. Trauma.

In 2008 I was caught in the crossfire at a light on 98th ave and San Leandro in Oakland Ca. That night i became a direct victim of gun violence taking a near fatal bullet to the face. I woke up medicated, dazed, hands tied to the hospital bed,  jaw less, toothless and a tracheotomy tube stabbed into my throat. Also a with an unfamiliar woman at my bedside. She said she worked for Youth Alive as an intervention specialist and that her name was Tammy Cloud.

Tammy was instrumental to my healing process both physically and mentally, she supported me and gave me faith that i could be normal again, that I could return to be the focused community leader that I once was. I now work with Tammy for Youth Alive as the Violence Prevention Educator. My expertise in gun,gang,family,dating violence makes an impact when connecting and educating the youth. Although the trauma is fresh just as much as the scars are, ive found that I heal through this work. Knowing that I might impact these kids and make them think twice about the consequences, knowing that i can give my experience as a tool for them, knowing that i might prevent a kid from taking those risk's satisfies me in a way that no other can. As long as I am able to I will empower the youth as much as these community leaders empowered me.

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