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Often there are times in our lives when you just need a different perspective, when you just need to look at things from a different angle.  As teenagers and young adults, you tend to see the world one way, not a character flaw, just a developmental process everyone goes through.  You forget that there is more than what is right in front of your face.  The essays written by the guests authors are about looking at things from a different perspective, and as always, another way for you to Dream Big & Live Big!

“You vs U”-Leselie McDonald

You’ll Be the Only One Keeping it Real-Prisoner Correspondent

What Me?-Leselie McDonald

We Are What We Repeatedly Do-Ricardo Ferrell

S.T.E.M-Antoine N.Jackson

T.A.B-Ricardo Ferrell

Get in the Game-Antoine N. Jackson

You’re Being Set Up

By, Shawn Harris

You are being tricked, trained & taught, enticed, lured encouraged & persuaded to call yourself a thug.  To refer to yourself as a Gorilla, Goon, Goblin, Beast, an Animal, Nigga, a Bad Ass, Nazi, Hard Head, Skin Head, a Dog, Hustler, Pusher, a Pimp, Loco, Looney, Cut Throat, Ruthless, Nightmare, Mack, Gangster, Killer, Jacker, Murderer, Gang banger, Home Invader, Cold Blooded, Heavy Hitter, Monster, Boogie Man, Rebel, Maniac, Psycho, Grimy, Hood, Street, Trash, Rough Neck, Redneck, Lowlife, etc.  In your mind these names define how rough, tough, rugged & raw you are.  To you these names are subhuman and beastlike.  They lack sophistication, intelligence, and compassion.  These names make you a target.  You’re being set up.  Nobody cares for the Monster when he lies bleeding in the street.  Nobody cares for the bloody Beast lying dead on the curb.  It’s just road kill.  You’re being set up to be killed in crack houses.  You’re being set up to be massacred in make shift meth labs.  You’re being dehumanized.  You’re being set up to be legally slaughtered in courtrooms, set up to be caged like wild animals you call yourselves.  Lawyers won’t help you, judges have no mercy.  Police officers are killing you, and the public doesn’t understand you.  Animals don’t speak English.  Goons & Monsters don’t talk.  The professionals don’t understand you.  You don’t speak the language of the stockbrokers.  You don’t speak the language of the doctors, the deans, and the professors.  The colleges and the credit unions are afraid of you.  The people, the citizens find you menacing.  This means you’ve been set up to be seen as a menace to society.  You’re being set up to be mistreated, to be thrown away, cast away in prison or a grave.  So find a new name, a new title to call yourself, something that refers to and describes a human being.  Not an animal.  Because electrical or mechanical engineers aren’t being gunned down in the streets.  Automotive or computer technicians aren’t rotting away in jail.  Welders and carpenters aren’t thrown to the grave at a young age.  Pipe fitters, plumbers, and architects aren’t running from the police every day.  So call yourself a Man, a Father, Son, Brother, Friend, and Husband.  Call yourself a child of God.  Define yourself as creative, kind, mature, sophisticated, compassionate, cerebral, strong, loving, unselfish, honest, honorable, even tempered, fair dealing, respectful, and loyal.  Be human.  Don’t be a Beast.  Don’t become the walking dead.  You’re being set up to fail, set up to hate yourself.  You’re being set up to see yourself as something broken and filthy.  You’re being set up to see yourself as some “thing” instead of “someone.”  You’re being tricked and encouraged to call yourself the worst names unimaginable.  Please see your brilliance.  Recognize your uniqueness and beauty.  Be more than a Thug, more than a Goon, more than a Beast.  Be more than a Maniac, more than a Rebel.  Don’t degrade yourself.  You don’t have to be the Monster.  You don’t have to act like the Animal.  You don’t deserve to be trapped like an animal.  Don’t go for the set up!