Archive for September, 2014

StraightDope sampler

Straight Dope: The Sampler – a collection of interviews, stories, and poems from the critically acclaimed book, “Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into American drug culture. It is free on Amazon.com from 09/16/2014 to 09/20/2014.

Download NOW!!!!

Recently, I was given a chance to speak with Brother Ron of We All Be radio, an awesome pod cast. We talk about the origins of Straight Dope, drug use, and the governments involvement, as well as Ferguson and domestic violence. Tune in!

Why I decided to become a Big Brother

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Big brother

 

 

My Mother had always told me when I was younger, “If you’re not helping out, then you are not doing anything,” and that had stuck with me for a long time. From volunteering in soup kitchens, tutoring people in computer classes, and various HIV/AIDS awareness charities, I have always tried to be involved. Helping out and giving back has always been ingrained in me and my family. I would see times were my Mother would cook food and give to relatives and friends that were without and even lend money to folks. We just helped. While that was great, deep down I always wanted to be a mentor.

Growing up, I did not meet my father until I was 13, so that had a profound effect on me. It caused me to gravitate towards older males that would eventually become my mentors. There would be times that I would call my former high-school writing teacher Stan Banks for advice on writing, which then led to women, traveling and life. People like Mr. Banks (after 18 years, I still call him that) as well as my Grandfather helped mold me into the person that I am today, and I wanted to be that person to a young guy.

When I first told my girlfriend that I wanted to be a big brother, she had suggested M, a friends son. Like me, he had grew up mostly without his father in his life and was being raised by single mother. I was immediately interested because I knew first hand how important an older male figure would be in his life.  When we first met, I was a little nervous. I did not know what to expect. Would he like me? Am I cool enough (Ha!)? Would we click? So before I met him, I brought over Thai food to kind of smooth things over (Hey, who doesn’t like Thai?) and make things  a bit easier. Our first “play date” was over burgers and fries. We talked about what he was into (video games, sports, girls), how is school (kinda sucked), and how he got along with his Mother. It was kind of a feeling out session and it went well. Later visits we would work out in the gym and I would be a sounding board for anything that was troubling him.  My whole thing I thought I needed to be  was to be a strong role model in his life. I needed to toughen him up because in this world, you could not be soft.

Where I come from you had to be darn near be an animal to survive. Many of the weak became addicts, the abused, victims of the street or they realized this code of the ghetto:  there are two types of people in that environment – those who carry the stick and those that do not, and so they became even more aggressive, even bullying others. It was a sick cycle that still to this day goes on and on. I said to myself, “There is no way that M would be victim to this, not when I am in his life.”

Recently, a friend and I were having a heated argument about why kids needed to stop crying, stand up for themselves, and stop taking crap. My friend had mentioned a little boy that she works with and described him as “tender.” She said that he was sweet, but lacking the toughness needed. I mocked the little boy and said that he needed to be hard to make it in this world and would not survive. Later as I was writing, I thought about the little boy. I paused and darn near cried. The theories about him needing to be tough were complete crap. Why couldn’t he be tender and soft? Lighthearted? How come he couldn’t be himself and be accepted? And that is when I realized that not only was projecting my fears on M, but also not accepting why I took that stance. Fear can be a powerful motivator to do many ignorant things.

 

A couple weeks ago I watched a movie called,  “Jamesy Boy,” about  young man caught in a downward spiral of crime.  Now with the occasional scrap and minor drug use, our lives were really different, but there was something that connected me to James. I believe that it was how we both came up under a single mother, the temptation of the street and fast money, and trying to find who we are and our purpose in life. In a critical scene in the movie, a bunch of convicts had been telling James that the rivals had been talking disrespectful about him, and asked what would he do about it? James scoffed it off and replied, “So what?” I thought about when I made the decision to live my life the way I wanted to, and realized that was the lesson I would pass onto M. “Forget about what other people thought and said about you. Be yourself.”

Today our visits are a bit lighter. We joke more and I have realized that he is just as goofy as me.  I am not trying to mold him into someone he is not. He is not from Southside Kansas City, M lives in San Francisco. He doesn’t have to “survive.” My number one role in his life is not to be another father or guardian, but someone that encourages M to be who he wants to be. I am just being a friend that listens, and that’s what he needs.