A Moment of Clarity

By Salim Williams

Growing up I always admired older my brother and took after everything he did. When he was in High School I was in Grammar school and yet he allowed me to hang with him and his friends. They showed me the ropes; taking me around the neighborhood and introducing me to people. Some of the people I met were known troublemakers who our parents usually told us to avoid; but parents are parents and ours always seemed to worry about everything. I later found out my brother and his friends were a part of a well known street gang.

I was the only one in my house who seemed to notice a change in my brother’s behavior. He hung out later after school, argued with my father more often and took an awful liking to the color blue. An idol in my eyes, I began to brag to my friends about my brother’s gang affiliation knowing that I would be well respected. I even founded my own gang called “Mad Katz” in which five of my friends and I went through other classmates book bags during lunch time stealing collectible game cards and money. It wasn’t until one of them got caught and snitched on the rest of us did I seem to learn my lesson.

When I arrived in High School the pressures of joining a gang were all around me. Two of the friends I went school and grew up with joined the same gang that favored the color red. When they fought rivals I fought alongside them just as I would as a friend. But I was fighting as an unofficial member of their gang. I knew I didn’t belong, I knew I should have stayed away; but I couldn’t. There was a feeling of camaraderie, a feeling of having someone’s back, a feeling of protection and I wanted to belong.

Two days before I was about to be put on (made a member) I jokingly asked my now older more mature brother, “What if I was to join a gang?” He jokingly replied “come outside let me show you something”. We stepped out onto the front porch and I was immediately thrust into the grass. Without even telling him if I was serious or what gang I was going to join, my brother began to beat the shit out of me. He pummeled me with his fist in every part of my body except my face. Realizing how serious he was, I could do nothing but curl up into ball. He stood over me and said “if you ever join a gang I’ll kill you” in the same breath he said “think about what you have to live for; your little brother and a nephew on the way”. He shook his head and walked away.

In my next year of High School 15 members of the gang I was almost part of approached me and three of my other neutral friends with the intention of taking one of their cell phones. We stood our ground and ended up in the in the hospital with minor bruises and one less cell phone. I was vengeful but after being a witness, a victim and a participant of gang activity I was committed to peace. I want to be able to teach my little brother the same lessons I learned from my older brother and only hope he makes the right decisions.


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