"Still I Rise"

Being a teenager growing up in the inner city of Boston I have seen violence everyday and I always expected it to get better. It was February 14, 2004, when all that I ever knew changed right before my eyes. I had just finished carrying boxes from my mother's red minivan, when I saw my friend, Shawn Adams, running down the street screaming. He fell to the ground, so I ran over to him. He had been stabbed several times in his chest; he was struggling to breath, and could barely talk. He said, "Go get help, and tell my mom I am sorry. I am sorry.” At that moment, the boys he was with, and had all ran away when the incident occurred, finally caught up with him. Someone must have called the police because they arrived at the same time as well. When the ambulance pulled up, they put Shawn on the stretcher to take him to the hospital. Shawn started to shake and fell off the stretcher to the ground. He was dead.

Shawn had been stabbed in his chest nine times because of where he lived and the people he was with. Shawn was a victim of neighborhood vs. neighborhood crime. He was off to the movies with a group of friends to celebrate Valentine’s Day. As he and his friend were waiting for the bus, a gang of teens from Madison Park projects approached him. They ran up to him and his friends and asked them where they were from. Before anyone could answer, an unknown assailant pulled out a knife and stabbed the person closest to him, Shawn.

That very moment changed my life forever. It was wake up call, telling me, "Symphony, everything in the world isn't what it seems.” That realization is something it takes people years to understand and I had already discovered it at the age of 13. This reality was all to evident when a week after Shawn’s funeral the unknown assailant was identified. It was Brandon, my God-brother.

After these events like these, I walked down the halls of my high school, forcing myself to keep my head up and to make sure no one knew that there was something wrong. Despite all that has happened, I forced a smile upon my face on the outside but deep down inside I was really dying.

During the weekend of October 5th there was a massacre in my community. Every day one of my peers was brutally killed. My friend Steven was shot and killed at the age 13. My friend Shawndell who was 19 was also shot and killed. My friend Janine who was 18 was killed in a car accident returning from a party.

When I came to school that following Monday, I carried a great burden on my shoulders. I just couldn't bear to hide my feelings anymore; I had to let them out. When I got to class that afternoon a few of my peers, who were suffering from the same traumas decided to talk about all that had happened. The idea of being open with others and having no barriers was a very different feeling then I was used to. I would normally keep my feelings inside and not express to anyone the pain I was feeling. I had the opportunity to share the way I felt with a class, mostly made up of my classmates who knew little about what I had to go through on a daily basis. It felt weird at first to be so open. As I began to speak, it became a learning experience and I became the teacher. I had the opportunity to teach and share my feelings with students who did not look like me nor come from the neighborhood that I was from. As the conversation continued, I felt a feeling of relief. Finally, after 6 years in Weston, my classmates understood me (or at least a little bit more about me).

Despite the horrible traumas I have witnessed over the years, it has not brought me down to the point of despair. I have tried to push all that negative stuff aside and focus on my future. Being one of the first people in my family to go to college, I can create a legacy for future generations. I want to teach them to have dreams and goals bigger than just high school. Sharing my thoughts about my tragic weekend took a great burden off my shoulders. Carrying those traumas and the ones I have tried to deal with before did not make talking about it any easier. However, when I did, I was finally able to release some of my emotions.

I have seen it all from gunshots through my window, dead bodies right before my eyes, mothers crying tears because their children will never arrive home, smart kids turn to hardcore killers, etc. and most of this because of where they call home. Well their home is my home. Of course, I relive these incidents but I always refer back to my original plans of success, determination, and self worth. I may have truly seen it all - but still, I rise. I rise!