I really don't know what I hoped to truly accomplish in making this video or post. I just felt that I had to do something to externalize all these feelings and thoughts that I've been dealing with inside my head for all these years. I wish that I could better organize my thoughts to write something more impactful, but this is the best I can do for now.
I grew up in the community of Mar Vista, a small suburban neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles county. I loved living there; Mar Vista is overall a great place to live and a great place to grow up. But, there are unfortunately dark pockets that exist within what would otherwise be the perfect place.
In the neighborhood I grew up in, the gang lifestyle is sometimes simply part of the area's culture, and it's all too easy for a young person to get pulled into the mix. Thankfully, I had my music and the local youth center to keep me off the streets, but not all kids living in Mar Vista are that lucky.
I honestly don't know why anyone chooses to join a gang. Some people say that members join because they desire to prove their own worth; others say members join out of fear; and still others say that members join because they want to feel that they simply belong. Whatever their reasons, once they're in, they're locked into a lifetime of danger and destruction.
It deeply saddens me whenever I hear that one of my fellow youth center members has joined a gang. It makes me angry that some of the kids in my home town simply do not have access opportunities for a better future -- or worse: they just don't want a better future. It makes me furious that some kids in my neighborhood don't even know what a college or university is, nor do they even desire to attend.
My friends weren't gangsters, but gangsters murdered my friends. Even after two years, accepting this fact is extremely painful and difficult. But, I am truly exhausted from being angry of sad. I want to use my energy now for something better. Maybe that's why I made this video: I wanted to make something that might help make a difference.
Even if it ends up making even the smallest of differences, it'll be energy well spent.