Growing Up A Target

We have the power to change a situation through positive actions.

Please share this.

I write this because I have love for the hood, and I’m proud to say I grew here, which is why I want to see us doing better.

Street crime happens. Growing up it wasn’t rare seeing people shot or stabbed in beef (street wars). Especially at times when we were emotionally immature and too young to deal with it. It’s a harsh truth out here.

Not everyone has been mugged or had to see real beef; some people would consider being confronted by gang violence a traumatising experience. In the suburbs the reaction is more one where you might repair the situation by getting sympathy from peers and/or calling the police. Living where I live, its probably rarer to have never seen it first hand or been approached.

It’s not safe, especially if you’ve had conflicts in the past. We as a community victimise and target each other: you have to constantly ensure you don’t attract the wrong kind of attention or invite jealousy walking around, so you’re self conscious. You never know when or who’s going to try and harm you.

We need the violence to change. I’m pushed to stand for the safety of our community. I’m finding myself concerned for the future.

We all desire to make an impact – so acting out with beef and illegality in the hood is an example of how we are seeking to make a negative impact just so some kind of impact is made. But we’re worth more than that.

As men we accept the eventuality of facing our battles with strength and resilience, and are open to the growth that brings. It’s natural in life to get in confrontation, so you’re a lot better off learning early how to take punches – both physically and emotionally. Nobody is too tough or bad to go through it.

The first time I was mugged I was like 12. I was playing football with my boys in the local estate where my friend lived. After we finished and were leaving we realised I had left my hat behind, so two of us went back to get it when we found the estate’s known gang was there. There were about 15 guys, all older than we were. At that age we were not street smart, so unaware we just walked through them and kept minding our own business. They stopped us and went to start searching our pockets for what we had. At 12, there wasn’t really much me and my boy could do, but we stayed strong and didn’t get visibly scared or upset.

One of them ended up taking my phone, and for a long time I felt like it was somehow my weakness, like I should’ve fought back or stopped them somehow. I covered it up from my parents and any of my friends that weren’t there on the day. I guess I never told them because it felt embarrassing that someone had challenged and hurt my pride. I don’t regret that it happened, but my reaction at the time was that the incident made me feel abnormal or not tough enough. Truthfully, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Looking back, I’m not proud to say it but what else could we have done? That was the first of about 5 or 6 times facing gangs as a youth.

Don’t let your negative experience break you, be stronger than your circumstance.

You’re worth much more than letting someone take your pride – if you got robbed like I did you’re not a victim. People wanting to have altercations with you is a reflection on them not of you. When I realised my worth, I avoided turning bitter because I understood that letting it make me doubt my strength was a mistake. Being much younger and weaker, it made me a target. Blaming myself wasn’t right: nobody asks to get mugged and nobody is too hard to get in beef. I hope that telling my story encourages you not to let shit stand in your way. You’re not alone.

Do something you never thought you were capable of doing differently. If you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always got.

We’ve all got pain, and when we transfer our pain outwards to others in essence we put more negativity into the world. What you do that causes pain to somebody may in turn cause them to take their hurt out in another way and end up making the hood worse for us.

It sounds corny, but we have power to look at a situation and change it by taking positive actions. I’ve learnt looking at a situation differently helps – it’s so important to keep moving forward even in times of stress and trial. Keeping your head being composed and acting decisively in the face of adversity allows you to get up out of your situation, whatever it is, when it feels like it could break you.

You never know someones story. Living around poverty struggles and hurt, we go through things others don’t. But I know we gain from having experience that others with easier lives may not have. When we’re faced with something scary or intimidating we aren’t as moved. My story is bigger and I’m worth more than allowing negative experiences to feed into and become negative actions. When used in the right way, our pain and struggle is strength.


(rewritten – 26/6/14)


11 comments on “Growing Up A Target

  1. it’s one thing to hear a newscaster/random guy talk about this, but it only becomes real when an actual person who has lived through it decides to make a change and shares it. so thank you.

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