The Good Fight; Learning to Hang in the Ring

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The injustice of my youth, feeling profiled and picked on but being caught up in bad trouble.

Elementary school was academically very uninteresting for me. I was very smart and intelligent and the work was very easy for me. And at home it was just me and my mom, so I would have fun in school messing around. While having a lot of fun in school my grades were always in the top 5 of the class. Me and my mom asked the teacher for a recommendation for gifted learning classes. But my teacher did not go through with our needs, because I used to act out. When I was younger I was a knucklehead. I was skipping school, getting in trouble, trying to make money, and etc. I was pretty known around the Prince William County Police Department for stealing bikes. I was getting caught up in a lot of trouble that was simply just me being a knucklehead. This is all just bad trouble. Me getting into trouble for no reason.  I had the perception of getting into trouble because that’s what everyone seemed to tell me I was; a troublemaker.  I think young people need positive mentors to encourage them or they will begin to feel targeted by authority.  Authority will become trouble for them rather than a pathway for growth.

One of the experiences I remember clearly when I was 12 is the time that my inhaler was mistaken for a weapon.   I have asthma and I always used to carry my inhaler in my right pocket.  I was coming back from playing football at a middle school near my house.  It was about 2:30 PM.  I  felt like I was profiled as a suspect with mistaken identity.  Police followed me from an apartment complex and stopped me because I was cutting through shortcuts.  It may have looked like I was dodging them.  I may have looked older.  I may have looked like I was associated with a gang because of my hoodie and my colors.  Where I used to live was a place of a lot of gang activity.  I knew people, but was never really caught up in it myself. 

 First they rolled down their windows.  Then they asked me where are you coming from.   Then I told them football and the Middle School and they questioned why I was wearing a black hoodie.  Apparently something had happened at one of the apartment complexes.  They came out of the car and said we need to talk to you.  I kept walking because I felt like there was no reason for them to stop me.  They put me on the ground and cuffed me.  They called in on the radio and said they had a suspect.  I had no ID.  I called my mom and she came to pick me up.   She also verified my ID.  Nothing really happened in the end but they did think my inhaler was a gun and he took out his gun.   This really left a strong impression on me about police officers and authority.  It took me a while to change my negative view. 

Authority:The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. The right or legal use of power.  Jurisdiction.

Police Profiling: a method used during a criminal investigation that allows law enforcement to identify a likely suspect through offender profiling. Then, they can analyze patterns that could predict future victims or offenses. This type of police profiling is used to locate a potential criminal and arrest them. It involves complex social and psychological assessments from experts.

Awareness: knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.

Learning Balance; the education to fight the good fight

 I grew up a muslim kid with no father figure and the only child. I remember walking into the mosque and in our culture the men go to the men’s section with their son’s and the women go with their daughter’s on the women’s side. As a young kid without a father walking into the men’s side of the mosque alone felt weird, like I was an alien. All the older guy’s praying would always ask me where’s your dad or who’s your dad. I would tell them he doesn’t live with me. Then they would ask “do you have any brothers or sisters?”, I would tell them no. It was like how I grew up was unheard of to them especially being Muslim. My mother always tried to get me into mosque activities or afterschool activities, but I liked making money, shoes, boxing, and hanging out. I didn’t really feel anything by going to the mosque. My mom would always say “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders”. My grandmother used to help raise me when my mom would go to work, my grandmother was kind of like my father figure. She was very religious, but liberal at the same time. She didn’t wear a hijab but she prayed five times a day, she used to work a lot in her free time, and she raised 3 daughters by herself when my granddad passed away when my mom was 13 from a heart attack in Pakistan.   In a way as I think about it now, she was the champion in the ring.

I was pretty academically always on point in school but always got into trouble. 1 particular day when I was in the 2nd grade on the bus ride home from school a student that I didn’t like asked me a question. The reason I didn’t like this kid was because I felt like he was just very judgemental on what I wore and everything else. And one day he kept asking me “where’s’ your dad? Why hasn’t he ever come on the field trip?”  I was getting very annoyed, but kept my cool. Then he asked again where’s your dad and I finally replied that he’s not with me. My parents were divorced. Then he said “Is your mom lazy why would your dad leave you guys” I then blacked out and socked him in his jaw. The next day the student’s parent’s kept pushing to press charges, but the school and his parents came to an agreement. I then had to transfer to an elementary school in Woodbridge named Kerrydale Elementary that had a special program for education for troubled and kids with anger issues, ADHD, etc. After being there for a year my teacher’s were very shocked by my transfer file and how I acted. It didn’t match. I was pretty smart, charming, and didn’t really lash out as hard as the other kids, but it was hard for me to concentrate on my work. I then transferred to another elementary school to finish my 5th grade year. Growing up I’ve been kicked out of a lot of elementary, middle, and 1 high school.  Education is the road to good citizenship in America.  My path was often bumpy and unclear but I am walking it today with new understanding.

Everyone walks a balanced line and all of us have our own bumps on the road.  Understanding this truth helps.  Unfortunately even the adults in authority can step into trouble.  This happened when one of my teachers at the elementary school for emotionally disturbed kids was arrested for using unlawful restraint.  I respected this teacher and this crazy situation taught me that anyone can lose emotional control; even a respected teacher in authority.  There are a few individuals in authority that have impacted my learning and my understanding along the way.  Back when I was a 9 year old kid going to the mosque alone, a Prince William Police officer who was off duty would see me regularly.  He was a family friend and he tried to look out for me.  As I got older his co-workers would tell him about me getting into trouble.  At first I did not appreciate his presence in my life but when I was 18 he stepped up in a big way for me.  This taught me to never dismiss people in my life who care because you never know when you will need that support.

In many schools across the country there are assigned police officers known as the School Resource Officer.  My first experience with this was in middle school. I was fooling around and was throwing up gang signs and the officer pulled me to the side. He asked if I was from somewhere as I was throwing up gang signs that were very relevant to the colors I was wearing. I then said “Hell naw money is my gang”. But he wasn’t going for it. He was very convinced I was a gang member as he used to work for the gang enforcement agency in Prince William. and he told me “You’re very young, even very young kids like you get shot and locked up”. He then proceeded to ask about my living situation and then let me go. This made me not like the police even more than I did. But as I think back on it this opened my eyes up. 

Mentor: An experienced and trusted adviser. A peer or older individual who listens and dialogues.

School Resource Officer: An sworn law enforcement officer that is responsible for safety and law enforcement in a school.  An officer who is meant to mentor by presence.

Dialogue: Conversation between two or more people.  Listening and speaking.  Presence and awareness of the other.


A Citizen for Justice; taking the next steps.

The process of education and good citizenship is lifelong.  Maturity brings with it new skills and new ways of thinking that enable better decision making, better action and the ability to stand up in the ring rather than play the victim.  I am standing up in the ring as I prepare to graduate high school because I would like to be a citizen for justice.  I have learned to stand up as part of the solution to injustice instead of playing the victim.  

I started boxing. My boxing helps me stay out of trouble and helps me work on discipline. My whole life was a fight. From going to school, trying not to get kicked out of school, and much more. Now as I’m graduating high school and looking back on these memories I have been fighting for what I thought was the good fight at the time. Boxing helped me deal with the trouble metaphorically, by taking punches in sparring, getting knocked down and getting back up, the workouts, and anything boxing related but the good of this trouble is it gets me out of bad trouble. Bad trouble is injustice.  We need to stand up to injustice when we see it but we need to avoid being the cause of it.

In 1957 Ernest Green was 1 of the first 9 African American students’ who integrated into the all white and one of the biggest high school in the country at the time. This school was named Central High School in Little Rock,, Arkansas.  The little rock 9 went through all the bad trouble for a cause. In the end it was a trouble worth something, because if he and those first student’s folded and didn’t go through that good trouble us colored people would have less courage to stay in the good fight.

The story of Ernest Green opened my eyes to a lot of scenarios I didn’t think were possible, but are very real. Ernest Green and his fellow colored peers were all undefeated boxers in the ring with societal injustice. The story of Ernest Green is most notably known as Brown vs. Board Of Education. I compare boxing to the story of Ernest Green, because to me it makes the most sense. Ernest Green and the 8 from Little Rock, Arkansas were the first black students to integrate into an all white school after the law of Integration was passed federally. At first the integration process was not happening as the National Guard were ordered by the Governor to not let the black student’s in, but he disguised his racism and corruption with the excuse of “Trying to make the integration process safe”. But the judge checked the corrupt and biased referee in a metaphor to the president using his executive power to override the blockade of the National Guard that was ordered by the governor to not let the black student’s in. Keep in mind though that the Brown vs. Board of Education case made it federally legal in all 50 states for black students to integrate into all white schools and end segregation.

 But the boxer’s didn’t quit, that was only the beginning of the fight. After the struggle of just trying to come into the school, the fight only got more vicious and brutal. Everyday for 1 year for Ernest Green from integrating to graduating our 9 boxers were constantly taking hard blows to the head but kept standing back up. A Lot of the teachers made it as hard as possible for the colored students to graduate, now just imagine the student’s. The white kids constantly harassed, attacked, bullied, tormented, messed around with, you name it the kids were doing too Ernest Green and his black peers without consequence. But Ernest Green didn’t throw the towel in after all the times he was laid out flat on his back and seeing stars. They continued going to the school fighting the Good Fight against injustice and segregation with the philosophy of non-violence where they learned from Gandhi and his fight against Great Britain. Everyday they were harassed , but they kept on fighting until they knocked out their opponent (The white students trying to make it as hard as possible for the black student’s).

1954 and 1955 Supreme Court Cases of Brown vs. Board of Education Topeka: The Constitutional ruling that segregation is wrong and not equal.

Does the segregation of public education based solely on race violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? LINK

What means should be used to implement the principles announced in Brown I?

Citizenship: The status or position of being a citizen of a particular country.  An individual who fully belongs to a community or state with full rights and responsibilities.

Civil Rights:The rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.

Human Rights: A right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person. Natural Rights. “Certain Inalienable rights”

Justice: Just behavior or treatment.  The benefit of rights and the accountability of responsibility.