My freshman year of high school was an interesting one. I started the year at Blair High School in Pasadena, California and ended my year at Centennial High School in Bakersfield, California. Centennial High School is where I would graduate three years later.
In my transition from the diverse interactions of Pasadena to the not so diverse interactions of Bakersfield, I found myself a bit at odds. In this time I was a Jordan that only dawned Sean John and cornrows was how I wore my hair. And with that image, find me in my first class of the day, History, where the classroom was silent as my new classmates stared at me while I was being introduced, by my new teacher. Later I learned that they were as equally afraid as I that day.
As the year went on I made little to no friends. I was placed in the GATE classes and slated for AP courses, while most people of color were bussed in from the east side and in lower level classes. I felt isolated and grew into a depression where my parents did not know how to help. Seeing as my depression grew with time I decided to focus on my studies, that summer I took summer school to distract my mind from my realities.
One sunny day after summer school, I was walking home as my parents were out of town on business. Our high school had a large parking lot that paralleled the main street. As I walked along the sidewalk that bordered the parking lot and street, a white pickup truck was approaching the west exit of the lot with no apprehension of stopping. Myself, knowing the law proceeded as I was the pedestrian and had the right of way. Well the driver in that moment, flustered at my actions, stopped, rolled down his window and with all his effort cursed at me with such confidence and distain that he continued to utter, "nigger".
I had heard stories from my parents about racial discourse, I had seen the news where racial things happened. But never in my knowledge of living had I ever been called that word. My response was to keep walking forward, but my ego got the best of me and I flipped him the silent salute of fuck you and went about my way.
To get to my house you had to walk over a bridge that formed a hill. Under the bridge was a canal like aqueduct that was perpendicular to my neighborhood and the golf course across the street. As I walked over the hill, releasing my mind of what occurred, I came to the realization of a familiar white truck parked at the bottom of the hill with two big guys coming towards me.
Panic. I panic'd in my head, do I turn and run, do I go another way. I kept a straight face and continued my course. Rampant saliva hit my cheek just under my squinted right eye. Pressure hit my chin as a blinded blow to my head from my assailant. More violent words, more spit, more hits, until I was on the ground, crying and looking up at fellow summer schoolers walking by.
This was a time where cell phones weren't the norm. This was a time where I got home and had to contact my father through a beeper. Fortunately, my older brother had a phone and he came to the rescue.
Months had passed. My father took care of the situation as he did not want me to have to handle such a depressing issue at such a young age. But more and more I fell into a deeper depression. I remember one conversation where my parents begged for anything they could do to help. I had no answer for them. My father then said one thing that has always stuck with me.
"Only you can make yourself happy." -James A. Killebrew
I was sick of being depressed. In that talk with my parents I made a declaration that I would be running the school by the time I graduated. We all laughed but my goal was clear. No racist, no physical altercation would deter me.
My sophomore year I began to smile. I cracked jokes, made people feel warm and welcome and I made more friends. When school elections came around I ran for the position that would give me the most exposure, Rallies Commissioner, where with my partner Karly would give morning announcements and plan our school pep rallies and to my surprise we won! The following year with my goal in mind I decided to run for President of the school. With a vast majority of the vote, I had become the second African-American to be president of Centennial High.
My parents at my graduation dinner made a speech, reminding me of my words and that they held true. With a shift of perspective and a drive to succeed I used adversity as a tool in my guidance towards success.
Workout: Glutes & Legs | Listening to Hip Hop & Rap stream on Soundcloud
+ Ten minutes on the stationery bike
+ 4 sets of walking lunges | you can use your body weight or do them with dumbbells
Main Course (Cycle's complete these 3 times):
+ Superset leg extensions | 200#x10
+ Superduperset hip flexer machine | Any weight x10
+ Leg press machine | 135#x10; 225#x8; 315x5; 135# to failure
+ Superset lying leg curl machine | 10
+ Superduperset seated calf raise machine | Any weight till failure
+ Deadlifts | Any weight x10
+ Superset standing calf raise | Any weight x10
+ Superduperset raised leg back lunges | Till failure
+ Jump rope | Till failure