Locked Up or Dead

Kelly - Wildwood, Missouri
Entered on April 24, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Locked up or dead

“I am going to miss you.”

“Don’t worry, Ms., I’ll be back.”

“What do you mean?”

“I gotta protect my hood.”


“They were hi-sidin’ my hood, I gotta protect it.”

“You have to?”



“What do you wanna do with your life?”

“Everyone tells me I’m gonna go to jail or die in five years…”

“But what do you wanna do?”

“Ms, it doesn’t matter; I gotta protect my hood! I’m gonna be locked up or dead.”

“You believe that?”

“Yea, Ms. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”

I later found out that he wanted to serve in the armed forces or maybe be a firefighter. He didn’t return though, not to my school at least… the alternative school. No, he went to juvi. I guess they were right… all the teachers and principals, counselors and parents that told him, “If you don’t stop this, that, or the other, you’re gonna end up in jail or dead in five years.”

This I believe: there is power in words.

“You can’t.” “You’re nothing.” “Idiot.” “Retard.” “Queer.” “Slut.” “Loser.” “Fatty.” “Spoiled.” “Jail.” “Hell.”

Maybe we should stop speaking these things over our friends, our family, our children, our future. If they didn’t hear it so much, maybe they wouldn’t believe it.

They are crying:

Give us a chance to choose our own road, to walk down it with pride and without your negative voice muffled in the background. Let us choose our identity and if you want, you can be there to cheer us on.