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No New Story: My story of a Black Man Surviving Mass Incarceration In America.

Being Black in America comes with its futile rite of passage. For innumerable years we have endured pain and suffering based solely on the color of our skin. So much so, affecting our economic growth. This story is no new story. Most of us operate in impoverished communities with social factors affecting our could be outcomes of failure vs. success making it hard to endure. Most of us have had a father, brother, uncle, cousin,
relative, or friend who has been through the tumultuous system of mass incarceration amongst the black man and woman. Again, this story is no new story.

Initially, I didn’t want to write this. I felt at the age of 27 facing the toughest battles of my life, the small -- yet very important in retrospect -- accomplishments didn’t matter. I felt despite how hard I’ve worked thus far since my release, I didn’t have a right to say I survived. After those thoughts faded, I started to think: “how selfish of me”. How selfish to not share my story of victoriously surviving 3 years later when recidivism and murder rates in our communities are sky-high? Holding myself to this standard of GREATNESS, left me UNGRATEFUL. Forgetting all about my brothers and sisters who long to be in my shoes. First, I offer my sincerest apology, and next, I offer my journey to survival.


At the tender age of 21, I became a statistic. Another young black man who potentially threw his life away over a heated argument. Receiving 3 years at the time seemed blatantly harsh, but as I always say, “I wouldn’t know who I’d be without it”. While incarcerated I devoted my time to learning, the study of literature, and took to schooling offered through the prison. Longing to understand self, I enrolled in an outside social psychology course to continue my quest for knowledge. I gained wisdom through education and conversation amongst men who, like me, wanted to better themselves. Developing a plan became valuable; I decided I would flourish.


The hardest transition being dropped back into the world was adjusting, the end of 2015 was rough. I planted my feet securing employment quickly through persistence, honesty, and carpentry skills that I acquired and honed while incarcerated. I landed my first job post-incarceration as a maintenance tech at a black-owned daycare in South Philadelphia. Treating it as if I struck gold, I began to shape my life how I once envisioned. 2016 quickly amidst, I wanted to relearn social media and the game I so truly Deviating from my plans of ever creating again, but focusing solely on my endeavors as a writer. Writing music once again came naturally.


As the months passed, I managed to immerse myself into the world of writing. I soon landed multiple gigs as a music journalist for well-known blogs. I was on cloud nine. Shortly enough, I was struck by reality and reminded of being a black man with a felony
record when greater opportunity arose. Losing my job during the summer of 2016 was tough. I fell into a state of depression until
a good friend pointed me in a new direction. I pulled myself together, told my story, and secured employment as a part-time associate at Sneaker Villa. I committed my time to learning the business and performing like my life depended on it. Finally, I was promoted
to management and given an hourly rate I felt I deserved. I began to develop relationships with more people during my daily shifts. I soon knew it was the right time to create an online portfolio of my work, and put my bid in for the Philly Marketing Rep at Sneaker Villa stores.


The selling of Villa in early 2018, brought my ambitious goals to a screeching halt. Interviews would get pushed back, colleagues were leaving the company, and I was overworked for what became minimal pay. Due to my felony engraved background, I was denied every position I once sought, and demoted. The motivation to succeed started to outweigh the want to give up. After vigorously shopping around my writing portfolio, I
landed a freelance position on the new DTLR Lifestyle blog where I flourished.


Despite the highs and lows. I write this today letting my brothers and sisters know that anything is possible with patience, determination, and support. We are the authors of our stories, and they are only over when we’re finished. Many times, I’ve wanted to give up. But, I remember that life is a marathon and I continue. So, please take my unfinished story as motivation only. It will not be easy, but never quit. Stay encouraged, and keep writing until our story of survival is complete.

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