Escaping the Past

September 1, 2007
WhatÕs the matter with you boy, you think that one day youÕll be better than us. But, you wonÕt! People are always going to look at you and see a poor boy from a bad neighborhood.Ó My dad always frightened me ever since I was a young boy. Now, every time I became nervous I would here my father telling me this, with his hand in the air like he was about to hit me across the back of my head.
My dad was back in my mind again, this time I was sitting in a hot, small crowded room with eleven other men I didnÕt care for. Some of the men were going on about the evidence in this case while the others were quick to come up with irrelevant racist remarks. When I heard one say those peopleÓ, I just snapped. I thought to myself, I am better than you dad! IÕve worked hard and now I am a success, respected by my colleagues and friends. No one ever thinks of me as the poor boy, as one of those people.Ó I continued to become more agitated as I thought about my dad and about what the other jurors were saying. We are the jury and a manÕs fate is in our hands. We need to decide this case based upon the facts that we are presented, not based upon our personal biases. I was ready to explode, but the words would not come passed my lips. DadÕs words instead, were pounding in my brain you are those people, youÕll always be those no good people.Ó I am one of those people!Ó I was shocked by my words and the total silence that quickly permeated the room. I saw the looks of astonishment with eleven sets of eyes focused on me wondering whatÕs next. People canÕt choose where they grow up and we canÕt judge them based upon that. I grew up believing I would not ever amount to much and I would never be more than the other people around me, because of my dadÕs constant badgering. But he was wrong, and if we continue to judge ‘those peopleÕ, our verdict will be wrong too!Ó I had never spoken up before in my life, once the words were out, I was glad that I finally did.

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