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What’s right? What’s real? A Detroit youth’s story about life without guidance

There was a moment when I was close to death and I first realized it wasn’t a game.

Everything I tried before that, I thought it was all just a game. And everything I learned, I had to learn on my own. There wasn’t people telling me how I should be.

I’d always get in fights because I was mad about all the stuff I was dealing with. I’d fight people almost to the death. One day I counted the scars on my hands and there were too many; I didn’t want to fight anymore.

He told me what was right and what was wrong. He was the first person I had to tell me.

Things changed for me when I found Allan. He told me what was right and what was wrong. He was the first person I had to tell me.

I met him when I was getting into a fight my 9th-grade year. Our gang got into a fight at school with another gang. Allan stopped the school from kicking us out and put us all in a room. He said, “The real gang is dignity. Join that gang or you’re going to jail. Now shake hands or get in these handcuffs.”

We stared at each other for an hour and finally shook hands. A month later we were all friends and still are to this day.

Allan was real. He took me to his old neighborhood, showed me he had the same childhood I had. He said this life isn’t what you want.

As children growing up, we don’t know what’s right and wrong. We just see everyone doing it and think it’s the thing to do. Allan took the time to tell me I don’t have to be a certain way. I knew didn’t want to be that way, but I didn’t know anything else was possible until he told me.

I want to get out of the ‘hood and feel safe. And if I want to, have a family in an environment where they feel good about themselves.

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