Voice of Youth

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Our Name is Rogelio Bautista

Our Name is Rogelio BautistaThis story was written a month after the murder of 16-year-old Rogelio Bautista by four 14 year old kids who grew up with him in Southwest Santa Rosa California. David Velediaz, Julio Hernandez, Maria Marquez, and Luis Vargas painstakingly pieced together their memories of him to create the story of his life and death. In this piece they chronicle his life through his voice, from his experiences as an immigrant to his initiation into a gang, and finally his death. The piece also documents the community as they grapple with Rogelio’s death and the questions that it raises.

This New Game

This New GameThis piece addresses the recent phenomenon of “cutting” from the inside perspective of a teenager, Amanda Wells, who believes that no one is really getting at the heart of the problem or explaining what it feels like to cut your own body. In this sound collage, she focuses on the fundamental urge to self-mutilate and what it would take for someone to stop, while hinting at some secrets from her own life.

The Night I Met Cornel West

The Night I Met Cornel WestIn this piece Laquoia Simmons, a self described “at risk teenager,” meets and briefly interviews renowned academic and public intellectual Cornel West. In this insightful piece, Laquoia reflects on her trip to Sonoma State University, and discusses what it was like to be an ‘at-risk’ young woman meeting a writer who writes so much about the so-called ‘at-risk’ population. In this personal and intellectual piece, she talks about family, betrayal, humiliation, and inspiration.

Transom Short

By Voice of Youth Director Tatiana Harrison

There are three objects in my office that sum up Voice of Youth, a program out of NPR affiliate KRCB radio in Sonoma County California.

First: our mission, posted on the wall, in “grant-esque” terms: “to create a team of teen correspondents who can write and produce radio of undeniable clarity and unflinching authenticity…and to chronicle and document teen culture in Sonoma County at the dawn of the 21st century.”

But I would be a hypocrite to leave you with that kind of rhetoric, because if there’s one thing I am always telling kids, it’s “don’t tell me what you believe or who you are in abstract terms.  Don’t tell me what you or someone else is ‘like,’ instead catalog the objects in your room, describe to me the kind of shoes they wear and are they scuffed and do they wear them all the time.”

Since I get a sick feeling when I have to talk about what this program is “like”, I’ll continue telling you about these objects in my office.  The second object is a tear gas canister I was hit by in Peru. I was a stringer for public radio for four years – not a very good one, but I loved it so much. And the prime way I get the kids’ attention is when I play the clip of me getting hit by the canister. (My DAT was running at the time!)

So my perspective and, therefore, the program’s, is informed by the “correspondent” model – I see the kids moving in their cliques as potential correspondents of different countries, with access to “locals” and an insider understanding of the issues.

I train them sometimes in groups, sometimes individually, in the same way I trained to be a correspondent – a crash course that gets you in the field ASAP. I feel these kids don’t need more “classes,” they need the thrill of being boots on the ground, and the feeling of being valuedas indispensable eyes and ears. Some get a great hold on Pro Tools; some don’t. Some voice their own stuff, some don’t. Some record alone in the field, some get help with that. But every time they see me, I lecture them all about what I see as the basic values of journalism: 1. Your perspective is indispensable 2. You must extrapolate the essence of your world to the outside universe 3. Every side of the story has a point of view just a real as the others 4. You have to make people care about your story.

And the last object in my office? It might seem silly, but, well… it’s the picture of the guy I’ve been in love with since college. I don’t know how it happened, but I just lost it over this guy and I’ve done the most supremely illogical, self-destructive things because of this blind worship. With all the best education, therapy and whatever, I still can’t get past this. I tell the kids about it so they know that I’m a multi-dimensional person too, that while I might be in charge of their stories and be acting like I have so much to say about their identity, there’s a part of my identity that’s dark and incomprehensible to me. I can’t say enough how I feel this is absolutely essential to having a genuine, un-exploitative relationship with them, even though I know people will probably disagree.

I’ve never been in a gang, or self-mutilated, or done a lot of the things that these kids talk about in their stories. But I base my right to address these issues with them on the fact that despite all our differences, I do know what it’s like to love something and not have it love me back. And despite the overwhelming quantitative differences in scope and scale, there is something qualitatively similar.  I think that the pain and the question “why don’t you love me?” and the groping madness that ensues from that feeling is universal and translatable.  I believe this madness is absolutely human, absolutely adolescent, and is at the heart of most of our stories.

ribben horizontal rule

Our Name is Rogelio Bautista

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This story was written a month after the murder of 16-year-old Rogelio Bautista, on the last day of 2004. Four 14-year-old kids who grew up with Rogelio in Southwest Santa Rosa, California created and voiced this piece. David Velediaz, Julio Hernandez, Maria Marquez, and Luis Vargas painstakingly pieced together their memories of him to create the story of his life and death. They wove together their voices to speak as one, to speak as Rogelio.  In this piece they chronicle his life through his voice, from his experiences as an immigrant to his initiation into a gang, and finally to his death.  The piece also documents the community as they grapple with Rogelio’s death and the questions that it raises.

(This excerpt is the last half of a 22 minute story.  The complete work can be heard at PRX’s KRCB Voice of Youth page.)

[Elvia Bautista, Rogelio’s older sister, is presently creating a longer piece about her response to the death of her brother, with the help of Voice of Youth producer Tatiana Harrison and Transom creator Jay Allison.]

Behind The Scenes Essay
By Luis Vargas

photosIt all started out when I met Tatiana Harrison and my life changed.

I was at school reading a newspaper article titled “SR Teen Shot On New Year’s Eve.” I guess Tatiana’d been to our school before but at the time I didn’t pay attention to much happening at school. The day everything changed Tatiana walked into my school, Roseland University Prep, and she asked me “How was your Christmas break?” But then she saw me crying. She asked what was wrong and I said my homeboy just passed away. She gave me her number and she said – “Call me, we could do a story on this.”

After that I called her the next day telling her that I would give making the story a shot. I don’t even really remember why I wanted to make it. I don’t know what I wanted to say exactly. Anyway, I got some people together from school that knew Rogelio Bautista, the teen that passed away. To be honest, most of the people just wanted to get out of class at first. There was David, Rogelio’s cousin, and Julio, a kid who grew up across the street from Rogelio, and Maria, whose brother was friends with Rogelio.

PhotosWhen we got down to writing, it took us about two or three weeks to write the whole script. It took us that long really because we didn’t know how to write the script. The time would be pretty much us laughing and remembering him, little stories and fun times, and Tatiana would type everything we said. She would come in almost every other day, get us out of class, and bring us different ideas on how we could make the story. One day, she said, “Why don’t we write it as if it’s him talking?” After that we were just telling the story of his life in his words, fitting in all the memories we had in the timeline of his life.

We were stuck how to end the script and David finally gave us a perfect ending from a religious saying our parents tell us: “La vida es prestada. Nunca fue tuya.” Life is borrowed. It was never really your life to begin with. With that, we had the ending. We each had our scripts. We divided up the parts and began rehearsing the script.

I felt so weird working on this story because it was such a new experience. “Why do we have to go over the script so much?” I was thinking. As we went along rehearsing, we would change the words if they didn’t feel right. It was also a very hard time doing this story because we were practically always mourning Rogelio Bautista.

After the script was done, written and edited for mistakes, we began recording at the station. Recording was one-on-one with Tatiana. While one person was recording, the rest of us would be doing homework and eating lots of popcorn. I remember when I was recording my parts of the story.  It was so frustrating. Tatiana and I would always have arguments about the story. But that was a small price to pay for the story coming out great.

PhotosSo the story was done and it was about time that our story had to be aired over the radio. It was very hard to air it because we had to protect our identities from people who knew us. We didn’t even tell anyone that it was airing. I just listened to it alone in my room. Then I called Tatiana and left a message- “That was tight!” I said.

Elvia Bautista Rogelio’s older sister heard the story and thought it was magnificent. She said we captured every aspect of her younger brother’s life from birth to death. She called crying and three or four other friends and homeboys called too. We decided to replay the story in a week and go public with it. The Press Democrat newspaper gave us some major props on the story with an article about it in the newspaper. But there were problems- teachers at school said I was making trouble for myself by talking about gangs.  But it wasn’t all bad.  My friends had said that we made them feel like Rogelio was there with them and at the same time made them sad that he was gone.

This experience was the beginning of the end for me being affiliated with a gang. I’ve now been hired to work as a Pro Tools engineer for the station. I also make my own beats on Reason. I spend a lot of time at the station, sometimes on Friday and Saturday nights. If it wasn’t for the station, I don’t think my parents would ever let me out of the house, because it’s a dangerous neighborhood where we live. Now all I’m focusing on is getting on in school and my music career ahead of me. Like I always say- what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and that’s just what this story did for me.

This New Game

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It’s lunchtime at Maria Carillo High school and 15 year old Amanda Wells can look around and spot more ‘cutters’ than she can count on her fingers. The trend of cutting, or self-mutilation, is a theme poured over in chat rooms and counselors’ conferences, but Amanda thought that no one was getting at the heart of what it feels like to cut your own body.  In this sound collage, she focuses on the fundamental urge to self-mutilate, what it would take for someone to stop, all the while hinting at some secrets from her own life.

Behind-the-Scenes Essay

By author/producer Amanda Wells

Why did I set out on this story?  What were my questions at the beginning? Well, I originally did it to discover two things. Number One: WHY DO PEOPLE CUT? But Number Two, a very different question: WHY HAS IT BECOME COOL TO DO THIS? These questions stemmed from people around my school showing off their cuts like symbols of being cool, and from hearing my own friends start talking about it. The Voice of Youth director and I thought we had two good questions that could look at the problem from all its angles. So the universal question becomes how much of self-destructive behavior is kids finding a way to respond to real psychic pain from abuse, depression, anxiety, etc. versus how much is a cultural thing, just kids trying to fit in, in a culture that’s created dangerous, seductive ways to rebel, whether it’s by joining a gang or becoming a cutter.

So I started with those two key, universal questions, interviewing those who cut and having long talks about self-injury with people in Voice of Youth. I even did a lot of research on the issue. I found all these articles on the Internet that would go into great detail about the side effects, the infections, and the fact that you could hit a vein, but that was only telling me what might happen. The only people who would heed these warnings are people who actually cared about themselves, who would never cut in the first place. And these warnings would only add another reason to do it for cutters looking to destroy or isolate themselves. How could I write a story that wasn’t preaching to the choir without giving depressed kids a cool new idea of how to hurt themselves?

Well, this story took me around 7 and 1/2 months. I gradually realized that the questions I had been asking were not the right ones- but these early questions were slowly revealing the actual questions I should be asking, that anyone exploring a question like this should be asking. Using an analogy of gang violence, parents, counselors and police will always be asking WHY a kid decided to join gang, but that kid will always be asking WHY NOT be in a gang? A WHY just gets you a WHY NOT.

WHY is the question from the outside looking in at the freaks. It’s never going to be the question that will ever get you anywhere when dealing with people living in a world different from yours, especially a prison in their minds. WHY NOT: that is the right question, looking from the inside out. Instead of the question I was asking: WHY do people cut, the question had to get at an alternative to or way out from cutting, WHY NOT  become a victim of self-injury? Once you’re stuck in the dark cell, what can you really see, peaking out from your cave, as the light shows you there’s something outside?

Editing my interviews later, I listened to my friend as I interviewed her. I hadn’t really understood what she was saying at the time, but finally I got it, I could hear the answer to why not. See, I could hear the real risk she had run, the real damage. She had split herself into two people: a whole person, with connections to her parents, and friends;  and who she was when she was alone with her blade, when she cut. They are real and separate identities. I finally decided that there is nothing wrong with cutting, not in the taboo way, …there’s nothing wrong AT FIRST. It’s not wrong as a noun; it’s wrong as a verb. What it does, every time you cut.

What hurts you is the splinter of the self. Each cut divides yourself further and further apart into those two halves of a person.  The gap grows, and finally splits so that you can’t get back to who you used to be. Except this realization doesn’t come until you start to feel the pain of yourself wanting to be whole again, which hurts more than its’ worth to cut.

Essentially I hope this story closes the gap between the whys and the why-nots. The gang kids in Voice of Youth are always like, “Why would anyone cut?!” and the other kids are like “Why would anyone join a gang?” I hope this story can say something about how it’s crazy that people think they’re different from other people just because their instrument of self-injury is different. Maybe what you can do is think about the “why nots” you have and imagine substituting that when you ask “why” someone would do crank, or let themselves be abused, or drive drunk.

But I especially hope closing the gap makes it harder for cutters to isolate, and slice so much that the threads of identity dissolve; and that it makes it easier for them to put themselves back together.

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” (Emerson)

Amanda Wells. 15 years old. Maria Carrillo High School Junior. (‘I just went to school hella early.’)  If you like her story, be her MySpace friend (she’s ‘Pétasse’), and write any advice on doing a story about Creationism and the Minutemen (her next two projects).

The Night I Met Cornel West

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19-year-old Laquoia Simmons had a big night a while back: she met and interviewed Professor Cornel West, the famous ‘interpreter of the African-American experience,’ advocate for social justice, philosopher and critic. She reflects on her trip to Sonoma State University, and discusses what it was like to be an ‘at-risk’ young woman meeting a writer who writes so much about the so-called ‘at-risk’ population.

Behind The Scenes Essay

By Laquoia Simmons

Since doing the Cornel West story some things have changed and some haven’t. I’ve since gotten a better job that I think might bring me more security. I’ve been doing a little more traveling, but mostly just working trying to pay the bills and survive. Some of my friends have gone back to jail and some have gotten out. The majority of them are trying to stay out this time, but they’re always somehow getting pulled back. One of my closest friends got many months in San Quentin for violating parole- just because he was backing this kid up in a stupid little fight over nothing but colors. What a waste. When he was out he would be with his friends and they would talk all the time about being locked up. Almost like it was camp. They had learned all kinds of things, they knew every rule, all the right words -a private club. Inside they were smart and knew how to make things and were proud of it. They were good at it -being inside. On the outside, they got turned away at job interviews and stopped by the police all the time. What place would you like better if you were them? But that’s just the trap we live in, I guess.

I’ve also had a deeply intense discussion with a good friend of mine about some of the comments and issues Cornel West talked about in the story I did and I’ve come to realize this world is nothing but a big puzzle or drug, everybody trying to find their way, everybody blind or running from their harsh reality that would be way too overwhelming to even face.

Something I learned that hadn’t changed since the story was some people’s obvious ignorance. In the West story I mentioned how I was driving and some guys called me ‘nigger’ when they passed me on the road. Recently I was put into a similar situation when ‘kicking it’ with my friends, or at least people that I thought were my friends. One friend was out of cigarettes and was asking around if anyone had some. Another person had Newports and offered those and then I heard, ‘I don’t want any of those nigger cigarettes.’ I was the only black person in the room so all the attention was drawn to me after the comment. I was in a really awkward position. A part of me wanted to get up and leave, a part of me wanted to beat the shit out of the girl who said it, even though I don’t think her intention was to offend me. But instead I did nothing but just sit there and think about what I should have done. It made me feel really unsure about myself. I wish I would’ve had Cornel West on speed-dial at that moment. I’m sure he would’ve had a great answer to my problem.

As far as my family life goes, it’s all pretty much the same.  We’re all being thrown into situations and forced to deal or make the least we can out of them.  My dad’s turned ‘all bad’ since the story, but it’s okay. It’s not like I was expecting the best from him. Lately I’ve just been trying to get a handle on this roller-coaster life of mine. Trying to figure out the who, what, why, where, and when about me. Who knows maybe I’ll turn out to be the first female president or a great icon. I could even be that face you see on a great big picture in a hall in a great big company in a place as far away as New York. Kind of like the one I saw of Mr. West at WNYC when I completed one of my life’s dreams and finally saw New York City. It’s all about getting yourself out there, I guess, but then what you do with what you find out there.

Laquoia Simmons. 19 years old. Ridgeway High Graduate. (‘Sure, after they lost hella credits of mine.’) Currently JCPenny stocker. If you like her story, be her next braiding client and write any advice on doing a story about sex workers and prostitution (her next project).

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  • Jay Allison

    3.05.06

    Reply
    Three from Voice of Youth

    We listen to a lot of public radio, god bless it, but certainly it sometimes rolls on in a predictable flow. It’s good to remember that there are other ways of sounding.

    What we like about these pieces–one is about the phenomenon of cutting, one a memorial for a gang death, and one describes a meeting with Cornell West–is that they defy the usual tone, subject and source of public radio, yet each is thoughtful, authentic and memorable… just what public radio aspires to be. Plus, they are made by the potential audience of tomorrow. Makes you think.

  • Andy Knight

    3.08.06

    Reply
    "Our Name is Rogelio Bautista"

    Incredible. The writing in this story just blew me away. Extremely fantastic writing. Some of the reading left a little to be desired, and I’m not sure the music usage doesn’t distract more than it moves you through the peice. But, overall, a truly wonderful debut.

  • Luis Enrique Vargas

    3.08.06

    Reply
    From one of the authors, some notes

    Hello my name is Luis Enrique Vargas one of the authors of the story “Our Name Is Rogelio Bautista”.

    I am fifteen years old.Ever since the story was published I have been trying to stay out of the jaws of trouble and staying away from gang life. Actually lately I got into some trouble with the Santa Rosa Police Department and just right now in Studio B we were arguing over the reasons why I should not do stupid things.

    What you don’t realize about this story is that the neighborhood that this incident happened in is the same neighborhood that I am still living in. Also a lot of people liked the story but on the other hand most of my old friends in the gang were very unhappy at me for doing such a thing which they see as letting out what should not have been said outside of the gang.

    Also what I said about the gang that Rogelio was in “Angelino Heights” about losing their credibility is actually happening at this very moment. The gang has not stricken back at the people who murdered Rogelio.

    What I feel about the line in the story “Tu vida es prestada nunca fue tuya” which in English is “Life is borrowed it was never really your life to begin with” is that it is a magnificent quote because it shows the main thing about life and death. A person cannot expect to live life without dying at some point in the future. Also to add to this quote is another, “God moves in mysterious ways”. No one knows when and how they will die or how they will live their life. People have a good idea but never have an understanding of the unexplainable. I think a lot of kids’ actions are based on these two philosophies on life.

    A line in the essay that I wrote that I feel should be showed in depth is that I say what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. What I meant by that was that I have been thru a lot of struggle thru out my life. Many which of that I have had a lot of deaths with my friends mostly all of my old homeboys are dead and the fact that I am still able to be here typing this blows me away! I cannot believe that everything that I have done wrong let to something this good and that is what I meant by my line.

    There are many other topics that I would to make a story about in the future mostly preferable are those that are very controversial. I would like to go more in depth on life in the hood or in the barrios of California. I also am very into rap I myself am making a CD soon to be out in late 2006 and I hope to pursue that career by doing a story on hip hop/rap. Well all in all this has been a behind the scenes from yours truly.

  • Jose Chavez

    3.08.06

    Reply
    This is what I think, you beezy

    What’s up I’m Jose Chavez I have done stories with Voice Of Youth. I was one of Rogelio’s, as he would say, “little homie” we grew up in the same neighborhood repping the same gang and the same Varrio (Moorland) some things that you might not know is that not just another gang member died and not just a Latino kid died but a friend a real friend and the light of my(our) Varrio because Moorland is not the same since he pasted away and one of the things I miss is the smile he gave me every time he said want to play soccer, football. I LOST A GOOD FRIEND!

    One thing that we all laugh about is when Tatiana was a reporter in Peru and she was doing who knows what and the police was throwing tear gases at the people and by the sound of the recorder, it seemed that Tatiana was just standing there and then a tear gas canister hit her on the leg and by the sounds she made when she got hit are hilarious if you are interested into listening to that recording please e-mail us or come on in to the station.

    When the story said that if Rogelio had died for nothing or his death would have been for nothing. Yes, someone has made something of his life, his sister Elvia Bautista she has made stories and has done big things for Voice of Youth and herself over his sad going. But don’t think that she is taking advantage of it or that it’s easy, because every time she talks about her brother to people she brings great pain to herself.

    The stories I would like to hear is what Sergio saw that night when Rogelio got shot and what he thinks should be done or what he did or what he wanted to do. I think that way then people would know how people react to those kind of things being your brother and seeing your brother get shot dead. Don’t you

  • Patricio Estupinan

    3.08.06

    Reply
    My opinion is my opinion

    Hey my name is Patricio.

    I’m friends with Luis and I’m the engineer for the Voice of Youth show. What you all don’t know is that since the death of Rogelio no one has really gotten back at the rival gang who is responsible for his death and I think that is bad, I have to say.

    What you also don’t know is that at the studio all we do is just mess around, record tracks and just chill here (my director is over my shoulder reading this saying that we don’t just mess around here – she’s just boring like that). You also don’t know that our Director, Tatiana Harrison, has a funny laugh that if you hear you will start laughing, but not at what she is saying, but laughing at her laugh.

    What I feel about the line, "La vida es prestada. Nunca fue tuya." Life is borrowed. It was never really your life to begin with, in the Rogelio story is that it is true. Life is borrowed cuz you ain’t promised tomorrow, so you should enjoy yourself do whatever the f*** you want cuz you will die anyways.

    What I feel about the line “Why did I set out on this story? What were my questions at the beginning? Well, I originally did it to discover two things. Number One: WHY DO PEOPLE CUT? But Number Two, a very different question: WHY HAS IT BECOME COOL TO DO THIS?” from Amanda Wells story is that I’m wondering the same thing. Why do people cut themselves, what, you don’t appreciate life so you gonna go cut yourself, destroy the body that Jesus gave you, so you go ahead and ruin the body he gave you, disrespect Jesus himself. No you just shouldn’t do that, that’s a sin.

    What I would like to work on during my time in the radio business is to go to New York and ask random people how 9/11 affected them, I would like to interview Lil Jon and ask him how he feels about the hip hop game and all the beef that’s going on between todays rappers. That’s something that I would like to do.

  • Patricio Estupinan

    3.08.06

    Reply
    rebuttal

    This is Tatiana, director of VOY. We were just having a wee arguement about Patricio’s comment about the cutting story. I was bringing up that I thought kids getting into gangs or doing vandalism stuff that might get them in Juvie and getting to know the criminal lifestyle is just the same disrespect to Jesus, as he puts it. You’re just hurting yourself in a different way. It is an issue that comes up quite often in our stories and discussions. How much can you compare different kids’ forms of doing harm, etc. I would love anyone to comment on this and feel free to ask any of the kids questions.

  • Patricio Estupinan

    3.09.06

    Reply
    Cornell West talk

    What up? This is Greg Shimada and I’ve been coming to Voice of Youth for about a year and a half now and I’ve heard a lot of stories produced by everyone. But one of my favorites is the Cornell West one because it is so personal and I can relate to the feeling of having a lot on your plate and not knowing which way to go. I think everyone has that awkward transition from being a kid to an adult and what to do with the things you either want to forget about your life as a kid or keep.

    I think what you don’t realize about this story is probably all the times they had to do takes on it. And all the clips they had to listen to of Cornell West and his speech and pick out the right ones to comment on. That takes a long time and a lot of hard work so every piece that we do I have some respect for.

    A part that I felt very strong was when the person shouted the racial slur at Laquoia. I felt that was authentic reputation of what its like to grow up as a minority in Sonoma County. If your family does move out of major cities, you might think your going to a safe life. But I think on the contrary you’re also standing out more because there is less of your population in a county. I feel like its also a weird part of growing up, trying to see where you fit in a county that doesn’t exactly share your same views.

    I am really interested in telling stories about graffiti and my biracial heritage. I’m working on both and I’m hoping to come out with a real good product that truly represents me. I also would like to incorporate stories about hip-hop because that’s the music I feel is the strongest communicator to the youth. I want to have all of young people hear them, not just some who like hip-hop, I want them all to understand where I’m coming from. I would also like adults to keep an open ear, because I feel so often they have no clue or understanding to what kids are doing – its right here, in radio format.

  • Jose Chavez

    3.09.06

    Reply
    rogelio story comments

    Whatup homeslice; this is Emily Raymond, senior producer and senior-est member at Voice of Youth.

    The line that hits me the hardest in Rogelio’s story is the line about being just another outline for mothers to walk over with their baby strollers. It really made the image hit home in my mind’s eye, and was very descriptive and effective. As my lit teacher says, "Show, don’t tell". (I don’t like her, she’s lame.)

    In the future, I’d like to tell the story of my impending graduation and cross-country move. I want to communicate to adults who may have forgotten exactly what this confusing time in one’s life means, how it feels, and also pay a little tribute to the small town, school, and group of people I’ve learned to begrudgingly love over time.

  • Jose Chavez

    3.09.06

    Reply
    Voice of Youth Stories

    Hey all, this is Abby Lebbert, a senior member of this radio group.

    A behind the scene fact about the Rogelio story is that the night it aired, we were all at the radio station having a blast, happy that one of our hour long stories was airing. We were all very emotional when the story ended, and someone who had been listening called Tatiana right away to thank us for doing the story so people knew about the life of teens like Rogelio in Roseland.

    The line that always gets me in the Rogelio story is when narrator points out that it is all a circle and all the things that happened to him will happen again. It really makes you wonder about the vicious cycle that these teens get caught in and how to get it to stop.

    My favorite line in Tatiana’s essay is when the tear gas canister hits her leg in Peru. It is just so typical of a Tatiana Story. All of her stories inspire us kiddies when we are wonder what to do, as well as give us endless hours of entertainment.

    Okay, so a story I would like to tell. However, it is not necessarily one that I would write. It would be to do an old radio mystery, but update it to modern day.

    That’s all folks!

  • Luis Enrique Vargas

    3.09.06

    Reply
    Hey, it’s Alex

    Hi, this is Alex Soden, Producer at Voice of Youth.

    One thing you behind the scenes of the Rogelio story is that one of the outtakes had David quizzing Tatiana on geometry.

    I really like how each of the 4 kids is speaking for Rogelio. It’s great to hear how fond they are of him.

    The line that hits home the most for me is when they’re playing baseball in that old field. I can imagine a bunch of kids playing and laughing and having a blast; not even thinking that at some point one of them would be dead from a gunshot.

    At this point, I want to do a story about going away to college. I want college bound kids to here it, but also the parents who are worried about their kids leaving home.

  • Sarah Yahm

    3.13.06

    Reply
    transformation?

    Hello all. First of all I just want to say how much I’ve learned from these pieces and from the discussion that you guys have been having on the talk board. I was just listening to "The night I met Cornel West" again and one line really struck me this time around. Laquoia, you have this great line at the end right after you talk about how much your life wasn’t changed by this night that in some ways should have been life changing. You say "I guess a night of talk about love and reconciliation is nothing next to a second of aggression." So after listening to this piece and "My name is Rogelio Bautista" I’ve been thinking a lot about transformation, especially because you guys have been talking a lot about retaliation in the talk forum. So, here’s my question, and I would really like to hear your different opinions about it. How does transformation happen? There’s a lot of ambivalence in these pieces about revenge and retaliation. The sense I get is that most of you agree that revenge isn’t the way to go but it seems impossible to break the cycle even when major things happen that could/should break it. So my question is, what really makes people change and transform and move away from revenge and retaliation because as Laquoia said a whole night talking about peace and love dissapears in the face of 5 seconds of violence and humiliation. Do you guys know people who’ve really left gang life and what moment/incident really made them get out?

    —-Sarah

  • Tatiana Harrison

    3.13.06

    Reply
    Response to Sarah

    This is Tatiana, VOY director. Sarah, You’ve asked the question that I feel is central to our work and something you could base a whole weekly show on! I will distribute your question and the answers should start rolling in over a week’s time. Sorry for the lag, but it’s tough without enough home computers, etc.! Thanks so much, I hope people reading the Talk section feel free to answer themselves…

  • Melissa Allison

    3.14.06

    Reply
    decisions, decisions…

    Amazing work on "Our Name is Rogelio Bautista" (I haven’t listened to the other stories yet.) I think the technique of having each kid speak for Rogelio really helped me hear this story in a new way. It seemed to reveal something about Rogelio and something about the speakers, all at once.

    Two questions on process- did you each write your own segments? Or did you write collaboratively? And if so, how did you each decide what parts would be yours to speak?

    Secondly, how did you decide on what music is used- particularly the last song?

    Lovely and important work. Kudos too on the photos.

  • amanda wells

    3.15.06

    Reply
    depends on how you view it.

    hi sarah.

    im amanda. i wrote/produced this new game. yet the question you ask is one that the voice of youth director and i went over and compared quite extensively between gangs and cutting.

    the idea of transformation is when a person in a gang situation, or any self destructive situation, finally notices the other world going on around them. when the question becomes WHY would i be in a gang?, instead of WHY SHOULDN’T i be worrying about revenge and retaliation because gangs are my life?. the talk of peace Laquoia speaks of is simply a glimpse of that question of, why am i doing this?

    the way to leave a gang or stop cutting. remember they are similarly destructive to one’s self, is to have a replacement. to show that person a lifestyle different than the one so familiar. that’s where that idea of reinsertion and rehibilitation comes in.

    i hope this helps your understanding. there are more details in the essay i wrote in my story addressing the issue of being inside and outside of certain behaviors that i think you might find interesting also.

    -amanda

  • laura davison

    3.15.06

    Reply
    feeling anything

    Amanda,
    Your piece really got to me- in the way it relates to so many forms of self-detruction. The universal struggles for self-control and self-acceptance. Your beautiful writing helped to put me inside the mindset of these kids- particularly the moment you ask us to look at our own forearms. But you also pulled off the very difficult feat of making me feel like I understand something more generally about people and about myself- the sometimes blurry lines between hurting and feeling better. The strange power of ritual over reason.

    I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about some of your editorial decisions- how you managed to both personalize and universalize this (seemingly) very specific experience.

  • Tatiana Harrison

    3.15.06

    Reply
    Notes on Production of "Rogelio"

    This is Tatiana Harrison, Voy directora. I thought I could answer a bit about process. For the Rogelio story, step one was getting in a room with four kids who had all know Rogelio at different points in his life. The teachers were generous enough to let them out of class, which was a huge incentive. They just started throwing out anecdotes, observations, just chatting, and I would be furiously typing away the stream of the conversation in shorthand. Then we started piecing together the anecdotes in a timeline from the beginning of his life until the end, just scene after scene in order. Confirming details with family members, filling in blanks as well. Often the first way the kid would tell the story, say, of where they were when they heard, was very different when we got into specifics. It was a weird experience, and I feel, important for them to re-think what they saw, observed.

    I asked a lot of questions to fill out the anecdotes – it was like a Socratic dialogue, in a way – "who else was there, what did it look like in the living room, how was it lit" – I have a background in film so I am constantly thinking in terms of, and including kids to think in terms of – if I had to shoot the movie of this story, how would I do it – how would I build the set to look just like that night, what would I need exactly – oh, a Christmas tree in the corner, oh, a big TV that’s blaring Times Square festivities. What kind of actors do I cast, how do I direct them to talk, are they mad, sad?

    To this day, I don’t remember who thought of doing it in his voice. I think we just couldn’t decide who the narrator should be, so we decided it would be Rogelio himself.

    Mostly, people narrated the anecdotes they contributed, but sometimes I chose sections that I felt would be more powerful if, say, Luis read them, or more powerful if a woman (Maria) read it.

    The music was partly beats the kids created on Reason and Fruity Loops, and beats that I found. The last song popped into my head all of the sudden. The lyrics, particularly, seemed to underscore exactly the issues we were addressing –
    once the story was "scored," I played it for kids and they gave their thumbs up on most of it. The background sound of the priest is raw sound from tthe wake and funeral of Rogelio.

    Thanks so much for your interest! Ask more!

  • Melissa Allison

    3.15.06

    Reply
    Laura?!?

    Hey this is Melissa Robbins, just writing to say that my post "feeling anything" somehow got registered as being posted by Laura Davison. Don’t know why that happened, but sorry.

  • Greg Shimada

    3.15.06

    Reply
    from Luis Vargas – response to Sarah

    What up this is Luis Vargas one of the authors of “Our Name Is Rogelio Bautista” & I am very, very appreciative of someone who posted a comment for “The Night I Met Cornell West” by Laquoia.

    I was actually out there with Laquoia and Tatiana when we were hit by a bag of white powder. So I felt the same thing as Laquoia – feeling moved by the impact of the spoken words but then my whole mood changing 180 degrees, just because of someone saying or doing something to me.

    My temper, basically, my inability to control the mad feelings that come up like a wave that crashes and I can’t control when and how- is one thing that definitely keeps me from making a big change like a complete transformation. I may have stepped away from gang life and hang out with different people and all that, but I’m like a pile of gunpowder, any little thing could set me off. And in my neighborhood, there’s a ton of “little things.”Also I think transformation can be acquired only if one is dedicated to change and really wants to make everything better. I now know that revenge will not solve any problem that someone is in so I do not think retaliating against those people that threw the white powder at Laquoia, Tatiana & myself is a good idea.

    But reading this, the director pointed out that I have recently been involved in retaliation type things. This brings up that it’s one thing to think something is good in theory, like not retaliating, but in practice, you do the opposite or different things. You might think revenge isn’t good, but when you have that angry, burning feeling of being insulted and you just want that feeling to go away, you’ll do anything to cover up or run way from that feeling. Tatiana just brought up the word “dissociate” – I guess it’s a word that means you’re doing something but it’s like it’s not even you doing it. I feel like that with many of the things I’ve done. A lot of people think these are issues for the courts, I’m getting at it more from the counseling and anger management side of things. Just keep in mind – a lot of kids "know" in their heads that it’s wrong so talking at them more, explaining to their brains it’s wrong isn’t gonna help.

    I personally think that whoever threw the powder at us was in some way racist or in a fraternity. Maybe the idea of them hating us because of our race is what caused the change from being so excited that we had just met Cornell West to what the hell are these guys thinking throwing white powder at us they are complete and total idiots.

    It is also in my eyes impossible to break the cycle truly and I have an example. I haven’t been involved in gang life for a year or two now but people always go and say or do something in my name like if I was still in the gang. They even confuse me with my cousin who has the same name. But I guess if I can keep it together long enough to get out of here, I’ll be okay. It’s like we’ve been put in a ring for a really long round – our teen years – and it’s just a matter of surviving until the bell rings.

    I do know someone who has stepped away from gang life completely my close friend. Chiquela, he was in the 19th street gang in San Francisco Mission District. Chiquela is now currently a DJ and has a beautiful 2 year old daughter and a great wife. In this case, he had a dream of being a DJ and then he had a little kid to take care of. Some people get it together when they have kids, some don’t. I think music is a big path out. It’s a good way to spend time on something else, get out your emotions, etc. I think a lot of the money they spend on these after school programs – they should spend them instead on big music studios and starting production companies that young ghetto kids can work at when they’re older.

    Please reply, Sarah, if you can, and anyone else out there-

  • Luis Enrique Vargas

    3.15.06

    Reply
    Response to Sarah message from Jose Chavez

    This is Jose.

    The conversation and question about "transformation" and why do people become gang members and why do people do revenge all ways gets asked at the station and in the studio we always discuss the topic.

    When we discuss this topic it is mostly Tatiana versus all us kids. She always says that why not just stop it and it wouldn’t continue. I know about that by experience in gangs that you can’t permanently make transformation in society because there is always a younger generation that doesn’t know what a gang is or what is a jail cell or what the danger is in jail or in a gang. You might want to stop retaliation yourself but you can stop it in one generation but the next generation coming up won’t care and just do the same mistakes that you went through. You can’t get them to stop until they experience it them self or until it’s too late. But I guess Tatiana thinks you can, since that’s her job all day to do that.

    Another thing that I forgot to mention is that kids have a lot of Pride. I don’t know how you define Pride: in this case, it’s your reputation among your friends and foes around you. If you grow up around gangs and violence, if you want to be popular you have to have respect, and you gain respect by not letting anyone disrespect you or punk you, push you around because people then know you as a weak lean and everyone will start pushing you around.

    In our conversations, Tatiana always brings up that when we talk about Pride and all that, we’re talking about the MOMENT, the people around us right now, and how something we do will get us respect right now. She asks us how much respect, etc. will we have after a lot of time in jail or without education for a good job. But – think about when you were a teen-ager. It’s hard to think like that, about future stuff when you’re a teen-ager. You’re at a point in your life where really imagining a future and a time that’s gonna be different from now means having a lot of imagination. It would be like if a forty year old person was acting like teen-ager. That would be weird, and hard to do. Every day it’s a struggle –and only one out of 50 people you see is saying that stuff about the future. The odds are against you there and you have to be much more dedicated than most kids have to. Think about how hard it would be to convince a blond kid in a prep school to join a gang. Why would it be hard? Their parents, friends would think it would be weird, they don’t see people who look like them in gangs on T.V on in music videos – it would be weird.

    I personally know someone that did leave gangs behind, as matter of fact : Elvia Bautista, sister of “Rogelio Bautista” and now a star and member of Voice of Youth. She was gang banging but not in a gang, she, as we say would say, was backing it up, fighting anyone that would disrespect Surenos. Since her brother past away she doesn’t want be around or get involved with gangs and especially get her brothers leave gangs and the area permanently. She found her purpose in her daughter and her job. But every day it’s a struggle that a lot of people would not be strong enough to deal with.

    For me personally, I am maybe less deep in than I was a year ago. I went to a small good school, I have a girlfriend, etc. You, and a lot of people, asked how a person transforms and gets away from a gang way of living – but that’s a weird question to people from my neighborhood. You don’t “get out of gangs” just like you don’t “get out” of being a brother, mother, etc. So people asking people to get out are asking a weird question to me. I feel like you can try and try but something will always happen and you will get drawn back.. And it’s very dangerous to get stuck in the middle – like you’re not with your gang and not with another. You’re totally weak there. It has to fall in the list of things to do, like your priorities. The only way to make space between you and gangs is to move.
    And also some people are addicted to violence. I know you want an answer on turning away from revenge – but that’s like a question that my mind can’t really focus on, because it seems so bizarre.

  • C A

    3.16.06

    Reply
    Can you feel me…

    I’ve worked with at-risk students for over seven years now, all the way from Oklahoma City, Las Vegas to Fort Worth, TX.

    Many of these students are "gangbangers" or "wantabes." The one thing that I have learned is don’t take anything away from them with out replacing it with something of equal value.

    Easy to say, hard to do.

  • Melissa Allison

    3.16.06

    Reply
    put in a ring

    "It’s like we’ve been put in a ring for a really long round – our teen years – and it’s just a matter of surviving until the bell rings."

    Ah…so true, Luis.
    To greater and lesser degrees, I think that’s what lots of kids feel in high school. It’s like you’re dealt a certain set of circumstances- your school, your city, your family and friends, your access to money and to freedom. or not. And really, you have little control over those things until you are old enough and capable enough to choose some of your own circumstances.

    Some things you never get to chose, like your family. But I think the hardest thing is when kids lose hope before they ever get to the point where they might be able to make things better for themselves. The moment "when the bell rings" and you get to be in a new place, a new circle of friends. You get to claim a new identity for yourself.

    So, I don’t know. this is more personal than editorial. And I hope I don’t sound like a lame guidance counselor. (i probably do) But if I could say anything to the kids who feel like they’re in the ring, it’d be this: Hang in there. Don’t lose faith in your power to choose. Don’t let all the good parts of you shrivel up like little dried dog turds. Second chances are coming.

  • Tatiana

    3.19.06

    Reply
    bIG NEWS FROM SANTA ROSA from Jose

    Hey, this is Jose, and there’s been news around here that has a lot to do with what we’ve been talking about on this Talk section and Tatiana asked me to write my ideas on it, especially because she happened to be there when it happened and has been dealing with it.

    The summary for people that don’t live near Santa Rosa or in this county is that last Friday there was a shooting near a continuation school named Airway where students that have been expelled from a public school can go there and keep going to school.

    This school is located by the K mart shopping center in Northern part of Santa Rosa. 20 min after school a Cadillac Escalade came to a stop and shoot a 15 year old girl in the butt and guy in the head. Reason being because of gang relation, war between Surenos, wear blue, and nortenos, wear red. They fight for respect, sides, and territory in the streets. None of the victims got killed but the shooters got caught minutes later after the shooting.

    The reaction people I know on the street was oh well, since I know mostly people on the side of the shooters, but for the homies being convicted, that sucks. People react on who the attack was on, if the victim was on their side, like the attack that they did on west 3rd this week, they said that was f’ed up and for sure, there was going to be retaliation, even more because this week again they stabbed another homie by Elsie Allen everyone knew there was going to be a BIG retaliation for a fact.

    Im not saying that everyone as in general but everyone that knows what goes on in these hoods and in the in the underground gang war. And so it’s been a big week.

    Tatiana reacted in a big way when I said it was funny that girl got shot. The reason I said that it was funny because no one died and, she decided to start gang banging, no one raises us to become a gang member and no one put a gun to out heads and says to start gang-banging. I don’t think that her mom told them to go out and start dissing surenos.

    What I’m trying to say is that they made them selves the target on Friday and I’m sure in the past. Like If I was still out on the streets as much as I use to and I was shot I knew that was coming to me anyway and that was that. If Tatiana could just experience just half that any one of my friends or me with rival gang members she would change her mind completely.

    I think that Tatiana’s reaction was pure “kids their lives were put in danger, her mom is going to flip why would they shoot at each other.” She just thinks of them as people. Tatiana doesn’t think about that, that’s coming to them eventually in some point in there lives because “THEY” decided to become gang affiliated no one chose that but them!! The other gang members where just being gang members.

    Tatiana shouldn’t have to worry about those kids moms because if their moms didn’t want to experience anything like that then they should of tighten the belt on their kids when they started seeing them going the wrong path.

    The difference between my thoughts and Tatiana’s thoughts is that she thinks that teens don’t really know what they get them selves in to when they’re young or when they don’t see any other thing in there lives. The thing I see is that they do know what is out there because teachers, parents, and mostly every adult. In most of everyone, beginning of their lives always ask and suggests what you should be, up to the date my parents still do that. I think that’s not an excuse to blame everyone else in some ways, socities fault.

    Basically, I see it as a choice, a real choice and she sees it as a decision that’s different from other choices. I say that we know what they are getting themselves into and she wonders what is it to “know” when you’re a teen-ager, like is there “knowing” and then really knowing? So that’s we were talking about and pretty much are always talking about.

  • Sarah Yahm

    3.20.06

    Reply
    transformation again

    Hey Luis and Jose. Sorry it took me so long to respond to you guys. I’ve read your comments over a bunch of times and they were so articulate and smart and revealed to me so clearly how much I don’t know about your neighborhood and your experience.
    I do have a couple of thoughts, though. First of all, Jose, I really appreciated you pointing out that the whole premise of my question "How do you get out of a gang?" was simplistic and bizarre and the type of question that outsiders ask. You say getting out of a gang is like getting out of your family but then your reasons for staying involved all involve safety and fear, and pride. And family involves bonds of love and affection also and I know that’s part of the reason people stay in gangs too. Is there a way to leave and still maintain those friendships, connections, shared histories with friends? Can it be like when you move away from home and your parents shift from being immediate family to extended family. Can that happen with gangs? Can they become extended family not immediate family?

    And Luis. First of all you are a beautiful writer. And I hear what you’re saying about all the little things, the small indignities and humiliations just getting to you. And that’s what Laquoia’s piece articulates so clearly.

    I wanted to talk about your idea at the end when you say "a lot of the money they spend on these after school programs – they should spend them instead on big music studios and starting production companies that young ghetto kids can work at when they’re older." Great idea. It made me realize that people rarely ask kids what type of programs/resources would be helpful for them. They come up with ideas and then hope kids will join up but rarely give kids the resources/money/influence to help create those kinds of programs. So I ask all of you – if you were to create programs that would help kids in your neighborhood live less violent lives, handle the small indignities more easily, etc. what would those programs look like?

    And again, thanks so much for responding so thoughtfully to my question. I’m learning an enormous amount from this dialogue and I’d like to say that this type of real/direct/honest conversation about gangs and violence is so rare and honest and important.

    —–Sarah

  • Tatiana Harrison

    3.31.06

    Reply
    Airway kids respond

    This is Tatiana, director of Voice of Youth – I am posting a whole bunch of student reactions to the topic of transformation that was first introduced about 2 weeks ago –

    I would really love any feedbackon what the kids say, even specific messages to the kids, or general ideas.

    The kids names are aliases but not one word of the essays has been changed. The kids who responded are kids at the "Airway school", for kids who are expelled from all other District school. It was Airway kids who were shot in the shooting we had 2 weeks ago….

    The essay topic was for them to think about transformations they have made or could make in their lives…

    "Carlos"
    One thing about transformation in my life was: when I was little I would always play with my brother in the front yard and always think I was a police officer.

    Now when I was getting older I really realized that I absoulty had cops and was like mad at myself for doing that like playing in the yard with my brother.

    So now in my life I want to be a major league baseball player because I’ve been playing baseball for about nine years now and I’m getting pretty good at it.

    So the transformation I made was to loving cops to hating cops and then wanting to be a major league baseball player. The reason I want to play baseball when I grow up is because they make tons of money. The minimum you can make in a year in baseball is $550,00 dollars that’s pretty much.

    "Angel"
    When I was littler I wanted to be a mechanic and a construction worker so I can use my hands and help me release some of my anger and so I can make money so I can buy a car or a house.

    I go to Airway community and I am in eighth grade. I want to be a construction worker only and I can buy a car and a house. I still want to do something with my hands for working.

    When I turn into an adult, I have a job working construction so I also be pump up so I can lift up heavy things like big bags for building things with and for helping people out and I will always have a car and a nice big house for my family and for myself.

    "Nemo"
    I am fourteen and I chose the life to be hanging out with gangs. But its all on me if I chose to kick it with enes. Its all like this now but when I get older it could all change. I could be still a ene or I could have a job and all that instead of the gang life. If I chose to be like that no one can stop me from being the way I am.

    "Alex"
    When I was a little boy, I was like 5 years old. I never did like girls when I was young. Now that I’m older I worship women. That’s what my tought me to worship them, what a transformation that is. Now that I’m 15 years old past I’m all over girls. Its weird when youre young when you haven’t hit puberty then you hit boom you’re crazy about them. That’s all I have to say about transformation.

    "Gino"
    This school year is ¾ over. The whole year I’ve been fighting, talking, etc. I just had a huge behavior problem the whole time. I was always getting suspended, always getting on my teachers nerves and everytime I said “I’ll change.” I never did.

    Now its different, I’m having a transformation. I’m going to be always good. Always do my work and try my hardest to get back o district. If I succeed I will have a positive transformation. A marked change.

    "David"
    Who I am now is a kid. I don’t know where I am going or where I am going to end up down the road but me know is me theres a lot of thangs going on around me and a lot of other people. Negative thangs like people fighting for some stupid things, hopefully thangs could change like people. Like when I was a kid I said thangs like I will never smoke, I will never like boys but that changes. Because when I grew up that changed when I went to partys and got in fights. A lot of people say things but then do different. When I get older I think that I will not be getting into trouble like I am now but thangs are the way they are. Maybe thangs will change and maybe I will grow up some day too.

    "Leo"
    I like things now that I didn’t like before transformation. My transformation is weed. See when I was small I dint even like it. But as I got older and learned about later I started using it. This is my transformation.

    See when I was small I hated people smokin around. I always go some where else so I wouldn’t have to smell it. Then my brothers friends would start bringin it around. But they would tell me that it was bad for you and do it then they would tell me to go away. That way I hated weed when I was small.

    Then I started getting more older and started learning about it more. Then one day my friend showed itto me. He told me what it was. Then he told me when you smoke it you’ll feel funny. Also he said that we shouldn’t do it still. That’s when I learned what weed does to you.

    Well after a while I see a lot of weed in my life and didn’t use it. Well until I found some I didn’t know what it was. Then I went to my friends house with it. We smoked it with a pipe, damn It felt crazy I felt all funny and stuff, but I liked it. That was the first day I tried weed.

    So that’s all for my transformation. I didn’t like weed when I was small. I learned about it when I was older. Then I started to use it too. So that’s my big transformation.

    "Jerry"
    When I was 10 years old I would want to be a basketball player when I would grow. I would also think that having a girlfriend was a waist of time. You would have to be on the phone with them all night. When you would be watching TV or playing video games.

    When I was 12 years old I would have girls talking to me. They would be telling that I was cute. I would be like what the hell, how am I cute? So one time I was in my class and a girl came in and she sat by me. I was doing an assignment and I needed help so I asked her, and she helped me.

    After class we were going to lunch and the girl that helped me with the assignment, came up to me, and she asked me to go walk around with her. After school she asked me what I was going to do after I got home. I told her that I did not know. So she said here, take my number and call me if you do anything.

    So I got home and called her. We started to talk on the phone everyday til like 9 o clock at night. After talking to her everyday I started to like her. I told her that I liked her and that if she wanted to be my girlfriend. So now I think that girls are not of waste of time.

    "Stephen"
    My transformation for me was smoking weed. Now I know you may be thinking, why I even started in the first place. I knew there were lots of bad habits I was putting myself into.

    Now its funny because I cant stand weed. I hate everything about it, the smell, and the taste. I hate everything about it, I use to love it.

    I sometimes thought think that I couldn’t live without it, I smoked before I sleep and when I would wake up, it was almost like the air I breathe, that’s how bad I was getting into it.

    Its crazy how you would feel on drugs, its also funny. I dunno I would always smoke it ,but never ever like the way it made me feel. All lazy and tired hungry, and always wanting to sleep. I thought that when I smoked weed it would make me thinner but look at me now looks like I gotten skinnier.

    I’m very happy that I stopped smoking weed. I feel much better about myself. I cant believe how easy it was for me to stop smoking weed, though it would be hard but it was a piece of cake. I also made people very proud of me.

    "Jesus"
    Negative is one of the most problems that teens have today. But the transformation that needs to be changed is into positive. Because if your mind changes your life will change. It is all up to you to be rich or lay in a ditch.
    If you don’t transfer your mind then you will lay in a ditch. But if you do you will be rich most likely. People gangbang so that they can have enemies and drama. If all the gangbangin stops, I don’t think shooting, fighting would stop. I just think it would came down a lot. But it would be raise on raise so it wont stop.

    "Juan"
    I think if everyone could get along yes I do think that no more schools would get shot up. Transformation will be the day my mind turns into positive. If my mind goes to positive I will not be here next year. But if I don’t I will die or go to prison.

    But no matter how things go I’m always looking for the bad side of things. But that just how my mind is negative. I hope I grow up to get out of the hole. But for now this is how its going.

    "Daniel"
    It is like when you were a little kid you said to yourself that you will not do drugs. When I was 15 years old you started to drugs. All the things that you said to yourself, that you will never do drugs but you do it. Anyway all the things that your parents told to stay away from the drugs but you heard your friends instead of your parents.

    Transformation is like when you are 7 years old. You said to yourself that you will never like girls and you said that girls are gross. But when you’re 15 years old you have a giflreind and you are ready to have a child and you are only 15 but the child you made is all ready a life and you must take care of your children. But now you must learn to you mistake and learn from it and tell your children when they are older. And they can learn from it to not do the same things that your father made when he was a kid.

    Transformation is like you are in school and you get straight F’s and your parents wanted to you get good grades but you are so tired.

  • katie mills

    7.28.06

    Reply
    Loved "The Night I Met Cornel West"

    I’m a professor of writing in East LA, and I loved Laquoia Simmons’ piece. I often wonder/worry about the divide between scholars’ words and the lives of everyday people, and Laquoia does a great job of bridging that gap. I’m eager to share this piece with my students next month when classes begin again. Thanks, Laquoia, for a great sound piece and the essay written afterwards. I’d appreciate hearing from anyone else who has experienced this piece in a classroom setting.

    Katie Mills
    Occidental College
    English Writing

  • Brian Bryan

    8.23.06

    Reply
    Showing some love

    Cheers,

    I’m a little tipsy but I just listened to what I think was an audio sample here and it moved me you know? And I think when something moves you, you should say Thank You, I wanted to say you’re being heard and I want you to be heard by everybody so I’m going to spread the word. Like hey Night I Met Cornel West is something you got to listen to right now or I’m holding out. Because it changed my life and I’m really into it I’ll be listening over and over.

    Sincerely,
    Bribry

  • Roberto2006

    11.14.06

    Reply
    Tatiana Peru

    Es extraño pero perdi a alguien para siempre, y de vez en cuando entro a buscar informacion sobre Tatiana Harrison. Una historia de amor desamor que termino tan mal pero ojala que ella este bien y algun dia pueda verla y decirle… y que tal?

  • Dagoberto

    3.13.07

    Reply
    I missed Rogelio "Panchitas" Bautista

    I came to Santa Rosa In 1997. I went to Luther Burbank Elementary, that was the place where I saw my true friend Rogelio. I didn’t knew how to Speak English at that time. Rogelio was the first friend I ever had in Elementary school.Then He moved when we were in fifth grade, I saw him in Cook Middle school. On the first day he was one who talked to me. I wasn’t in a gang or anything but that wasn’t a barrier for Rogelio and I to be friends. When I heard the News that he was shot, I cried a lot, why because I couldn’t believe that my friend Rogelio was dead. When I remember him I want to cried. Right now at this moment am crying because a lot of wonderful memories come to my mind. I missed my homeboy, my friend, my bro, ROGELIO "PANCHITAS" BAUTISTA

    Sincerely, Dagoberto C.

  • Jose

    4.04.08

    Reply
    Jose From East l.a

    I’m a subscribed member to the Youth Cast Podcast. Every other week i hear different stories of youth across the country telling their story, sometimes their funny, sometimes they’re boring. This story for instance was kinda moving. It’s funny how although i never met Rogelio, everything said reminded me of times here in East l.a. Mothers crying, kids growing up fatherless, friends of mine going to one funeral after another, wondering when will this shit end. I feel sorta bad for the friends and family but the worst pain is a mother losing her son. She migrates from Mexico wanting a better life for her kid but never really expects him to hang out with people that would get him in trouble and eventually bring him to his demise. To those reading this message thinking of revenging his death, i can only say that instead of helping the situation you’re only making things worse. Why? The cycle will continue, mothers will cry, brothers will continue being angry, friends will avenge death and eventually as LATINOS (ie. Mexicans) we’re all gonna kill each other off. If you really want to make his death mean something. Educate yourselves and dedicate good deeds to him. Who know, you might even be educated enough where you can become a cop and ruin the public record of the person/s whom you seek revenge on, lol, just thinking outside the box. Anyways, i know i pretty much talked out of my ass but i hope some of the information comes in useful. Thanks, Jose from East l.a (No gang affiliation!)

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