“I’ve been here since I was two, so I’ve been here all my life. When I was young, coming up, it was cool. We used to come outside and play. Everything was smooth. Nowadays, you gotta watch where you’re walking. You can be at the wrong place at the wrong time and not even know it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing my neighborhood, I love my community. We still got good folks around here and it’s just hard. I just hope that we can do something to make it better.
I grew up doing reckless shit. I was fortunate because I had my mother and my father but my father was in the military, so he wasn’t around much. I got into the streets, you know, I was breaking into cars and doing all the mischievous shit that youngins do. I could say that it was hard but it was all up to me on how I wanted my life to go. I chose to do what everyone else was doing. I wanted to follow the crowd. I followed and got into gang shit. That’s just not where it’s at.
A life-changing moment for me is when I met my girlfriend and her family. I came up in the church but I veered off from it. So, when I got with her, I got back into church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint but I go to church every Sunday and I pray and I’m in the word.
Now, I have a daughter and she’s four years old. If it weren't’ for her and my girl and her kids, I couldn’t see myself being the man that I am now. I’m proud of the man I am, especially coming where I come from.
I grew up around OGs and I was always taught that the knowledge that’s passed down to you, you have teach it to the younger ones. I want to go out here and help some of the young guys that are going through what I’ve been through. I wanna help them.
Just being involved in someone else’s life helps them. It’ll help if a person has someone to talk to about what they’re going through. The problem is that a lot of us don’t have anyone to talk to. If we had someone to have a heart to heart with, I’m pretty sure that a lot of people would be straight. I just wanna help the young people that are thinking about giving up.” - Brandon, Portland