Inspiring Story

Onaje Mu'id

MSW and CASAC (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor) with the Practitioners Research and Scholarship Institute (PRASI)

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Sure I can think of many but one in particular, an individual whose name I can't say, came in through the court system. He had committed crimes, sold drugs, been incarcerated before and had gotten in fights, and when he came in sought to hear that there is another way of thinking -- that he was denied a whole sense of himself. See when we go to school If you and I were to go to school and go to like a dance or a picnic or something like that, and someone were to take pictures of us and we were to get those pictures back, it would be a natural reaction to look at those pictures for yourself. I wouldn't have to tell you to do that, you would just do that naturally. Why? It's something about the human spirit that wants to be affirmed to say that you exist, it's a natural thing. But when we go to school we're not taught that, we are not given back the reflection of ourselves so school becomes a very dehumanizing event. And who wants to go someplace and get dehumanized? Nobody.

So after a while people start dropping out. If you look at the high dropout rates, particularly with African Americans and Latino Americans in the United States, it has all to do with the school system. They don't see a positive reflection of themselves. They say, "Well you're not talking about me, and if you're not talking about me, why am I here? I'm not interested." It's again looking into a picture and not seeing yourself. So they get disenchanted with school and they dropout, you dropout you do what other people around you are doing, you start selling drugs, so forth and so on. When this person was introduced to their history they started to realize how much he didn't know. And when that hit him and when he realized it was designed that way for him not to know, he got real angry. Then what do you do with that anger? Do you go out and be self-destructive or do you start to use it in a way where you can start building? So that person was concerned with his younger brother, he didn't want his younger brother to wind up the same way he did. So he wound up coming to the groups more often and getting more involved and this person became a leader in the organization in terms of advocating for this information. One thing led to another and this person graduated and is doing well.