Rahkim speaking to students at MVHS
On the first Monday of the year I walked through the doors of a High School I’d graduated from 10 years prior. The students watched me as I navigated the halls; not a student, yet not a teacher or administrator. I walked through the metal detectors, a strong memory of my high school’s past and was greeted warmly, “Rahkim right? What year did you graduate again?”
I was there to give back to a group I felt for. A group I CAME from. I spoke on the topics of Mentorship, Financial Literacy, and real world application of Networking. I spoke on my own journey to success, and how I define that success. “Success to me is paying it forward” I said, “ 10 years ago I was sitting in your seats wanting to do what I’m doing right now.” When I brought up An Extended Hand, Inc., a non-profit I cofounded focused on ending homelessness I was asked, “Why are you trying to end homelessness? There will always be homelessness, it’s a never ending battle!” To which I replied, “should I then sit and do nothing when I’m capable of changing at least one life at a time?” The student then replied, “But it’s their fault!” to which I responded that it wasn’t their fault, and that there are many homeless people his age who don’t even have a means to support themselves.
He quieted. As did the rest of the room.
When I reflected on this interaction and the lesson in my words to both him and the other students I couldn’t help but to reflect on the irony present. Of the consistency in thought many adults dealing with these young people probably share, “it’s their fault.”
It’s their fault they misbehave.
It’s their fault they have bad grades.
It’s their fault they give up on their dreams.
It’s their fault they fight and can’t communicate effectively.
No, it’s OUR fault for not acknowledging and accepting them.
For not mentoring and encouraging them.
For not loving them.
My answer, “should I then sit and do nothing when I’m capable of changing at least one life at a time?” is the labor of love, love I will and do readily give, no matter how endless the battle might be.