Monday, June 30, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
As a maturing child, I always had dreams and aspirations of getting out of my inner-city Chicago neighborhood for several reasons. Some of those reasons included my wish to become a world-traveler and be immersed in several different cultures, my desire to attend a top academic university, and most importantly, the longing to get out of the neighborhood where crime was high and the level of education was low. The reason I am speaking of my childhood desires is because it shows a great connection with the realities of today. Over the last two years, I have constantly seen headlines such as: “Another Chicago Student Killed,” on the front page of the Chicago Sun Times and other periodicals. In fact, some of those murdered students were either friends of mine or attended my high school. The fact that two or more years can equate to today’s current event in the news is completely unacceptable.
Last year, thirty-two Chicago public school students were killed and this year the numbers are just as high. Why should those my age have their lives taken before they are able to reach their full potential? Why should they have to forfeit their dreams? In my published poem entitled “What’s It Like,” I expressed some my feelings of what was occurring around me:
“So its starts as so - blood and tears, blood and tears. Why does it seem to be the only thing youth has shed in the last few years? Gun violence rages through our communities, like a never departing shadow. It's time for us to stand up, our pride and fear, we evidently must swallow.”
I recall the time when I was writing this poem, the way the tears rolled off my face like the rain from the clouds above. It’s so hard getting through something that seems like it will never end. I know the hurt and pain that I feel inside does not come close to comparison with the victim. So I begin to wonder, am I next? Will I be the next student to be shot down because I was caught in crossfire? Will I have those around me grieving because another Chicago student was killed or because Alex was murdered? At this point in time, I completely detest reading the newspaper because crime and murder is all I read.
I feel like I am here for a very special reason. My name is Alex Echols which additively means ‘protector of mankind’ on this ‘battlefield.’ As a college student and growing young adult, I will continue to profess the need for the decreasing of violence and the increasing of mentoring. I will continue to live fearless with my guard up. I will continue to pray for the victims around me. At a young age, I knew if I wanted to get out of my neighborhood, I was going to have to work. By God’s grace, I made it through high school and hopefully will make it through college and come out as a wiser soul. So you ask me, “Why is this news so important to me?” It’s because I hope that at the end of my journey, I would have saved at least one life. For once, the headline of the Chicago Sun Times would read, “We made it!” Ultimately, this is for the sixty-five Chicago students whose lives were taken. God Bless.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
1) My 'other' grandmother went to be in the Lord's Army.
2) I went to the LA Reporter's KeyArt awards which was amazing to me
3) I found out a lot about myself - I want to be a forever learner and become a freaking production BEAST
4)I have seen several celebs this weekend. Paul Pierce, PJ Brown, Kevin Garnett, Loretta Devine, the guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and a bunch of others who's names I can not recall.
Continue to Believe and Work Hard
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
"The Open Society Institute's U.S. Programs announced a new campaign to address the exclusion of African American men and boys from the economic and political mainstream in the United States.
Today's announcement comes on the heels of a growing body of research revealing that the isolation and negative outcomes for African American men and boys is more extreme than previously acknowledged. For example, more than 50 percent of all African American boys do not finish high school and a mere 18 percent of black males aged 18 to 21 are enrolled in college. A black child was more likely to grow up with both parents during the era of slavery than today, and nationally 13 percent of black men cannot vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.
Building on U.S. Programs' previous work to promote racial justice and reduce over-incarceration, the campaign aims to reform educational outcomes and improve economic well-being.
"The problems facing men and boys in the African American community do not exist in a vacuum. This is America's problem," said Geoffrey Canada, (in photo) president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone and a board member for U.S. Programs.
OSI's campaign, which in its first year will devote $2 million to programmatic development, will support individuals and organizations working to develop alliances among scholars, social justice organizations, the arts and culture industry, as well as other philanthropic endeavors to address black male achievement. The campaign's first grantees are the Center for Urban Families, for its innovative Responsible Fatherhood strategy, which connects a strong direct service program with public policy, and the 21st Century Foundation, for its Black Men and Boys Initiative."
To learn more, visit the website here. For a pic of the Institute's founder, see my previous post here.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Will I miss reading scripts, will I miss not being talked to by peers, will I miss this place? Yeah, even hours before my final moment, I tend to think about the 'ups' of reading relatively good scripts, but that is all I am doing: reading other individuals expressions of personal creativity. I think that's when I realize that my personal termination will be all worth it when I gain more chances to play basketball with new friends, when I do get to focus on working to the MAX, and just doing what I enjoy for the time being- you know, this is summer [ like my last seemingly -non-real-worldil-summer-before-i-go-over-the-hill-summer]. Why not write the screenplays I am reading? Why not begin the books that I have been talking about for months now? Why not do coverage on my own stuff? Life is all about finding your own expression. It's kinda like I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to my dreams, but I even think that's total bullshit because everything is possible - if you want something, go after it, and allow God to make it yours. It matters not how many times you get knocked down or rejected, but it matters how many times you get back up and say, 'My failures will not overshadow my ultimate success.' I am just too 'rich' to live life as if it is not a present and to think I am just like every other person in this world. According to what we usually read in our local newspapers, my life would be as so:
'I am a black seed born to the hood from premarital sex where my father leaves three weeks prior because his angst is matched with stupidity and ignorance. I become a teenager and begin looking for the love that my parents did not show me. I find it in girls and in the streets gangs that take me in as their family. Toting my gun, I think it can act as a cover for my insecurity and utter wanting of compassion and true love. I either drop out of high school or I get all the way to my senior year. Two weeks before I am set to barely pass and graduate, I get my girlfriend pregnant, I get killed, I lose my life.'
Luckily for me, I was blessed to have such a great immediate family. I have had some negative fish in my sea of friends, but still, I survive. My life has not been a walk in the park, but I also understand that there are some people who have not even been close to 'a walk in society.' I gotta understand that I will meet many setbacks and failures, but I also gotta believe that I can and will be very successful. If you don't believe in yourself, who will? Man of Courage, Woman of Faith, Whatever you may be, be it to the fullest - live it and adorn it. "The future only belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.'
Vandy in Hollywood
University of Dreams
Summer in Beverly Hills
Welcome to the West Coast
Say Hello to Alex