See beyond the view

“The sky is not the limit but only the view.” – Taraji P Henson

Hi, my name is Raven and I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. I am a 17-year-old senior in high school which might I add is rare in my neighborhood. See I am an honors student, captain of the basketball team in a predominantly white school that has the highest graduation rate. Most girls my age in my neighborhood are pregnant with their third baby by my age but I did not want to limit myself by my surroundings so I decided to push for greater than what I’d seen within the walls of my hood.

See I go to a private academy across town. The basketball coach recruited me. I have a full ride to get a better education than I should be getting. I take three buses to get to school and I must say it is worth it but I hate that I have to track through all the bad neighborhoods to get there.

Daily, outside the bus stop, I am told by the girls in the neighborhood that I am doing too much and nobody ever makes it out of our hood. I have gotten jumped three times and told to stop trying to make them look bad and that’s just the half of it.

They’ve done everything to discourage me. I’ve been called everything from a ho to crack baby but I guess there is a reason for that my mother is Nova Thomas and she is known around my hood for prostitution and selling herself for drugs and being her daughter isn’t easy.

I recently had a group of guys come up to me on the bus and throw money at me and ask me what they could get for five dollars a-pieces. Sadly, nobody on the bus said or did anything so I just put headphones in and looked out the window and cried. When I got to school I ran and told the one teacher who has been encouraging me that I can make it out of these walls that have left scars so deep within me.

Miss Jenkins, she is the only reason I believe I can make it out. She told me basketball looks great on an application but she wants me to really use my mind to get to where I want to be. She bought me a journal and told me to write out what I want to do with my life once I leave Joneson Academy.

Unfortunately, she and I are the only ones that believe I can make. See most people see a young girl like me and only can visualize the stigmatism of an uneducated black female on government aid. I was told even by my own mother that the best I could do was lay on my back and collect funds from the government because the world I see on television is not for little black girls like me. Sadly, my mother allowed society to tell her who she was going to be before she had the opportunity to discover who she was truly destined to be.

Still, I choose to be the woman God has always told me I could be so I study hard to avoid the negativity and pray my senior year I prove too little girls around me that our reality is not based on what they think we should be but what God says we are destined to be.

Miss Jenkins is the first black woman I know to go as far as a Ph.D. She is now helping me apply to colleges since I scored a perfect score on both my ACT and SAT. She told me that the sky is not the limit but just merely the view and with these test scores, I can go to any college in the country. My coach told me that my best chances for college was basketball but I told him my best chances are to focus on my education and that basketball was a choice but not my only chance.

It is now April and I have been accepted to Havard University. I plan to be a pre-med student. Sadly, Miss Jenkins is not around to see me accept.

Stay tuned to what happened to Miss Jenkins.

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