Dear Child of Oakland,
My name is Remar and I have been incarcerated for 18 years now. When I was out I had never thought I would end up in the penal system. I did not listen to my dad and grandparents and told myself “I can do it my way”. I was wrong.
Let me tell you how I ended up in this place. I am hoping that you will not end up like me. At first I had a hard time at school I was being bullied and getting into fights which continued for quite some time. I did not know how to deal with the situation correctly and it profoundly affected me. So I dealt with it in a way I only knew how- keeping it to myself. I started cutting classes to avoid getting beat up. I never resorted to drug. I did not tell anyone what I was going through and was good at hiding my fear.
Soon after, fear took control of me. I decided to confront these other kids in my own way, not thinking of the consequences of my actions. During this time, so called “friends” came along to my aid. I was hoping that the outcome would be just like one of too many movies where the bad guys get their butt kicked by the victim and they all leave him alone after. Oh, I wish it as so. However, things went from bad to worse. I was sought after by these kids and fear was constant in my mind. Living with my grandparents at the time so it was easy for me not to show them my true emotions.
To make a long story short, I took a young man’s life. An innocent bystander that did not have anything to do with this at all. He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when I succumbed to fear and stupidity. To this day, I resent what I did to this young man; his family and friends; my family and friends; and my community. I always pray that his family and friends can forgive me for taking their loved one away.
Before I took matters into my own hands I felt helpless. The pressure in me was overwhelming as if the world was on my shoulders ready to crush me at anytime. If I knew then what I know now I would have done things differently. I had a choice; choice to tell my family what I was going through and choice to inform a teacher and / or police I was getting harassed at school. Perhaps this would not have happened if I chose the right decision.
Although so many things have changed, I have grown physically, mentally, and last but not least spiritually; the memory of that fateful day I took someone’s life will always be with me. I don’t know what you are going through as you are writing this letter. You might be struggling with your studies, getting bullied at school, in a gang or clique, not on good terms with your family or foster family, or whatever it may be. You might be feeling the world is against you and you have no one else. You might have been told lies that you will never amount to anything or you will end up just like your dad or mom. Please do not take matters into your own hands. Drugs, violence, or taking your own life is never the answer. You are special and you have a bright future ahead. So, don’t ruin it.
I hope my letter will inspire you to make right decision and empower you to strive for better. I know life is full of challenges and heartaches. Believe me, I’ve been there. Find someone you can trust to talk with – family member, teacher, school counselor, or a pastor. If I have the way to help you choose the right decision, I would be there in every way. Remember, you always have a choice, to always take the right path in life.