Once upon a time, I was the boy on the left and would have believed what my life became. Didn’t even plan to live. I thought I’d never make it to 25. By 20 I was in Bangkok. By 23 in Japan. I took myself to the other ends of the Earth. I wouldn’t believe it back then, so I’m just glad I never quit life. Can you imagine how many youths need you, and I mean you specifically, to help them see their future? Do it! There are thousands more like me, who need you, right now.
Twenty years apart. It’s been a lifetime’s worth of change. Somebody took the bottom picture of me cuttin high school to be a wino on the senior cut day and not planning to live past 25. I was an alcoholic by the time I was 15 and unaware of the future I was creating. The top picture is also me, but at 35 looking back with my little girl at the hopeless boy who didn’t plan to live this long like, “I’m just happy to be here.”
I used to keep a knife in a sheath on my leg. I mighta had a few red tops of coke stashed in the lining of my coat too. Either that or I was still running with the robbing crew. I’m eternally grateful to a brother named Pure Sun who walked me into the Five Percent culture, at a time when most others had given up on me because every day was a storm at that age. I sought refuge under the shade of liquor bottles and split cigars.
My escapes only brought me closer to the chaos I hoped to elude. The pain was a part of me, and it was becoming me. I tried to feed it but it only grew. So I started killing every part of myself, from the inside out. And still, I couldn’t expel the demons that haunted my soul and tormented my dreams…
And then I woke up.
Once you begin waking up, you don’t keep going back to old patterns of foolishness. Feels good to look back on this side of myself, knowing twenty years later, I got a full bottle of wine downstairs and I barely even remember it’s there. Seems I’ve been a lot of people in these 35 years. It’s that diversity of experience and perspective that helps me keep my lens at a wide-angle.
My daughters once asked me, “What did you want to become when you were younger?”
I told em, “I didn’t plan to live this long. I didn’t plan to live past 25. I figured I’d die at somebody else’s hands. So I imagined myself somewhere high off some powder and somebody blowing my whole head off with a shotgun. I wanted to go out with a bang. This was my dream for the future.” Really. My brother Ram can confirm that this is where we were thinking as teenagers. They just looked like wtf. I continued, “I’ve lived a full life though. Been through it all. So I’m glad I figured out what works for me.”
I went to college after droppin outta high school and then being told I wasn’t college material. I graduated with honors and eventually got a doctorate at 26. I only think I could’ve got it at 25 if I’d really applied myself. It’s all about how you push for what you’ve envisioned!
My doctorate is in Education, specifically focusing on Non-Formal Education with High-Risk Populations. I got a doctorate in education to test my ideas. The same year I was fighting for my freedom because of a felony. I wrote my dissertation on the Nation of Gods and Earths and our contributions to the world of education. I dug into our pedagogy, connecting our model of non-formal education to what would work for anyone seeking to “teach” young black men today.
But I got more outta studying 120 than I did outta college and grad school combined. Seriously…I learned more from studying, researching, and applying Supreme Mathematics, the Supreme Alphabet, and 120 Degrees, as well as all the “extracurricular” studies that spring offa that, than I did in four years of college, a masters program, an educational specialist program, and a doctoral program.
Imagine if Sun (rip) had decided not to waste his time teaching me anything. I damn sure wouldn’t be here to tell you this today! Raise somebody up this weekend! You can! And they need it! If you’ve ever been inspired by anything I share, pay it forward and raise up somebody dead (with love)! You never know who you could inspire!
I came across the Five Percent when I was 15, running the streets, going thru one of my rites of passage. It was the knowledge I’d always been looking for. It wasn’t all pretty getting KOS in Jersey City in the 90s, not at all like the safe voyage people want nowadays. But that’s why you don’t see people out here attacking my name. I have been in this life and it’s really all I know. It’s all that most people know about me. And most of the OGs in this struggle support my work and know my history.
I’ve had a few guns in my face since then, but nobody squeezed. It’s been bout 20 years since I first came up with my vision for the future. I rewrote that. If you want to “change the game” the first game plan you gotta change is your own. I developed a voracious appetite for knowledge because I wanted to understand why things were so bad in this world and in my personal life.
There’s not a lot of Bengali brothers like me out here cause it’s a weird mix of tragedy and triumph that got me here. I’ve been falsely arrested, surveilled, gotten death threats, and been sabotaged a dozen times over. All while doing my best to take care of my family. It’s part of the job and I embrace it. Now I stay teaching my daughters the science of what it really means to be the earth. Among those who really live it out, there’s no greater beauty. I see my daughters reproducing my history and it’s amazing to watch. Especially since they’re doing better than I did when I went through it (parenting = passing down game).