In 1992, rap artist Ice Cube released a song called “How to Survive in South Central” on his album titled “Death Certificate.” Along with his social and political commentary, there was a unique message in the song that was specifically directed as an instruction manual to young folks who happen to live not only in Los Angeles but in any urban environment.
Although the language and lyrics are extremely harsh and even profane in some regard, the message is effectively delivered with the bitter taste of reality. In light of the recent increase in violence and other concerns involving youth in and around our community, maybe we need an instruction manual on how to survive here.
Rule No. 1: Think before you act. The simple but effective process of thought will help you avoid making critical mistakes that could cost you your freedom, education or your life. “. . . Thinking ability will safeguard you.” — Proverbs.
Rule No. 2: Youth, trust your parents. A responsible parent knows what is best for your well-being. Even if you have to sacrifice your reputation with your friends, your loyalty should be with your parents. Friends will come and go but your parents will be an unconditional and lifelong source of love and support. Don’t get this confused!
Rule No. 3: Do not be a follower. Avoid being part of the crowd. Without being a loner, you can separate yourself from the group of people who are not involved in positive things and still have a social life. Avoid following popular trends that could lead to a high-risk lifestyle, such as becoming so obsessed with materialism that you will do illegal activities to obtain certain things.
Rule No. 4: Be humble. In the current environment, it is popular to be haughty or arrogant. Such attitudes tend to prevent an individual from developing healthy relationships. Being humble allows you to be open to learning from elders and making adjustment to become a better person.
Rule No. 5: Establish a set of values. There are many deep cultural, social and spiritual values that will benefit all people. However, I recommend three simple and basic set of values for youth: life, education, freedom. If you place a high value on each of these and consider them in your decisions, it will affect the choices you make. Put simply, if you value your life you will think twice about drinking and driving. If you value your education you won’t threaten a teacher, which will get you expelled. If you value your freedom, you will avoid criminal behavior the could lead to incarceration.
With an alarming increase in violence, criminal activity and expulsions, I can’t help but to compare Fairfield/Suisun to the small Bay Area town of East Palo Alto. It erupted in such violence in 1992 that it earned national attention as one of the most violent cities in the nation. Fortunately, I survived living in the area at the time as a student intern at a community center.
The similarities are frightening. Since 1992, East Palo Alto has made drastic changes that improved the quality of life for youth, including investing in a multimillion-dollar Boys and Girls Club, a YMCA and two high schools. I believe we need to continue to support a variety of youth activities and outreach programs to help prevent juvenile crime and violence.
These are just a few very necessary tips on how youth can survive and succeed.
Deon Price is a youth life skills coach and freelance writer who lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]