With all of the various factors in the world, children often forget about things that require imagination. Things like Dungeons and Dragons, and Yu-Gi-Oh seem like a thing of the past. Then you encounter youth, like Lawrence, who reminded you why your imagination is still apart of life. Lawrence, who is a 13 year old up-coming rapper, lives in North Philadelphia and attends Girard Academy Music Program (GAMP) in South Philadelphia; he enjoys bird watching, music, photography and playing games. However, his imagination is interrupted as he travels to and from school, due to the things he has to be aware of on a daily.
Curious about the view Of North Philadelphia through the eyes of a present day teenager, I interviewed Lawrence about his life in North Philly. Wanting to compare the times remembered to what they are like now, Lawrence not only emphasized the precautions of living in North Philly, but he also drew a light to the diversity that he witnesses everyday. He said, “Living in North Philly is good when you look at its racial and cultural diversity. It is somewhere everyone is welcome.” However, he began to point out a lot of things that youth should not have to worry about. While Lawrence enjoys his youth with his friends and telling jokes while in the hallways of school, he also is aware if the things happening around him. As the conversation continued, Lawrence addressed the major issues of his community, “North Philly is also bad because of the gun violence and the police brutality, I have to be aware of everything.” He continued, “I cannot count how many times someone has followed me in stores.” It is unfortunate that those are things he has to worry about in addition to his next joke or his next move when he’s playing Dungeons and Dragons.
As a community, these are things we must draw our attention to and begin the discussion of eliminating these things from the minds of out youth. Lawrence has a plan to use his music to ignite change and draw attention to these issues he is presented with. He also said, “I would add more education related opportunities and more jobs for the children under eighteen, like cleaning the block.”
As a community, it is our job to take care of the youth in every aspect. It is important that we begin to ask the youth about how we can help them with things they need in order to expand their futures. There are a lot of youth, like Lawrence, who have plans for change and we must make sure they all become actions. I agree with Lawrence! Let’s create more opportunities for our youth and allow them to be creative and imaginative. Let us know what you think in the comment section.