July 29 2015

Being at the Sons & Brothers Camp was something that was very different for me. To start off, I didn’t have my phone which was pretty different from my normal day in Los Angeles. While I was up in Portola, CA for camp, I was able to think about things more clearly. There were fewer distractions and I could really focus on what other people were saying in the police brutality, social justice, LGBTQ, community-building, and artistic workshops.  I loved the poetry workshop because I learned a lot about myself. I didn’t even know I could write a poem in the first place, and I wrote my poem about injustices going on in my community and the lack of love that me and my peers feel.  I want to break the tradition of gang violence in my community, break the tradition that showing love makes you weak.

Camp has helped me get into the habit of having an open mind and a new perspective when I’m at home or in my community. I don’t feel blinded as much. I’m more aware of the negative perceptions that people have of boys and men of color and how important it is to change that. I’m also more aware of the history of racism in our country. Police were originally “slave-catchers.” When you think about it, slavery and segregation aren’t that old, and racism gets passed down to younger generations because they’re looking up to the older people around them. I think police brutality and other kinds of racism are going to go away, but it’s going to take time.

The Camp was like the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, but on a bigger scale. I am a youth leader with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition in Los Angeles County this year, where we’re putting our ideas together and working to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline. I love it because we’re a diverse group. We’re Black, Latino and Asian and Pacific Islander. I like that we stay strong for our Asian and Pacific Islander brothers because it’s not something that a lot of people do or know about.  I loved the Sons & Brothers Camp for the same reasons. I got to meet other young people from across California who are doing the same work that I’m doing in Los Angeles. We got to bond and share strategies about how we’re trying to uplift our Black and Brown communities.

Young men test their skills and self-confidence on an obstacle course.
Young men test their skills and self-confidence on an obstacle course.

The obstacle courses were also something that were fun because we were challenged to name each obstacle course as one of the challenges we face everyday. One of the obstacles was a wall, and you had to work with your team to get pushed up and then pulled over the wall.  I remember that one of my peers named the wall “fear of dying” because he thought about that too much. Another person said “not living in the present” because he felt that he had trouble with thinking too much about the past or future. It made me feel awesome to be a part of their change.

I’m going to take the brotherhood that we all built in a week at the Sons & Brothers Camp back to my community to make it a better place.