Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
Like a thief in the night, crack stole my father from me. When I was one, he was sentenced to two years. When I was four, another two. When I was nine, he left for another. When I was eleven, another one. When I would learn of his arrest, it was like the rug was being pulled from beneath me.
In elementary school, I kept his incarceration a secret. Growing up without a father was crippling and embarrassing. I watched as my predominantly white friends’ fathers dropped them off at school, attended back to school night, and chaperoned our field trips. I feared the day when someone would ask about my father. I prepared a response: “he lives somewhere else.”
While struggling to provide for his grandmother, who raised him, he fell victim to the streets: he became a dealer. He began to sell the same drug that led to the demise of his parents to his people. Cocaine drug him towards the point of no return and thwarted him into the vicious cycle of most repeat offenders: sell drugs, feel rich, re-up, sell more, get caught, serve time, vow to stop, be released, repeat. Growing up, this was the pattern in which I witnessed my dad become so terribly practiced.
Unfortunately, this pattern became normalized and I began to convince myself that I was fine. It was not until the day before my eighth-grade graduation that I began to understand the totality of my circumstances. This time, my dad had been sentenced to 19 years in prison, and I could not hide it. This time, it was featured in the local newspaper: Seaside Man Sentenced to 19 Years for Drug Dealing. Crack struck again.
I am his daughter; however, I am determined not to share his fate. I will break this generational curse. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me. For a long time, I blamed my father; I fight everyday to be different than what society has produced in him; at the same time, I understand that he is a product of the crack epidemic.Published in