I remember like it was yesterday.
College student, Kemba Smith was tried, convicted and later sentenced to 24.5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Having never been in trouble with the law before, and having no prior criminal record, many would later deem her a casualty of America’s unjust prison system and its excessive punishments.
Seven months pregnant, Kemba turned herself into authorities for her participation in her boyfriend’s multi-million-dollar drug ring.
“I did not traffic in drugs but I knew my boyfriend did,” says Kemba. “I knew that while living with him he did not have a job and we were living off the proceeds of his drug crimes. I never claimed total innocence and this is the reason why I pleaded guilty.”
What Kemba did not know was that due to mandatory minimum sentencing laws, she’d be forced to serve all two hundred ninety-four months with no possibility of parole.
Now to my point at hand.
From where I sit, after all of the statistics have been mapped as adjoined to the harsh realities of an evil and unjust prison system, there’s a bit of room for discussing another important piece. In my travels and while speaking
on college campuses, I’m witnessing a growing number of students in pseudo courtrooms (sanctioned university hearings) as opposed to their classrooms.
From off-campus fighting to disputes and shootings, campuses are microcosms of a nation plagued by its violence. Let’s be clear, my position herein is not nestled in blaming the victim. This information is hopefully central to you never becoming a victim, i.e. a statistic. This is for those students seeking to staying focused void of outside and negative noises.
So simply put, I side with your parents when they say, “Watch the company you keep!”
Assess those you spend the most of your time with
Ask yourself if they’re good for where you’re trying to go in life. One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is couched in not placing a value on our time and space. If you don’t value you and yours, who will?
Control your environment as you control your temperament
Not only are some of your peers not good for you, but they’re no good for themselves. Back to that value point, you’re in complete control of who you let in and who you escort out your life. Stay in control personally. Pray if you must and stay focused!
Think about the relationships you’re in or the ones you’re pursuing.
What do you stand to lose if you stay? What do you stand to gain if you leave? Take heed to good relationship advice! Every option isn’t a viable choice. Don’t try to make an (A) grade out of a (F)ailing situation.
Remember, all it takes is one bad choice in one bad situation to frustrate your entire life. Don’t play around; A.C.T.!
Dr. Chandra Gill is the CEO of Blackademically Speaking, a cutting edge educational consulting firm. She’s an award-winning motivational speaker and author of “Champions Break Chains and Black Genes-Black Genius: A Motivational Handbook to Empower Black Youth.” She’s on a mission to motivate and educate youth worldwide. See her inspire and empower youth here.