Open Letter To America's Black Youth About Gun Violence
Several years ago, I found myself at a crossroads in my life. If not for a helping hand at just the right time, I might not be here to offer these words of advice and encouragement. I definitely fit the description of an "at risk" youngster.
I was an inner-city tough guy. That was my life, my culture. It defined me. I wasn't worried about my future. Future? Ha! My future was today, tonight. Tomorrow was never a sure thing.
So what happened? How did I escape? Why am I now preaching against the life that once looked so "cool"? For this column, let's just say a very special teacher saw something in me that I didn't even see. He taught me the game of chess and with that simple act, he saved my life. I owe him so much and one way I'm paying him back is by living every day to save other young people who are in trouble or potentially stand to make poor decisions.
We are surrounded by so much pain and heartache. You can't turn on the news without being faced with a litany of domestic violence, carjacking, robberies, and kidnappings. Violence is something that has always plagued this world. It is so important to learn that hostility gains you nothing in life. Peaceful compromises are the way to solve your dilemmas. Why is the world so angry? Perhaps we will never know the answer to that.
Using the game of chess, I founded an organization several years ago based upon a simple premise: Be someone, not something. Your actions speak louder than your words, and that is often forgotten. There is no reason in this world why two people cannot sit down with a game of chess or something similar and use their mind power to put hostility and sore feelings behind them. Use creativity and your mind in a unique way to solve your differences. Violence gets you nowhere but behind bars.
Taking someone else's life is one of the most unholy sins a person can commit. Consider what that family has to go through and what yours will go through knowing that you did this. Did you see the recent story in Chicago? A beautiful young lady who had recently performed at President Obama's inauguration in Washington was shot and killed by gang members firing weapons indiscriminately. Think of the pain and heartbreak.
Remember this simple statement, "Brains before bullets, think it out, don't shoot it out!" I teach this and my students are hearing me but I need to reach more young people than those I'm able to meet in my classes.
Everyday lives are taken for no reason at all or for something menial. No matter what it is, a gun is never the answer to solving your problems.
I have dedicated my life to teaching young people that they can succeed. They can make the right choices that will lead them places they have only dreamed of going if someone can reach them. I believe God gave me that ability and capability.
This is my message to young people: Learn how to take charge of your life. I want to help you do that. I have guided and mentored many young people who others have given up on. I offer a calm voice and a steady hand that has weathered numerous tests.
I believe every child has the potential to succeed. That's what guides my presentations and my classes. Take my instruction, and use it constructively in your everyday life to become that upstanding citizen that you desire to be. Be a success, not a casualty. You can be productive in life, you can go places, and you do have support to help you get there.
So many young people forget that life is beautiful, and if your chance to take advantage of all it has to offer is taken away either by your own hand or another's; you will live with many regrets. Let's have more successes and challenge your mind, put the guns away!
About Orrin "Checkmate" Hudson
Orrin "Checkmate" Hudson was an at-risk young person growing up in Birmingham, AL, when a teacher taught him the game of chess demonstrating to him that for every move - either on the game board or in the game of life - there are consequences. It changed his life. He went on to become an Alabama State Trooper and later founded Be Someone, Inc., an organization devoted to teaching young people there are consequences for their actions and that they can choose to succeed in life. He not only teaches classes, but delivers motivational speeches around the country. Please invite author and international speaker Orrin Checkmate Hudson to energize your next event by visiting www.besomeone.org