My Voice – S. Brown

My name is Shukur Brown #945408 I am 24yrs old currently serving a 20yr to 40 yr sentence for accidentally killing my bestfriend when I was 16yrs old.

I grew up poor, with hand-me-downs, no lights, no gas, no electricity, no food nor water, or having one and not the other. I can remember coming home from school and the lights are off and me flicking the switch to no avail or going to the refrigerator to get something to eat, but the fridge was empty then coming back 30 to 45 minutes later knowing its nothing in there but just hoping, just hoping that my mom or dad had brought something to eat. We were evicted and stayed with this family member and the next one. At one point we lived with my grandmother and there was 16 people in one house, but through it all I was still the light of the family, always smiling and trying to help. My family loved to be around me because I always had a good heart and kept everyone laughing but seeing other people with things that are a necessity like good clothes, food, water and lights struck something in me and made me angry at life, but ultimately at my parents. I asked why so many times. I didn’t understand how the family down the street was living better than us or why my aunt’s kids had all the nice clothes and were never hungry. So, at 13yrs old I told myself that I had to get money for not only me but my 3 siblings. I started selling drugs, smoking weed and hanging in the streets more with my cousin who is 5yrs older than me. I started making “good” money from selling drugs I was able to buy food and eat when I wanted. I was able to get them new shoes and clothes to go to school in and support my weed habit. I even helped out with a few bills. I still went to school and actually got good grades when I wasn’t kicked out for fighting or acting out. I had a bad temper that never received the right treatment. Then one day when I was 14yrs old I got robbed for my phone some money and my product. That hurt me to the core. How was I going eat? What was I to do? it was a turning point for me. After that I was in the fast lane. breaking and entering, robbing, stealing, shoot outs, you name it. I was doing any and everything to get money and wasn’t thinking twice. That was the immaturity in me not thinking about the consequences and the effect I was having on other people’s lives. It was a way of life for me. I was heading down the wrong path with no one pushing me down the righteous one. I could have been anything; a basketball player, football player and even a boxer. I enjoyed doing all of them, but I had all the wrong influences around me pushing me to do negatives instead of positives. I always looked at myself as a good person. I helped people out when I could, I always wanted to brighten people days, give them something to smile about and just be that shoulder to lean on.

Then at 16yrs old I accidentally shot and killed my best friend Gianni. I heard of people playing around with guns and accidentally shooting each other but I would have never thought that this would have happened to me in a million yrs. When this happened, it changed me. They locked me up, charging me with 2nd degree murder. How could this be? It was an accident; we were just playing. I cried for what seemed like a hundred nights, replaying the incident in my head; waking up in cold sweats with blood on my hands. I had his family asking me “Why?”, my family asking “Why?”, but I didn’t have an answer other then I didn’t mean to do it, it was an accident, we were playing. I went through a depression. I didn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t talk, I didn’t want to play basketball, I didn’t smile or laugh. I became antisocial. I wished I was dead and that he was here instead of me. On visits my mother seen it too. I could see her hurting because I was hurting. She saw that I wasn’t the same smiling, loving, talkative, humorous kid I once was. I was broken and traumatized. I blamed myself every day. I hated myself for being so stupid and reckless. Over the years I learned to cope with my pain and started writing poems, reading my bible, getting closer to God and slowly but surely, I started coming back into myself. I learned that I got to live for Gianni. not with him. I’m still sort of stand offish. sometimes i get in the mode where I want to just be alone with my thoughts, but I’m back to laughing, joking and playing around, making other people’s day.

I have a different outlook on life now. I realized that I can’t become who I’m supposed to be until I eliminate the person, I thought I was. I want to help instead of hurt. I don’t want my legacy to be that I was a thug, savage or hoodlum. I want people to remember me as the good hearted, ambitious, humorous, loving, helpful, respectful, family oriented and sincere guy that I am. who made mistakes but didn’t let his past define him. I don’t want to be a statistic and die in prison or make it out and come back. I’m more understanding of life now. I like to see the glass from both aspects: half full and half empty. Prison helped me to learn about myself; I know my buttons. I’m also a chess player. I think before I react or speak. I observe before I make a move, and more importantly I think for others. I’ve successfully received my G.E.D while incarcerated. I look forward to enrolling in college to obtain a degree in business/entrepreneurship; to one day own a construction business. I’ve recently just started my own T-Shirt line with a friend. I’m going to help the youth out by being a mentor and telling my story, so they won’t make the same mistakes I did. Thank you all for taking the time to learn a little bit about me.