Often when we talk of the future, we speak of a distant reality or a vision of something we would like to see manifest. I was fortunate to cross paths with a group of high school seniors, all residents of Inglewood, who were chosen to participate in a documentary I was asked to help produce. The title of the piece is, “Against All Odds.” This group of teenagers experienced tremendous hardships throughout their young lives, from the loss of loved ones, divorce of parents, and being victims of sexual and physical abuse. There was one teen who stood out to me, a bright, intriguing, and warm spirited young lady by the name of Shameka Williams. I wondered what the future had in store for her.
I reached out to the Morningside High School alumni and arranged a 9pm interview after she got settled from a long day of Sociology courses and meetings with members of the African Black Student Alliance where she acts as an Outreach Coordinator.
I sat down at my computer and, in overachiever fashion, she signed into the chat ten minutes before our scheduled time. Williams, now a senior and member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, one of the most recognized sororities in the country, who’s emphasis is on public services focusing in the African American community said, “After I did my research, I loved what it stood for.“
Her genuine compassion for her community, and strong affection for performing arts, charged her decision to major in the study of human society, its origins, and institutions, and minor in the latter.
“I want to develop a non-profit organization that provides clothes and school supplies to students, with free summer programs, and bridges the gap between middle school and college. It’s really important for me to give back to the generation behind me, because someone came back for me. I think the people of Inglewood have inspired me the most, I learned from both the good and the bad. I was wise enough to really analyze the older folks and learn from their mistakes. Then seeing all that my Aunt sacrificed for me, I had to challenge myself to make a good positive living for myself.” When asked how the city can improve she believes, “Inglewood can become a better city by bringing the arts back to the city. I really believe that the arts inspires the youth, gives them confidence, keeps them out of the streets, and keeps them goal oriented.
The interesting thing about the future is that it foreshadows the inevitable decline of influence and power, and can be an alarming reality when one’s motivation is driven by that same power and influence instead of the true well being of one’s community. Our youth crave, yet lack the adequate attention and support needed to shape them into the leaders of tomorrow. That’s a responsibility that shouldn’t have a political agenda as its grounds. However, the truth about the future is that it has the ability to be fashioned into a reality that can be prosperous for everyone, not just the ones with the most money, a particular ethnicity, religious belief, or political viewpoint. It demonstrates that, like Shameka Williams, we too can reinvent ourselves and become everything we desire to be despite a rough past.