Letter from Anthony Ross, Jr. September 2015
My name is Anthony Ross, Jr. I am 27 years of age. I am a San Francisco native raised in Bayview Hunter’s Point, an overwhelming part of the City. I was born to Anthony Ross, Sr and Carmen Ross. Both of my parents were considered major players of the fast life (better known as the underworld). I figure that they chose that career path because of their circumstances. They both grew up in single parent homes with multiple siblings. Growing up, both my parents were in and out of jail, with both being missing in action periodically. I was left in the care of my grandmother, left to keep up with my older brother and sister.
When you grow up in poverty, with one guardian, you learn to put things off. Purchases are put off for another dollar. Decisions are put off for a better day. Dreams are put off until they become fantasies. You slip into your own past, wear it on your back everyday, because there is nothing left to buy a new future.
My first experience with Kingian Nonviolence was at San Bruno jail. Before Kingian Nonviolence I was taught that violence is your ticket to freedom. The freedom to feel. The freedom to your beliefs and values. In my neighborhood the most violent people were glorified. Because of your conditions you’re raised to be cynical. I was intrigued by the Kingian Nonviolence workshop because their message was nonviolence in a violent arena. I also thought it might help me get through my stay in jail.
Over the years I’ve learned listening skills, values and warning signs of escalating conflict. I understand more about conflict so I can better respond to it. Kingian Nonviolence has conveyed Dr. King’s message and legacy to me. As a father I plan to bring what I’ve learned from Kingian Nonviolence back under my roof. The school system doesn’t have enough teachers, let alone after school programs. Without proper schooling or after school programming, where will children spend idle time that should be channeled into character building activities?
Kingian Nonviolence should be an option for at-risk youth. Kingian Nonviolence arouses the consciousness of the community around conflict. There are children in my community that are hungry for attention. Will those children be treated like debris? Put in solitary confinement? All because opportunity is next to none? The institution I reside in is run by “poverty pimps.” These youth will come of age looking for direction and jobs.
The reason I speak so strongly for these kids in my community is because they are me. If I had been introduced to Kingian Nonviolence early in life I know I would be an expert at responding to conflict. I would’ve excelled academically and spiritually. For me, Kingian Nonviolence is a booster. It’s that big brother that prepares you to walk across the street alone. It’s that coach through adversity, that gives you encouragement to believe in yourself. To me, East Point Peace Academy is more than a non-profit organization, it is the prophet!
All the material things I put in to create a glorified image won’t outlast the teachings of Kingian Nonviolence. Imagine you were stripped of your morals, values, principles, self-love, self-reliance, parents and schools you attended. How far do you think you would have made it in life? Growing up I thought I wasn’t good enough so I decorated my body with designer clothes to camouflage how I really felt. They say you become what you’re taught. If you visit my community, rarely will you see doctors, lawyers or tech CEOs. In closing, I hope what I have said touches your hearts and thank you for your time.