Conjure the image of generation after generation of kids hustling in the streets, and ultimately having their names inscribed on a memorial of all those who were lost to senseless violence. Enter the ‘hood and the scene won’t be any different: drug deals in broad daylight, casual drinking in the playgrounds, and young lives that are likely to end before reaching the age of 20, or lengthy prison sentences for many. The outcome for friends and family is nothing more than heartache with each passing moment.
Rising from depths of this kind of chaos, Harold “Noonie G” Ward, an entrepreneur and activist-and a former member of the Gangster Disciples-vehemently implores parents, guardians, and all authority figures to end this cycle of senseless living and begin immediately to take an active role in guiding and looking out for our kids. Noonie G states explicitly, “You are either going to raise them with love or with hate. Just know that with hate, you are raising a monster from the pits of hell.”
Today, kids can’t go to school without parents’ worrying if they’ll be safe or not. Random attacks are becoming the crimes of choice in schools, as is pulling the trigger for the slightest reason. Somehow for some, this type of aggression is appealing, with many feeling more assertive and in charge of their lives-which is as far from the truth as possible. Our children need to be shown a better way, a higher way.
Moreover, Noonie G also has a few choice words for the women of the ‘hood: “Our young women think because they are thick or got nice body and a nice face that that is all you need, NOT. You have to have the brains to go with the body.” Instead of boys (and girls) entering a life of crime and seeing no way out, it’s time to set an example for them and to guide them to becoming model citizens.
Harold “Noonie G” Ward’s Gangster with a Heart of Gold not only chronicles his life on the edge and subsequent transformation, but also offers hope to young people and their parents-hope that is real and attainable. The message is that it’s not too late to begin making choices for the good, and that lives can, indeed, be turned around. Ward’s life is a living testimony to the fact that, despite a shameful history, success through hard work and a focus on the things in life that truly matter can make a difference in the world-one life at a time.
In the end, the mentoring, love, and attention that youth get will determine whether the blood-stained history of the ‘hood repeats itself-or a new chapter is born.
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