Carlisle High School, Carlisle
Dear Dr. Ben Carson,
Of the 16 years, 11 months, 9 days, 16 hours, and 2,423 seconds of my existence, I've never been so bombarded with the repercussions of the past, events of the present, and fears of the future. This over-whelming feeling, felt as if I would soon spiral into relentless frustration and depression, filling me with anxiety. This impotent emotion seemed to never subdue or fade away until I read your autobiography Gifted Hands. Over the brief span of my adolescent life, I felt as if the walls of the world were slowly caving in on me. These walls left me helpless and drained every ounce of hope I tried so desperately to cling on to. This was my life, until one, strong man showed me the way.
In your book, there was no hope or aspirations for young, black males. There was no one to help guide them or even illustrate the pathways to a Successful life. This trend of black males becoming nothing more than space holders for local prison cells increased exponentially. Even until it seemed as if black men and prison cells were inevitable. This setting mirrored my life so much so, that I often wondered if the autobiography was over my life and not yours. I am a scrawny, black teenager from South Carolina. In the town I grew up in, there was no hope for me, let alone enough strength and wisdom to battle the stereotypes and statistics of my race. I was smart, but I was held back by my situation and living circumstances. With a father who was absent, a single mother with 2 jobs, who soon turned to drugs, and an older sister who was oblivious to what was happening in my life; many would say I had the odds stacked against me. I had no role model or male figure to show me the way. It seemed as if my life was over before it really got its start.
As I continued reading your book, I felt as if you and I had simultaneously switched places and I was the kid in the book battling life with a losing streak. As you continued to fight for your way out by setting down your bad habits and picking up a book, I found myself subconsciously doing the same. As your future started to take a turn for the better with your increased obsession with academics, mine started with a telephone call to my grandparents in Iowa. I had made up in my mind that I would no longer be a victim to society's towering hold on my life. I explained to my grandparents my dreams and my burning passion to be better than my parents. I expressed my determination to leave behind a legacy of successful, black men not men conforming to the stereotypes of society. I advocated the importance to be in a better place, with better education, and far better living conditions. Hearing me and my cry for help, within a year's time I was brought to Des Moines, Iowa.
As the chapters started to come to an end, I realized we were at the same stages in our lives, but with different experiences. You were an accomplished Doctor, stuck in a job career that you loved, but with peers who didn't accept you. I on the other hand, am a 16 year old who is a very accomplished student, but is considered an outcast by my classmates because of the color of my skin. As I read more and more, our lives seem to merge and intertwine. I realized this phenomenon when I would find myself searching for the answers to my problems in your book, always asking "What would Doctor Carson do?"
As my eyes soon ran out of words to read on the pages of your autobiography, I found myself reflecting on what I had just experienced. The pure life altering occurrence of this book on my life is just astounding. When society seemed to slip through the cracks and tear me down, my first action was to pick up your book and find a lesson on the subject. From the first couple of chapters to the very last period a miraculous event occurred. Ben Carson and I had become family. When reading, my conscious mind faded from my present situation and engulfed itself in the reality of your autobiography.
During the length of the book, I felt as though I had someone to count on in my time of need. I felt I had someone who would always provide me with advice and perspective on the future. Ben Carson influenced me to chase after the dreams people told me I wouldn't accomplish. My situation by no means was positive, but through the teachings of Ben Carson, I learned to create the positive and ostracize the negative. Of the 16 years, 11 months, 9 days, 16 hours, and 2,423 seconds of my existence, I've finally realized “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in us."