WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Youth Voices: Raven Reese

Play associated audio

Sooner or later, every child must realize that the world is more than just a playground, and that being a parent involves more than just saying 'Yes, you may.' For commentator Raven Reese, those lessons were particularly difficult ones.

My dad is funny. He's the funniest person I know. He's supportive and caring and soft-spoken. My dad doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs, or curse.

But he's also a convicted drug dealer, locked up behind bars in North Carolina. Jailed 18 months ago, he's not due for release until 2017.

I think of him every day. We're very close, even though he hasn't been there at times when I needed him. He didn't see me go to my senior prom or graduate from high school. He won't be here when I turn 21, when I finish college, or begin my first real job.

My sister now has a baby boy, but my father has never seen his grandson.

Through the prison glass that separates us, my dad has told me he's sorry. I think he's genuinely troubled by it all. Handcuffed and speaking on a prison phone, he tells me he takes responsibility for his actions and reminds me to do the same. Seeing my dad like this makes me cry every time.

It wasn't until the sixth grade that I figured out what my dad did as a profession. He always had plenty of money, but I never saw him go to work.

The way he interacted with the people he called 'friends' reminded me of drug dealing scenes from movies such as Paid in Full. Once, when I opened the glove compartment of his car, it was packed with thick wads of cash.

My older sister confirmed our suspicions later, but at the time, neither of us asked him outright. We didn't think it was a topic open for discussion.

Since then, he's told me that he started selling drugs when he was seventeen, after his mother died. He was the oldest of five kids, and I guess that's how he provided for the family.

I'm sure my Dad is proud that my siblings and I are all doing well. He wants us to take a different path. But we also need him to take a different path.

I tell him, 'If you don't want to go back to jail, you have to do something different when you get out.' But I don't know what else he'll do.

He'll be 45, and I can't picture him starting over in an office. Dealing drugs is what he's done since he was a teenager.

If he has any shot at changing, we all know he'll need us, his family, to be his support system, to be there for him whenever he needs us. We're ready.

But he must also be ready to accept that he can't change the past, that starting over won't be easy, and that there is a future for him that's worth building.

Raven participates in WAMU's summer Youth Voices program in partnership with Youth Radio and D.C.'s Latin American Youth Center. She's a recent graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

NPR

Military Veterans Take On Zombies In 'Range 15'

Range 15 is a new zombie movie made by war veterans for veterans. It's a dark comedy with a cast that includes Medal of Honor recipients, amputees and William Shatner.
NPR

Chef Eddie Huang On Cultural Identity And 'Intestine Sticky Rice Hot Dog'

Huang and his brothers, Evan and Emery, headed to China to reconnect with their culture, to eat lots and lots of food — and to cook. He's documented his travels in his new book, Double Cup Love.
NPR

No Sanders Vs. Trump Debate? Sad!

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee now says he won't debate the Democratic White House candidate — something Trump had initially seemed open to on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this week.
NPR

North Korea Linked To $81 Million Bangladesh Bank Heist

Experts say code used by hackers in recent attacks on banks appears to be the same as code used in an attack on Sony Pictures which the FBI says was carried out by North Korea.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.