Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Freeway Ricky Ross Redemption

It is only when one accepts responsibility for his own actions that he can begin the long steadfast process of Redemption. Webster's dictionary defines redemption as "atonement for..." that is, each person must bear his or her own cross. One has to truly understand the scope of the destruction that he has caused in order to go about rebuilding that which was lost. There are many different stages to redemption and one is that it must come before an apology.

My heart is heavy and as I grow older, I see a much bigger picture than I saw over twenty years ago. When I first started my journey into a life of crime I was just looking to outrun the poverty that seemed to gain on me with every move I made. When you're young sometimes you can want something so badly that you'll do anything to get it. Sometimes you have to slow down, take a step back and look at the big picture.

So there I was in prison, still, quiet and in darkness. But as you know it's always darkest before the dawn. During 20 years of incarceration I decided to turn my cell into a dorm room. A cell can be a womb or a tomb. A womb in which to grow, transform and develop. Or a tomb to overdose on bitterness, despair and self-hate-and ultimately to die. I read over 300 books including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Black Enterprise. I read everything I could get my hands on. I awakened a self-discipline I had never seen the likes of and for the first time I was taking advantage of the system. I made time serve me and redirected my path by disturbing the universe around me thus transforming into a totally different person. In that dark, cold cell my light came on and shone as bright as the sun. Only when we transform can we step outside ourselves and look into our own eyes.

My vision became crystal clear. I had always felt that what people chose to do was their business. If I chose to deal drugs and you chose to use them then that's your fault. This rationalization got me where I was but looking from the outside at my old self I saw the domino affect. I saw the violence, the pain, the destruction, joblessness, drug addict epidemic, overflowing prison population, babies born with severe disabilities, overflowing foster care system due to absentee parents... It wasn't the drugs as much as it was the trail of death and destruction that followed.

My community wasn't prepared to handle the devastation that crack cocaine brought with it. To the mothers, fathers and families who have lost loved ones to the prisons, addiction or the graveyard; I say I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry for the part I played in our destruction. Often times we don't apologize because we think that our sin is irredeemable. But it's never too late to learn from our past mistakes and correct them in the present so we'll never see them again in our future.

 I've served 20 years in prison. My relationship with my mother and my children will always be affected by my past actions. The hurt and the pain I've caused just in my own family keeps me awake many nights. To my incarcerated brothers and sisters I tell you this: The darkest of night is just before the daylight. Once you go through the worst of the storm, in that instant it starts to get better. Too often we do bad things and expect good results to come from them. But life doesn't work that way.

A man is not measured by what he took from life but by what he gave. Through intervention and education our youth can't just be told to stop their destructive behavior without being given options and shown a better way. Since leaving prison I've visited many schools talking to the students, and actively involved in the community rallying support for various causes that will help to correct the damaging situations plaguing our community.

One of my ways of giving back to the community is the recent launch of my website: www.freewayenterprise.com, a social network that is free to join. It is a place where actors, models, singers and rappers looking for deals, writers and all members of our family can connect and unite. You can upload pictures, music, ideas and anything that connects us as a community. I feel it is my personal responsibility to encourage by example. Too often we as elder statesmen in the community don't reach back and give back. Too often we throw money at a problem and hope it finds it's own solution.

Giving back could be as simple as opening a door or window of opportunity. Now comes the part where we get out into the streets and save our children. Too many times outsiders and, in some cases, insiders too deplete our resources and give nothing back to our community. Our community deserves better than what it has received from us. But it's not too late. We can start our major transformation together.

On behalf of my past, who I am now, and who I am destined to become; I humbly come before my community on bended knees and ask for your forgiveness.

Sincerely,

Freeway Ricky Ross

Category: Op-Ed


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