I became a victim of Gang Violence
I SPEAK LIFE BECAUSE IT HAS TAUGHT ME MANY WORDS
Listen to 24 year old Anthony 'Vokal' Richards
Who am I? Countless times I would be found staring into the mirror asking my reflection, just who are you? then finally after years of silence I became a voice, I became Anthony Vokal Richards. I am an ambitious, generous and passionate individual. I believe in its entirety that God should be at the forefront of my thoughts, plan and actions.
I am a dub poet, chef, song writer /singer motivated by my love for capturing life in the essence of words and music. This is because as a child poetry and music were my only sources of comfort when my closest companions were loneliness and poverty. I was forced to adapt to my conditions by making my past someone's hope!. To reassure persons that I have made it despite not having a dad who cared , with a mom who worked tirelessly so I could survive. Despite my struggles I did not resort to violence even when I was caught in the middle of a cross fire. I became a victim of gang violence when I was shot in my community at age twenty one (21), having a bullet lodged inside of me for six months. Having to watch all that I invested in pass me by because I was hospitalized. I then became a beacon for my community to stop violence and promote peace as I could have been but a memory rather than leaving a legacy.
Talk up yout gave me a platform to stand, to echo my voice with my talent, to be bold and speak life, the lessons and defeats it has taught me. Even though I was born in a life where education was my only way out and even after achieving the education needed to function, Talk Up Yout allowed me to market myself in a environment where finding space was a challenge for established individuals yet alone a new comer. It gave me a new found confidence and opportunity to bring added purpose to my life.
I have a vision for Jamaica! Where a child does not have to wonder if he/ she has to sit down years before finding a job when they are qualified. A Jamaica where children who can't find or have lost their biological parents will know and feel the warmth of a country who cares for them. A country where a man will be a man and stand by his call of duty, his responsibilities as a father and his calling as a human being. A Jamaica where we cherish our past while pushing for the future. A country where address does not define you or determine what job is available to you or the tone or your skin. A country where violence will no longer make monsters of our youths, a place where we remember we all may look different but are one. We are Jamaicans first and all else come after.
Youth, ages 14 - 26, from all over the world, talking up. #TalkUpYout