If you were born in the 90’s, Black, and lived in the hood (urban area) you know EXACTLY what D.A.R.E. is. You remember how fun it was, how much you liked singing the songs, how you couldn’t wait to for the Police Officer to come to your class every other week and hang with you. How you used to…wait…hold up…
Black kids…in the hood…hanging with…White Police Officers…on a consistent basis? Is that even possible?
Yup, it is. Or shall I say was. That was called D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Police Officers were actually inside of the schools talking about drug prevention with the kids. The conversation eventually would lead to songs we all would sing together. Songs as of today…if you drive past anyone in the hood between the ages 25-30 while playing the music, they’ll probably start singing.
The program was ended because of continuous budget cuts, as well lack of stats being produced…but the interesting thing is DARE’s intended purpose was to stop drugs, but I got something else instead…a White man.
I never had an interaction with a White man until I was 10 years old. I saw them on TV all the time or would just so happen to be in the room with them somewhere. I’d see them at businesses such as the doctor or dentist office, but I never had a chance to actually interact. In 5th grade I met three White men. The first one was my primary teacher and the other was my Science teacher. I had interactions with them, but they were very limited.
The third white man was Officer Stonerock. He was the police officer that would come to our class for the D.A.R.E. program.
I remember the very first day Officer Stonerock came to class. It was like watching a imaginary person come to life, right in fron of us. I stayed in the corner by myself while all the other kids pulled their chairs close to him. Fifth Grade was the most uncomfortable year in elementary and also was my first year in the “quiet kid” stage. I was already in shock another White man was in the building and on top of that, he was a Police Officer. So I wasnt going anywhere near him. He was kind of tall and lean, with a cool demeanor but looked like he meant business. All I could think about the whole time was Andy Griffith because he was the only Cop I ever seen up close. As much as I liked Andy Griffith, I know he didn’t have any Black kids around. So I looked at him like this when he walked in.
I continued to stare at him thinking to myself “What is he going to say?” Then, I went back to trying to be invisible. Sitting next to the teacher while he was grading papers.
Officer Stonerock said something that caused the kids to make some noise. I looked over to the crowd and saw that the kids were actually laughing. He really made them laugh. I began listening to him talk. He was talking about what to do if a stranger approached us. He said If a grown man said he was going to mess you up, it would be scary. Then he said If a kindergartener approached you and said (in his kid voice) “Hey, I’m gonna mess you up man.”
…I laughed louder than every kid in the room all before he could even finish what he was saying.
After talking to us he passed out some papers with song lyrics on them. We were about to sing the D.A.R.E. songs. We were already familiar with the songs because when we were younger the older kids would always perform the songs for us. So all the songs sounded familiar, but this time we actually got to sing them. All of the sings were pretty cool. I didn’t sing any of them…out loud that is. At the time I was heavy into Disney channel, which was my gateway to what white life was like. Disney channel was playing music during commercials. I remember at the time the movie Zenon just came out. The song at the end was like…
“Zoom zoom zoooom, make my heart go boom boom, my supernova guuuuuuuurl.”
That song reminded me of the music they were playing for some reason. So the music selection D.A.R.E used was perfect because I was used to the alternative rock sound that they were using. So…the next song comes on and the beat was pretty nice. The guy began singing and I thought to myself “Hmmm, this is a pretty cool song.” Then the hook came in…
“Dare, to keep a kid off drugs…Dare, to keep a kid off dope…Dare, to give a kid some help…Dare, to give a kid some hope”
I started to think “Wow, he got a Black Church choir to sing with him?”
But…that’s not what got me. I was NOT prepared for the voice that was about to change my life forever. The hook was repeated, but this time the guy started to ad-lib over the Black Church Choir. It was like…
“Dare, to keep a kid off drugs…KIIIIIID OOOFFFF DRUUUU-YHUUUUUUUUGS”
…I thought “Woah…That white man cares about us Black kids.” Then he did it again.
“Dare, to keep a kid of dope…KIIIIID OOOFFFF DOUGH-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPE”
At that moment…I knew he was talking to me. He didn’t want me on dope. Then after that, he really lost it.
“HEEEEEELLLLLPPPP UUUUUUSSSS NAAAAAAAAHHWWWWWWW…WE REALLY NEED YOOOUUURR HEEEEEEEELLLLLLP…NEEEED YOOOOUURRR HEEEEEEEELLLLP…HEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLP UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSS”
If you think I’m joking…listen to this song and try not to get inspired. This song is Eye of The Tiger for kids.
At this point I was completely sold. I began thinking “This poor white man is hurting so bad, he just wants to help us. How can I help him?” THEN…the end was where I KNEW I had to do something.
The Man singing said “WHY WONT YOU HELP US!?!?” The music just stopped and it went silent.
That moment, I made a life decision. I felt like I was just recruited by the Army. Who ever that man was wanted to save our lives and keep us off drugs. I was NOT going to let him fight against drugs by his self. I was going to sing that song with all my heart to help him. I got out of my seat ready to sing like I was the main act of an opera musical.As soon as I was ready to sing, Stonerock started packing up to leave. I was pissed off. I was ready to save the world with my voice.
When he walked out the classroom, something happened. Kids were getting upset that he was leaving. The scary part about it, was the fact that he had EVERY kid wanting him to stay. The bad kid, the loud kid, the crybaby kid, the bully kid, the sleepy kid, the kid that ALWAYS got suspended, the nerd kid, and even me, the isolated quiet kid…we all wanted this him to stay. I thought this White man amazing. After he was gone all the kids talked about how they wanted to be Cops…but not me. I was on a mission. I really liked Stonerock, but I wanted to sing with the man who sang his heart out. His voice spoke to my 10 year old soul.
First thing first, out of respect for the White man and the Black Church I had work to do when I got home. My dad smoked cigarettes…so I had to save his life. When he wasn’t looking I took his pack of cigarettes and I threw them in the trash can. Not much longer afterwards, he was looking in his coat pockets, pants pockets, and any pocket he had. He had no idea I did it, but it was for his own good. If he heard that White man sing that song he would know why I was doing this. I had to help him rid the world of kids getting on drugs.
So as the next week comes, I cant think of anything but Stonerock and D.A.R.E. I was thinking of what I could do to prepare for the next D.A.R.E. session. So…I wrote a rap. That was my way of helping the singing White man. I figured, I would write the rap, and when Stonerock saw it he was going to share it with the man, which would give me a chance to perform on stage with him…just like something on the Disney channel.
The day comes when Stonerock was coming back. I was just as excited as all the other kids were, but I still couldn’t find myself gathering around him like everyone else. I stayed next to my teacher’s desk. Stonerock did his usual trademark work. He talked to us, made us laugh, and gave us a worksheet. This time I was wanted to participate eveything. I did participate, but it was all from a distance. So the moment that I was waiting for came, Stonerock brought the music out. I stood up with everyone else and I sung the first song.
“Go Dare, Go Dare, Go Dare, Go Dare…D A R E meeeeans stay drug free. D A R E meeeeans stay drug free. Cmon Cmon Cmon yaaaawwwwwwwwl. Cmon Cmon Cmon yaaaaaawwwwwwl. I want tooooo grow up strooooong, know whats right, know whats wrooooooong.”
I didn’t know the rest of the song…and I didn’t care either. I wrote a rap and I only cared about the last song. Everything else was worthless.
So the last song is coming up. I was ready to be reuinited with the golden voice of the century. I stood up and waited for the song to start, and then the beat dropped. I start bending my knees bouncing up and down. I did not care about the beginning of the song I just wanted to get to the part where he began to adlib. The part comes up and I’m thinking to myself “Well since I’m an music artist, I need to come up with my own stuff. I cant just sing his part.” So I sung my own lyrics in place of his. As the part was coming up I was so ready, and it finally came. The Black Church started singing their part. This was it.
“Dare, to keep a kid off drugs.” I said “I DONT WANT TO DIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEE”
“Dare, to keep a kid off dope.” I said “NO, I DONT WANT TO DIIIIIIIIIIIIEEE.”
“Dare, to give a kid a some help” “PLEASE DONT…LET ME DIIIIIIIIIIE”
The song came to and end and the White man said “WHY WON’T YOU HELP US!?!?” I said it right on time, in sync with him.I just KNEW my singing had changed some kids life somewhere. Me and him just saved every Black and White kid in the world.
My teacher was the only person that could actually hear me. He just looked at me while I was singing. In my head I’m thinking he’s giving me the look of “Wow, Donte is such an amazing kid and I’m so proud of him.” Now that I look back and think about it his face probably meant “Wow, Donte is f**ked up beyond repair. The only time he talks, is to sing about dying. Poor kid”
So after singing about how I didn’t want to die, I figured I helped the man save the kids all over the world from getting on drugs. The last thing to do was show Stonerock my rap, so he could get me in the studio with the White man. As he was preparing to leave I hand him this. (Clearer lyrics in caption)
He reads it and he was like “O man! Great job!” Then he handed me the paper back and said he’ll see me next week. I knew he was about to tell that other white man that I wrote that rap and he needed me to perform it with him so we could save the world. I just knew my Disney channel fantasy was going to come to life sooner or later.
P.S. For anyone who is reading this, I went to Hamilton Alternative Elementary in Columbus Ohio. Officer Stonerock was my D.A.R.E. teacher In 1999-2000. I do not remember his first name but I don’t know anyone else with the last name Stonerock. If by chance anyone can lead me to him, please do. Id like to reconnect with him.
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