Click here for part 1.
I’m waiting for Officer Stonerock to come back next week with the band so I could sing with them. As I’m waiting on him, I begin to remember how much school was a place I’d rather not be. I didn’t know what depression when I was younger, but now that I look back I realize my isolation and silence was owed to depression. I also had anxiety and panic attacks, but just like depression it was something I couldn’t put into words or describe, so I just lived with it.
The day Officer Stonerock came back, the funny thing is, I didn’t feel like I needed to be silent nor did I desire to isolate myself. I really wanted to be around him and all the other kids I disliked, which was about 95 percent of the class. He walks and does his usual thing. I’m happy to see him, but…there was no band. I’m expecting to see a White guy and Black Church choir behind him, but they weren’t there. Officer Stonerock tells us that the D.A.R.E. ceremony was coming up and we’ll be performing and receiving awards.
I thought”So THAT’S when ill get to perform my rap with the band. Ok” After that I just knew I had to practice on my voice. This time, I didn’t sit next to my teacher in the corner. I pulled my chair up to the rest of the group and we sang all of those songs together. I really wanted Officer Stonerock to see me singing so he could get a glimpse of what was to come when I performed at the D.A.R.E. ceremony. I already could see it. I visualized it happening just like the Michael Jackson video to Black or White. When the home alone kid did his rap after Micheal Jackson sung, yup, that was exactly how it was going to go. (skip to 4:34 to see my vision)
So…The day of the ceremony comes up. We line up and walk to the gym. I see all the younger kids and their teachers, whom we all were going to perform for. I’m excited and happy, but I was ready to finally meet the band so we can get this performance over with. Officer Stonerock begins talking on the microphone about the program and soon tells us to stand up so we can sing. We started singing the first song. After we finished I looked around and didn’t see the band. I really was under the assumption I was going to have the opportunity to at least meet them. At this point I pretty much let it go and knew I wasn’t going to see them as we began singing the next song.
After we finished, Officer Stonerock got back on the microphone and began to call names of people who write about what the D.A.R.E. program meant to them. I just sat there while he called the names of the kids. For a moment, I went back to being invisible like I always was…until Officer Stonerock said “Donte Woods!” I was thinking “…I don’t have my rap memorized all the way. I cant perform now.” I got up and walked up to the podium. Once I got myself out of fantasy land, I realized he was actually was calling me up to receive an award for writing the rap.
He shook my hand with the biggest smile on his face and handed me the paper with my name on it. I didn’t know what to do. I was never acknowledged for anything. I was so used to being ignored that it was uncomfortable to have somebody actually recognize me and give me something. I was happy…but I forget what it felt like to have somebody see you existed. I didn’t care about the White man or the Black Church anymore. I was just happy with the piece of paper Officer Stonerock gave me with my name on it. I felt like I was given a piece of hope back that I thought was long gone. That was the very first time in my whole life I was awarded for my own creativity, not for something I was told to do. I knew after that day I owed Officer Stonerock.
As of 2017, It’s been 17 years since I seen Officer Stonerock and I’ve been active a possible in the community and have been recognized for it in various ways. Recently I was included to the Columbus Division of Police website. (Center picture shaking hands with Officer Kalous)
The only person I could think about was Officer Stonerock. I’m far from done with my work and Community-Police relations are far from where I desire them to be, but Officer Stonerock restored my hope at the age 10, and he still is doing it this very day. Teaching me at a very young age, regardless of whats going on around you, and regardless of your reputation or how culturally different you may be…if you really care then you will stand up and do something. Nobody can stop you and you can do it all while being your authentic self. I only hope one day he gets the opportunity to see what he had a hand in creating.
Thanks Officer Stonerock.
Be sure to check out my Tedx Talk!