Below is an excerpt from an essay written by Matthew Cruz who attended our workshop at Elmhurst College.* You can read his full essay and others we’ll be featuring at In Their Own Words: Ten Outstanding Student Essays.
While walking down a particular street I noticed a group of young Mexicans, who were in a gang and predisposed to getting into trouble. Rufus and I crossed the street to avoid them. We walked without talking as they drew closer but it made no difference. Looking in their direction I saw that they were crossing the street to confront us. When they reached us, they completely ignored me and decided Rufus would be their sole target. I had a strong feeling it was because he was black. They shouted racial slurs, insults, and I was beginning to get nervous. The peculiar thing was they where ignoring my presence. I knew I had no choice but to act…
We went home that day, Rufus and me, both with enormous black eyes and several other wounds … Even though I was sore, sleeping easy was not a problem. It would have been had I decided not to stand up for my values and beliefs that day. Upholding my values has to be my most important priority. Honor, respect, commitment, and determination, (all equally important) are the guidelines that I strive to live my life by. If I didn’t stand up for Rufus that day, then I couldn’t consider myself the person I am today. Even if I were to do one thing against my set of standards I would be completely disappointed in myself, and strive to change the behavior that caused me to fall. My father once said, “There’s God’s law and then there’s your values. As long as they coincide then you live by both.” I have been striving for quite some time to do just that.
* Read earlier student excerpts here and here.
–Guestblogger J.B. Schramm