BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — One might suggest that America has been in Rip Van Winkle mode for quite some time. The African-American community appears to have hit the snooze button a few times too many in the past decade.
However, there are some young people who are aware that being awake is a prerequisite to making forward progress and are willing to make their voice heard.
Can you hear me as I speak?
Do you feel that your flame has reached its peak?
Like an ember, just don’t forget to remember that you are a different person than you were in December.
That passage is from a poem Tyrone Moore wrote called “Are You Awake.” A 21-year-old visionary who expresses himself through writing, he is a poet who uses his prose to release inner feelings and frustrations brought on by a world that in his eyes is filled with apathy, hatred and neglect.
Moore grew up in Boonsboro, Md., a small town where the population was 3,336 in the 2010 census. Growing up, he experienced a lot of racism and ridicule. There were many times that he felt lonely and even backed in a corner.
“Here I am, this African-American kid with one younger brother at home, my dad is a pastor and we lived in this non-diverse, backwoods country place. I had both parents at home, but at times I felt depressed and unsure of myself.”
Moore’s isolation started in the second grade when he was hit by a car and severely injured. He stayed in the hospital for a year and a half with a broken femur and with traumatic brain injuries. He was labeled medically non-functional.
He began physical and psychological therapy and repeated his third-grade year. The result of his medical challenges made his years in school very difficult.
“I became depressed trying to come to terms with my plight and condition. I often found myself trying to figure out who I was,” said Moore. “At times I felt like my parents didn’t care and I was this disgusting person.”
Moore began writing to express his feelings and escape his reality. After writing in a journal during high school, he found a love for writing poetry. He describes an intimacy in poetry that gave him a feeling of escape and support.
He felt safe in the rhythm of his writings that he did not get from schoolwork. Writing gave Moore freedom and confidence.
When he completed high school, he still found himself at home feeling depressed with no aspirations. He knew that he needed to get away and experience life. Therefore, he left Maryland and came to Florida.
The plan was to move in with his sister here in St. Pete, but when that fell through, Moore registered at Pinellas County Job Corps.
Located at 500 22nd St. S, Job Corps is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 to 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training.
“I already had my high school diploma, but Job Corps helped me get a driver’s license,” said Moore, adding that he was able to become a certified medical assistant, receive his CPR and OSHA certifications.
Life is definitely progressing since enrolling at Job Corps, and Moore wants young people to wake up and not sleep on big opportunities. He is currently preparing to enroll at St. Petersburg College to become an art therapist.
Through the turbulence of his past, Moore has awakened to see himself as a little cub that has grown into a lion. Rather than letting the world affect him, he has positioned himself to influence the world.
To reach Dexter McCree, email firstname.lastname@example.org