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These are letters we received about stories in the March-
April issue of L.A. Youth.

Letter from Juvenile Hall

I am a juvenile fighting an adult case. I used to be a juvenile; now they refer to me as an unfit minor. I’m facing two life sentences. I am not scared of imprisonment. I am scared of losing my life to the system. I have faith in God that he will spare my life and one day I will be released to live my life.

I realize that I might not ever get out of jail, but I wrote this to reach somebody in jail or on probation. I also wrote this to reach somebody leading a safe life who could end up in juvenile hall, prison or CYA (California Youth Authority, youth prison). 

Think before you make decisions that will lead you to negative aspirations. It’s not worth facing two life sentences. Remember, life is a struggle because if you don’t change the negative things they will take you down. If you get through them, you will be a better person inside and out.

I wish I could go back in time. Your life is not a video where you can rewind and fast forward to the parts you like and change them. This is real life with real people and real struggles. This is chicken soup for the imprisoned soul.
Author’s name withheld

Would my dad love me?

When I read “Would he love me?” I related to how Martha felt about her father. I always wondered if my dad cared about me, or if he even loved me. I used to think about him all the time, especially on Father’s Day. All the kids would be with their dads and they would ask me where my dad was, so I would tell them that he was out of town. That was all that I could really say because I didn’t know. For all you kids who have a dad, tell him how much you love him, because there are plenty of kids who would love to have a dad.
Kasey Kaczmarek, Hutchinson MS (La Mirada)

This article describes everything about me and my life. When I was about 3 years old my mother and father had a big argument and got divorced. Now I’m 13 years old and I haven’t seen my father in 10 years. Just like Martha, I don’t know what he looks like now, whether or not he’s gotten married to a different woman, or if he has children. No matter what, I will always love my father, Albert Abidian.
Armen Abidian, Wilson MS (Glendale)

After I read “Would he love me?” I felt terrible. I never thought about how life would be without my dad. When Martha talked about how “most girls have dads who take them to their practices, buy them things and play with them,” I thought, I am one of those girls. I never stopped to think about how there are girls like Martha who have always dreamed of having those things but don’t have a father. After what Martha wrote I told myself I would always appreciate the time I spend with my dad because I am very lucky to have a dad who does so much for me.
Emma Ramirez, Hutchinson MS

This story reminds me of myself. When I was 3 years old, my parents got divorced and I don’t remember anything about my father. I kept asking my family what he was like, but no one gave me the answers I wanted to hear. They always told me that I didn’t need to know or I shouldn’t worry about it. But one day, I got sick and tired of hearing that, so I went through all the photo albums, and I got to take a closer look of what he was like. I remember there was a picture of him holding me, right when I was born. I started to cry because I actually felt good. At least I knew that my father knew that I am his real daughter. I think and pray about finally meeting and seeing what my father is like.
Briana Collura, Wilson MS

This article reminded me of how much I missed my dad when I was younger. I really relate to this article because I used to always wonder about my dad, but not anymore. It has made me more independent and responsible, or at least that is what my mother says. By reading this article I remember all of this and I was able to understand what the writer was talking about.
Stephanie Felix, Nimitz MS (Huntington Park)

Medications didn’t help her sadness

I read this article because I know people who are depressed and think nobody loves them. Not long ago, I found out that two of my friends were cutting themselves. It really made me sad to see the cut marks on their wrists and blood-covered Kleenexes in their backpack pockets. I’m not sure why they would do such a horrible thing. “Prescription for depression,” allowed me to better understand my friends. Although they’re not foster kids and don’t move from home to home, they have questions of their own they want answers to. I wish my friends would open up more to me so I could be there to listen and talk whenever. Starting now, I’m going to make sure that’s going to happen.
Chan Bee Seo, Hutchinson MS

I feel that it is important for people to know what depression medicines can do to people. I think it’s important because if people are dealing with depression and their psychiatrist is giving them the choice of taking anti-depressants, then they should know what it could do to someone.
Julio Jorez, Nimitz MS

This article was an inspiration me and for other kids so we could start believing in ourselves. I learned that depression medication can sometimes cause more depression than before to those who are taking the medicine. This can lead to serious problems. I also learned that sometimes talking to other people and letting out everything you have to say makes you feel better. This article has also taught me that suicide or dying is not the only escape from all your problems. Sometimes you need to face your problems instead of escaping them.
Kimberly Soto, Nimitz MS

The war in Iraq

I strongly think the government should send more soldiers to Iraq. If we send more soldiers we can take out the ones who have already served their country. I also think we should try to finish what we started, and we need to finish it quickly before too many on both sides die.
Jeremiah Jimenez, Hutchinson MS

I think the U.S. government has handled the war horribly. In the beginning I thought it was OK that we were fighting this war. Now I believe differently because the insurgents are kicking our butts over there. It seems like this war is never going to end.
Sebastian Gomez, Hutchinson MS

I disagree with the war in Iraq. I think it’s wrong that we are in someone’s country trying to take their gas. That’s what I think this whole war is about. It’s not because they hit us. The people who hit us were from Afghanistan. I think it’s wrong and I think that we are in the wrong country at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Our troops have to get out of there and come home. I also believe that the troops don’t even want to be there but they are there because they have to be and because George Bush is making them. I mean how would we feel if they did that to us? The president might have a problem but he’s not solving it right.
Bledar Xhuti, Hutchinson MS

Personally, I think the government was only thinking that they were doing what was best for the country to protect us from an attack at the time. Now we are maybe doing too much. I mean, they need to stand up on their own two feet. However, seeing as the many people we have lost does not even equal the amount we lost in the first hour of D-day. I think we have made far more progress than we could have hoped. Therefore, I fully support the assistance in ridding their country of insurgents and trying to help them stabilize. I think that the U.S. has had a completely honorable purpose throughout this whole event.
Deanne Elliot, Wilson MS

A marine explains why he enlisted

After reading “Call to duty,” I changed my opinion about President Bush increasing troop levels. Marine Tim Taylor has a point. We should give it all we got so that 10 years from now there will be no war. If we leave now, the terrorists will build back up. For example, he says that we don’t want terrorism to be there when our kids are alive. I don’t want my kids to be alive when there is still a war going on.
Maritea Hernandez, Nimitz MS

Reading the story “Call to duty” about Marine Tim Taylor reminded me of a citizen’s duty during a time of war. He sees the option to serve as an honor, whereas most dread it. Tim was brave enough to join the Walking Dead unit. It’s nice to see that American pride hasn’t died out.
Timothy Kariger, Hutchinson MS

I really enjoyed reading this article. It showed that people make mistakes and mess up but if they work hard enough they can get back on track and make their lives good. This article proved that people can achieve most anything if they put their minds to it and persevere through all obstacles. This also showed me the dangers of Iraq and that it is a very unhappy place. I thought it was weird when the Marine was not scared to get sent to Iraq; I would be. The Marine took it as an honor to represent his country. This article had a big impact on me and this will help me to try my best in everything I do, just like the Marine.
Cameron Stanley, Hutchinson MS

When I read this article all I could think about is, Why does the country not support the Army? They are fighting so we can argue about whether it is just. In the article the Marine said, “I felt it was a very just cause.” If he believes it so much that he is willing to die for it, I believe that we can believe in it, too.
Name withheld, Hutchinson MS

The Top 8 shuffle

I really liked the article “The Top 8 shuffle” because I can relate to that dilemma. Although sometimes the problem is not a lack of self-confidence, in many cases it can be. We care about what people think of us in a variety of ways. Despite the fact that some people aren’t even our friends, we put them on our Tops because they are the popular kids. As a matter of fact, we leave our real friends in the last places. I despise it very much when my friends get mad at me, and as a result this causes our little fights. That’s the reason why on my MySpace I hid my top friends, because that way I’m the only one who knows who is and who isn’t on my Top.
Andrea Gomez, Wilson MS

I believe Top 8s can be a benefit to you and your friends’ relationships by reducing your chance of having a huge fight because fights usually start with little things building up. I believe Top 8 can help you realize when your friends are mad at you because they’ll move you a spot lower. Then instead of reacting negatively you can respond to the change positively. You can talk to your friends about why you’re a spot lower. That way you get a chance to talk to your friends before grudges build up. I think Top 8 can encourage people to talk more and become closer.
Sophia Han, Wilson MS

The article “The Top 8 shuffle” really got me thinking. It is true that our generation is obsessed with MySpace and who is on our Top 8. It is also true that we have lost the ability to communicate verbally rather than through the Web. Sometimes when we get too into MySpace we can get a little crazy into who is on our Top 8 and who is on our friends’ Top 8s, but sometimes people cannot help it. Once in a while we think to ourselves what we have done to be in that spot on their Top 8 or why they moved back. It is kind of like teens’ sense of confidence that their friends still love them. Sometimes MySpace can bring unnecessary drama into their lives and it is a pain to deal with because later they realize that they were fighting over no reason.

When someone moves me up or down on their Top 8 I don’t really pay attention to it because I know that at school I still hang out with them and we still say a simple “hi” or “bye.” Nowadays, I don’t even have a Top 8 or 24 because I decided that sometimes my friends can be offended by where their spot is on my list. Once in a while, I cannot even decide who is first or last because I love my friends all the same. Sure, I have those friends that I hang out with the most, but all of my friends know that I will always be there for them if they need me. They are still my friends and they always will be no matter where I am on their top list.
Gina Lee, Wilson MS

What do you think of the N-word?

This article gave me a different perspective of the n-word. I admit I have said the word a couple times but that is because I grew accustomed to it. I am going to try and reduce my use of the word, if not get rid of it completely. In my opinion I think it is wrong to say the n-word, even for a black person. I learned not to say this word anymore because it is disrespectful to black culture. This has truly changed the way I think. Thank you.
Jonathan Platero, Nimitz MS

The n-word does not need to be put aside or forgotten. My grandchildren need to grow up knowing that word and forming their own opinions. I’m not saying it can’t be used by white people or that other races have to fear saying it. What needs to be put aside is the blatant hate behind it. The word should not be boycotted or put aside. It simply needs to be understood.
Sabriyya Ghanizada, Wilson MS

This was a really good article. I am not African American, but I think it’s disrespectful to call someone the n-word. Just as it’s disrespectful to call another race a name. It may sound funny to us, but it’s offensive to them. All races have to work hard to get where they are now. African Americans aren’t the n-word.
Yvonne Garcia-Solano, Wilson MS

African Americans are usually called “blacks.” However, some “blacks” or “whites” called them a different word, the n-word. I believe it isn’t appropriate to call someone the n-word, especially African Americans. I think that it’s okay for African Americans to say it to each other, but if “whites” say it to the “blacks,” some “blacks” may take it as an offensive statement. This reason may not be enough to some people, but it is the reason why I have never even thought of saying it.
Eunbee Seo, Hutchinson Middle School

Many people in this world say the n-word to each other not knowing what a simple word can do. Saying the n-word might sound cool when you say it, but when you say it the wrong way and to the wrong person, that person can get hurt. I’ve seen many people called the n-word who are really different skin colors. And when they turn around, they have a different look in their face, as if they got hurt when they were told the n-word. I know how many of you feel because being a Mexican is also hard. I go into a liquor store and the cashier would always have his eye on me as if I were to steal something. Even when there are more people in the store they still have their eye on me. Like in the article says, “People look at you and assume you’re a gang banger or a stealer.” I also get put down when another person calls me a b***er. It can be difficult living in a world where you get discriminated against just because of your skin color because of your race. It’s not easy but just ignore those negatives out their and be proud for who you are. If I had one wish, it would be for everyone to be called by their name, not by their skin color.
Luis Avost, Hutchinson Middle School

I agree with this article completely. There is no way that we can stop people from using the n-word all together. However if by nothing else, we can get people to use it less by example. Sometimes I hear people us it in hello or as a joke. I have heard people use it as an insult. People call any race the n-word. White people get insulted by it because it means they are being called black. Black people get insulted because they are being called less than a human. It would be great for everyone to stop using it and never use it again, but I don’t think that is going to happen in the near future. It is something that might be forgotten as a word, but the meaning behind it will always be here.
Vince Newberry, Wilson Middle School

The article “Confronting the N-word” caught my eye because I hear it being used a lot. When I go to public places like the mall or krump sessions, almost everyone uses the n-word. Even if the aren’t black. I myself am 75 percent Filipina and 25 percent black. When my friends say “What’s up my n-word,” to me I don’t usually get offended because I know they don’t mean it in negative way. Most people at my school don’t even know that I’m a quarter black, so when I hear someone say the n-word I don’t even bother to tell them not to say it, even if it does annoy me sometimes. I really don’t understand why non-blacks say it though. Do they think it’s funny or cool? There’s no reason to say it, that’s why we have names.
Anica-Janine Bugay, Wilson Middle School

The article that caught my attention was titled, “Confronting the N-word.” This article showed me that changing your lifestyle just to fit in is a really bad idea. If you have to change the way you look, talk, act or dress just to fit in, in a certain group they’re really not your friends. At the school I attend all you hear are derogatory name callings such as, “What’s up n-ga?”  or “What’s up fob?” (F.O.B.= fresh off the boat). In the sixth grade I had an African American friend who would have to deal with what Trayvione had to deal with. Everyday she would go to school and every time we would hangout or pass the non African Americans they would be like, “Hey what’s up n-ga?” I felt really bad for her. Every time they would say that when would be fine until they left. When I looked into her eyes I saw the pain she had to go through everyday. In the middle of the sixth grade she moved out of state and that was the last of her. I never really found out why she had moved but the week before she had moved she had told me that her parents found out how the student at school treated her. She told me that her parents were furious at what the children at school would do to her. After that she didn’t say anything about her parents again. What Trayvione and other African Americans have to go through every day is very difficult. Clearly this article alone shows all the readers how racism can affect a person’s life.
Ashley Rivera, Wilson Middle School

Music lovers unite

I’m writing because I was really interested in the article, “My tunes.” I think I’m a music geek, too. I listen to music 24/7. I could never live without music. Everywhere I go I’m always carrying my iPod. I love music and I’m thinking of one day making my own mix tapes. Just like the writer, I love the Beatles. They just rock! My favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Vivian Landeros, Nimitz MS

Essay: My father’s death still hurts

Reading one of the essay contest winners, “My father’s death still hurts,” I realized how grateful I should be to have a dad. Even though I act cold toward my dad, I still love him from the bottom of my heart. No one really knows when a person may die. I should think twice about how I act to my dad, and try to change it into a better way. My dad means a lot to me, and not having him in my life would be just like missing a huge part of a picture. I don’t know how it is to not have a dad, but I know that I should be thankful every moment that I have a dad in my life.
Sarah Gu, Wilson MS