a picture of money
Kelsey Falquero

Before I came to Street Sense, I didn’t enjoy reading. I made attempts at reading books but never completed them. I believe the reason was I had no purpose. However, any skill can be improved through dedication and practice.

Although I wrote numerous articles, I didn’t like my work being edited. So with help from my editor
and writing classes, I worked to improve my writing; although my grammar is still suspect, it has improved.

Before I came to Street Sense, I was functionally illiterate, could barely read at a seventh grade
level and had a hard time focusing. I cringe at some of my earlier writings; they were more like
rants and weren’t based on evidence, just opinions. My earlier works were written under the
influence and incoherent. To make matters worse, I had poor study skills.

I took my last drink on Aug 3, 2009 and the first book I ever read completely was the big book of
Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve and Twelve.

I kept a journal and read the literature. Having someone guide me helped me develop my mind. My
writing improved. Every morning now I write for at least five minutes. I recommend this exercise
because it clears your thoughts. Although I like writing, I also like reading and research.

I wasn’t a born writer. I never wrote anything down and didn’t take things seriously. However,
writing has taught me that rewards in life come from doing things for yourself. I thank God for not
giving me a mindset of helplessness, but giving me a work ethic.

Learning to read gave me liberation. Before I spout off on any subject now, I read and study the
topic. I believe I do my best work when I get to the cause, then the conclusion. The world knows
why things are screwed up but few people have an answer to solve them. I used to be a political
writer, now I consider myself an independent writer.

As a former socialist and activist, I used to believe that problems were caused by the system. I
joined many homeless and civil rights marches, I also considered running for some public office as
an independent.

Because of my reading, however, my philosophy has changed. I gain strength from the Scriptures, I
read a verse from the Bible everyday. I believe reading about moral strength has helped me over-
come obstacles.

I read President Obama’s Dreams from My Father, and although I sometimes criticize him, I
believe his election made racism a thing of the past. Reading taught me when one is prepared and
knowledgeable, opportunities await you. Even a racist will pay top dollar for a learned man. The only thing people care about is winners and achievement. I don’t play the race card because I am confident in my God-given talent.

Whenever, I get bitter I read the story of Joseph. He was thrown into a well, but used misfortune
as an opportunity and became a king.

I no longer read books on black liberation, nationalism, or Marxism, which I believe create the seeds of victimization. If it isn’t uplifting, I refuse to read it. I read books I call profiles in personal responsibility. My favorite books are books of strong black men and women who resisted government assistance and looked to their God-given talents.

My favorite book is Malcolm X’s autobiography; however, I get inspiration from Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery and W.E.B. Dubious’ Roots from my Soul. Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands is another classic. He tells the story of being born to a single mother who refused welfare and went to work for rich people. She studied their ways and made her son read books and write reports on them. Because of his mother, Carson became one of the world’s top neurosurgeons.

Although I’m politically independent, I love reading black conservatives such as Thomas Sowell, Armstrong Williams and Shelby Steele. I also love reading about strong women such as Condoleezza Rice and Star Parker. I am currently reading books on economics and poverty. But my real love is black history and the  problems in the black community.

In the future, I hope to share what I
learned with my readers.