When I talk with my students, my number one plea to them is to find ways to travel. It is indeed a luxury, but it’s also necessity and life breath. Few of us can see our lives for what they are without space to step back and acquire context. Especially in the flats of Oakland, where death lingers like the smell of burnt plastic. Many Oakland teens struggle to envision life anywhere else, but there is beauty to be found the world over. Not to mention that we often don’t appreciate the best things about Oakland until we drink in the horizons of foreign lands.
For the youth out there who see themselves backed into a corner like DB does in this video, realize that getting away for a minute can be a better solution than shooting from the hip at every lurking shadow. Getting away is not running away, its realizing that your life is more important than a trifling situation. Getting away is an opportunity to grow, to see new things, to expand your comfort zone and to count your blessings. When we see FAB with his daughter in the beginning of “Get Away” we see that his priorities have shifted since she entered the world. We understand that he is trying to be a good father, and that this responsibility comes with an increased level of love and discipline.
FAB’s wise words on “Get Away” are too numerous to quote here, but he is both empathetic and encouraging. He shelves the preachiness that is the downfall of many artists/educators/activists in favor of validating the difficult experiences Oakland youth endure. But in true FAB fashion, relating is not the end, it’s a means. Life is indeed difficult in the flats of Oakland, but that just means that we have to be more resolute and tap into the resilience we were blessed with. The take home hope is that we can listen and take flight enough to free our minds. Because only then can we make this city our promised land. And only then can we live our lives here with the strength and renewed sense of purpose necessary to succeed.
We are all blessed differently and we are all blessings to others as well. So next time you think of putting your life on the line, think of everyone who loves and needs you. Think of a way to get away and breathe for a second. Then come back and lend that perspective to the rest of us who can’t see past our own demons. Strive to be great enough that you can make someone smile the way FAB’s daughter smiles at him.