I’ll miss you, Chris. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help.

  |  Topic: Bullying, Health and Wellness, Identity, My Story, School, VOX Investigates
By Mack Walker

Chris was bullied. He wasn’t the tallest person, he didn’t talk some way, didn’t walk some way, and didn’t act how some people at our school do. He was different, and in a good way, too. People always like to perceive different as weird; however, this wasn’t the case. Chris was free. Other people didn’t understand that. Other people didn’t see this the way that I see it. Honestly, I didn’t even see it like this until now. Now he’s gone.

On Feb. 10, another soul was lost. His name was Christopher. Seeing him two days before this apparent incident, it was nothing but a shocker to me. However, at the same time, it was eye-opening. This incident showed me just how fast someone can go.

Chris was a good kid, a good student, and a good person overall. He was in JROTC, and he was a standout. A scholar. Chris was most definitely a scholar. He was a magnet program student, and not only that, he placed high in at the Westlake High School science fair.

Was Christopher my friend? I’d consider him one of mine. He sat by me and my friends at lunch, joked with us, and occasionally let us have some of his food (he was very stubborn with it). Chris was a good guy. However, the outside is the only thing humans can see from a first look. You have to take time and get to know a person to really get to know how they’re feeling. I wish now I would’ve sat down with Chris to get to know and understand how he felt. In some ways, I feel like I already do.

Chris was a strong, intelligent, African-American male. He did not deserve the persecution of the people around him. He did not deserve to be pushed away by everyone he knew. Most importantly, he did not deserve to be pushed to his brink. If you can’t recognize your own intelligence, don’t trash someone else’s. Don’t yuck someone else’s yum. Now look where we are. Another angel has fallen due to persecution coming from his own people. How is this next generation going to survive if a person can’t find a safe haven around his own people? Why does intelligence make you different? Where does the intelligent black man go in times like this?

Just the other night, I had a dream about my friends when we were seniors. Oddly enough, and as far out as it seemed, Chris appeared in my dream. He looked older, taller and sturdier. The same day, I saw Chris for the last time. It passed by in a flash, and usually it wouldn’t matter. He rushed by our lunch table in his JROTC uniform, the outfit I saw him in most and what I believe he probably felt most comfortable in. I paid little to no mind to it, tilting my head slightly to see where he ended up. Soon, he sat down next to a few of the magnet girls. I went back to eating my food. My last experience with Chris was lackluster. However, now, after I put my dream and this experience together, I feel somehow at fault, because in some way I feel like I knew this would end up happening. I did nothing to help it, or help him. In my dream, Chris bragged. He had gotten into his dream college, and he was ecstatic. Chris was intelligent, and I knew he could make it. Just like in real life, just like I believe every person can make it.

Why? Why does one’s life have to be taken away due to someone else’s harsh ways? How can someone’s discomfort make someone else comfortable? Why did someone have to die for them to actually get the message? I want Chris’ life to not be in vain. I want this to be the last time I see someone hurt over someone else’s bullying.

Sadly, it seems that what I want to happen won’t happen. This world will not allow it to happen. No matter how fast or hard we work for it, it won’t happen. That’s how messed up we are. An intelligent being can not walk around school without being seen as weird. A black male can not walk down the street with a hoodie without someone being worried about him being a thug. I can’t comprehend it; however, this is the world we live in.

When knocking at the door of promise, we are turned away. Will we ever find an answer to this, or will we continue to live on with this mentality? Will we ever overcome this difficult circumstance? For now, this is unknown. A life was lost. A very dear life, young man, and classmate who had definite promise. I will miss you, Chris. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help you. Rest easy, my man.

Artwork by Milyon Askins, Westlake High School

Mack, 14, attends to Westlake High School. He’d like to spread bullying awareness to everyone and make sure that everyone understands that we all bleed one color: red.

Need help?

Teen Line is a nonprofit that offers support by teens, for teens (ages 13 to 19) by phone or text.

  • CALL 310-855-4673
  • TEXT TEEN to 839863

They also have a “Teen Yellow Pages,” searchable resource guide.

 

VOX also has compiled some resources about bullying. And this semester VOX Investigates mental health. We invite your personal stories, poetry, letters, questions and story ideas about how mental health impacts teens today. Just email media@voxatl.org. 

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