This does not rhyme, but I consider it poetry because it comes from my heart. I was asked to speak at a "STOP THE VIOLENCE RALLY/MARCH" and I was lost for words. I didn't know what to speak about, and then one day in class it came to me. Why not write about why I speak....... WHY I SPEAK As I stand here in front of you all today, I speak to you. But the most important thing I just said is that I speak. So I ask myself, “Why do I speak?” and then it comes to me……… I speak because God gave me a voice. I speak because my voice needs to be heard I speak because it’s all I’ve ever done, and I all I know how to do I speak because my words are powerful and in them is life, and when I speak they come to life I speak because I have a story to tell and who better to tell it than me. I speak because Gang violence has ruined lives I speak because the war is not only in Iraq, but here in the streets of San Diego So, do you know why I speak? I speak because we are committing genocide I speak because the SouthEastern division of San Diego should not be known as “the hood” I speak because I should be able to wear whatever color I want, on any street and not be gunned down because of it I speak because I don’t want to read another story about a teen that was killed while waiting for the bus I speak because I have an aunt who took out extra life insurance on her kids because she fears for their lives I speak because life shouldn’t have to be this way I speak because we as a community are affected either directly or indirectly I speak because when you hurt, I hurt I speak because it’s a never ending struggle I speak because like it or not, we’re family I speak because I need you, just as much as you need me But not only do I speak for myself….. I speak for those who have been permanently silenced by gang intimidation. Oh you don’t know who that is? Those are the ones who know something but are afraid to come forth. But see, I speak because I'm not afraid Do you understand yet? Well let me make it a little more personal I speak because Joseph Stancil was stabbed to death I speak because Travis Banks was shot and killed at Mission Beach I speak because Rusty Seau was shot and killed a block away from his home I speak because Michael Beckwith was shot and killed while visiting his girlfriend in Meadowbrook Apartments I speak because Keeko Sinegal was shot and killed and his murderer live a block away from his aunts house I speak because Kevin Kennedy was shot and killed while breaking up a fight at a party and his murderers still roam the streets of San Diego Was that personal enough? You understand now, right? You know exactly why I speak? Well if it’s still not clear yet, allow me to finish. I speak because Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, Marcus Garvey and others before me have spoken and they are our history I speak because our history goes beyond just you and me I speak because if we don’t know our history then we are doomed to repeat it I speak because to know me is to know my past, my present, my future and ALL MY PAIN I speak because I AM the future I speak because its time for a change I speak because I must be that change that I wish to see in the world I speak because if I don’t………… then who will????