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When I Was 17, In Honor of Trayvon



Filed under : Resources, The Vent, YUM Connect

By: Carolina Pichardo

In honor of Trayvon Martin, our co-founder shares a story of when she was 17 years old and what she learned from Oprah too


There’s a quote my mother always told me: “Juventud, divino tesoro.” It ‘s a common phrase that basically translates to: “Youth, divine treasure.”

Like most children, I never knew quite what it meant. I just knew she always uttered it at the most inopportune times: like this picture.

When I was 17, I always thought there was very little that could wrong. I was interning at a top publishing company with an amazing group of editors, had just gotten back from touring Austria with my school, and – if that wasn’t enough – was accepted to my top college choice. I also had just met my sweetheart, who would later become the father of my child, and she the reason I do almost everything I do.

It was a youth definitely signaling the life I was about to live; one that at 17 years old, I could’ve never imagined.

Short of being a complete young trailblazer, my youth was also full of learning experiences – failing exams, cutting class and arguments with teachers. It was cluttered with the loss of friends and boyfriends, and best friends because of boyfriends. It was also full of low expectations that I was forced to think I had satisfied. While Trayvon was stereotyped for a hoodie, young moms like me go through it with the “knocked-up, probably on public assistance and with a pile of kids on the way” mentality.

The simple act of walking with our kids is our version of the hoodie. And imagine getting shot for looking suspicious about that?

On the cover of the May Oprah issue, the top mogul stands alongside a younger version of herself. It’s a picture of her during her earlier days in media, with the “Farrah Fawcett Hair” and an energy that you could almost feel through the pages.  It’s that youth my mom was referring to, and whom the creator of OWN named “beautiful brown-skinned girl” in a letter she addressed to her younger self. In the article, she reflects and shares how she realized her “high-calling” through her strong faith.

She took that moment of her youth to think back and grasp everything she’s learned – as an African-American woman – since then. It’s actually what I’m doing now as a young, Latina mom.

And it’s what I’m asking you to do as well.

Forget the pending trial/charges, the loss and family’s ordeal since the murder.

Remember – instead – the pictures and stories of Trayvon that have surfaced online. Whether it’s of him enjoying a birthday party, sitting with relatives, or my personal favorite – getting a hug and warm kiss from his father.

Remember the obligation each of us has to become the best person we’re meant to be, regardless of the stereotypes, hoodies and teen pregnancy statistics “society” wants to pin on us.

Let’s not forget and keep the momentum going on a positive note. Write your own reflection. Share a story of how you were when you were a 17-year-old, and what you’ve learned since then.

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