Christian hip-hop artist Beacon Light told Batesville High School students about the highs and lows he has experienced throughout his life during a convocation sponsored by the Batesville Community School Corp. Choices program.
The Grands Rapids, Michigan, native revealed how hip-hop began: "It started in New York in the Bronx in the '70s. Hip-Hop is more of a culture, and rap is music of this culture.
"Hip-hop was a positive alternative in a negative environment. In the Bronx, there were some kids who were lost and no one cared about. They wanted to be valued. They started doing graffiti, which was a form of expression for these kids, and then there was the music .... Hip-hop was this living culture that began to develop and keep growing."
The speaker pointed out, "No matter how hard teachers and staff and students try to make this (school) a positive place, it's not a positive place for everybody. Here’s the thing, you guys (students) are the ones who dictate what your community looks like. The teachers and staff are there to guide you, but at the end of the day, you make Batesville High School a positive or negative place for people.
"Some people hate coming to school every day because the community talks behind their backs." He asked the group, "Who has had someone comment on social media with something that hurt your feelings or was inappropriate?"
"Think about how you treat each other. Your decisions are important, and you can control what happens."
"If a friend pulls out a bag of weed or if there's drinking at parties, what do you do?
"Sometimes you have to surround yourself with people who want to be great .... If you're an athlete, you want to succeed so you get together with your teammates and practice .... There are very few artists who are very good at art without drawing all the time.
"If you're trying to make good decisions in your life, you need to choose to do the right thing .... You don't want to get caught up in bad decisions."
"For a lot of people, drugs, alcohol and saying something negative behind someone's back is what they do, but this is just a temporary fix, an escape from reality .... You still wake up and are stuck in the same situation.
"On the subject of drinking, this is a really bad decision maker for you, and drinking and driving don't mix.
"My wife is a nurse on a unit, and one day one of her co-workers was driving on a country road. A drunk driver, who was going 91 mph, swerved and hit her. She was in the car with her twin boys who were 5. She's not here anymore, and they're in the intensive care unit. They're going to wake up, and their mom won't be there, and their dad's not in their life."
The singer noted, "This (school) is where you learn to make good decisions .... Choosing to make the right decisions in the little things and having self-discipline gets you where you need to go .... It takes self-discipline to get up after I hit the snooze button twice. I'm going to make sure I'm up and on time as much as I can be.
"It's not easy to do the right thing unless you practice doing it. A lot of the reasons people make bad decisions is that something happened to them and no one knows that they're struggling with this."
He recalled, "When I was a kid, I used to love to be in pictures and being goofy, smiling and hanging out with friends. One I really didn't want to be in was my third-grade school picture. I actually faked being sick that day. What's not funny is the reason I did this.
"Earlier that summer, I was abused by a family member, but not an immediate family member. I didn't tell anyone what happened. For whatever reason on picture day, I didn't want my picture taken. I was holding in something that happened that no one else knew about .... The abuse kept happening until middle school. It was for five to six years of my life.
"I know there are people in this room who are being abused. If you don't tell somebody, you're going to keep living with that, and it's going to affect you."
"For high school, I went to a new school, and I kept living life like everything was fine .... All of you have hopes and dreams, but sometimes there's something going on inside you that no one knows about. It may not be abuse, but it may be that someone said something bad about you.
"Everyone has something they're struggling with. For me, it was living with that lie. People thought I was cool or popular, but they had no idea I was struggling and I didn't like myself and felt dirty. Regardless of how much I tried to portray I was OK, I wasn't OK."
He asked all those in attendance to listen to one of his songs, "Falling." "Be quiet and think about whatever you're struggling with: I looked to the earth. What I saw. Everybody lost. Everybody gonna fall. Shake it off. Trying to act like nothing's wrong. Put a mask on ... and I can't, I can't keep on falling ...."
The singer announced, "I don't know what your struggle is right now. All I know is it needs to be shared. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse that was happening to me until I told my father when I was 19, and it was a life-changing event.
"You telling someone about your struggle, whether it's your parent, teacher, counselor ... is one of the most important things you can do. It's the only way you can get help. If you don't talk about those situations and acknowledge them, it can never get better because you're still holding it in.
"After I told my dad, I felt like I had to confront the person who did this to me. I met him face to face. I call that person my hater, but I chose to love that person even though he had messed my life up.
"Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison, hoping someone else is going to die .... Choosing to love and let it go sets you free."
"What I found out was that the person who abused me was abused, too. Abuse is a cycle .... A lot of bad habits we have are cycles. Choosing to let it go is hard, but it's the right thing to do."
"Everyone in this room has the potential to change the world," he stressed. "If you choose to do the right thing, turn down the drink, don't do drugs ... the trajectory of your life will end somewhere better."
He ended with his song "Haters": "Haters gon' hate. Lovers gon' hate, too. I don't know about you, though, but I'm looking for a breakthrough. What you gon' do? Who you gon' be? You can hate all you want, but as for me, I love the haters ...."
Diane Raver can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.