Tyrius Ammons, a senior at Richmond High School, guest hosts this week's California Report Magazine. (Courtesy Tyrius Ammons)
This week, the California Report Magazine has an 18-year-old co-host: Tyrius Ammons, a senior at Richmond High School. It's part of Youth Takeover week at KQED. He shared his thoughts about his time behind the microphone, and told his story about growing up with a single mother.
I’m excited about this youth takeover. Getting young people on a show that’s been around for a long time gives it a new spice. And people get a little exposure to students and their lives, what they go through. It might not get all positive responses, but it may kickstart something very awesome.
I not only get to guest co-host this week's show, I also get to tell part of my own story.
My mom never told me I couldn’t cry. I didn’t have to grow up like that. She never told me not to cry, or to just suck it up. Showing emotions was easy.
My mom was a single mom. She raised me and my sister by herself.
When my classmates and I decided to interview our moms about how they raised us, I had to ask my mom about things that happened a really long time ago, when I was four or five. We went to a women’s shelter. We never brought it up or talked about it.
My mom was about my age now when she had me. We lived in Oakland, and when I was about four or five, our home was vandalized. Someone came in and sprayed graffiti. We lived in a really tough neighborhood in Oakland. So she felt like it wasn’t a safe environment to spend another night in. So she made a couple of phone calls, and we ended up at a women’s shelter somewhere in Oakland.
Here’s a little bit of my interview with my mom about that time:
Tyrius Ammons: So [do] you want to say what was going through your head while you were there [at the women’s shelter]?
Akisha Ammons: What was going through my head was ‘what could I have done to have avoided being in that situation?’ Just being able to keep myself with my head up and stay focused and not get too distracted. Or [fall] into a state of depression or feeling as if I was defeated.
Tyrius: How did it affect me? Were you worried about ... putting any mental strain upon me?
Akisha: At the time that was not my concern. I was very young when I had you ... At that time, all I could think of was our well-being. And keeping us safe.
The shelter was a really big house. I remember the first time I watched Pocahontas was at that house. And I remember there was a old African-American guy and he was really nice. And when I got older, like I can't really forget the guy's face and I can't forget the office, because ... I couldn't go in there. I think at the time my mom was at work, so they were taking care of me while I was there. I remember a lot of those little things. I can't forget.
Eventually, we ended up moving to Richmond. I'm happy she did that because the part of Oakland where I grew up as a kid was very gang infested. There were a lot of unhealthy things for a young man growing up. It was a really good thing that my mom got us out of the ghetto. I could have ended up in a different situation. I might have been in a gang or I might have been shot. I mean, [because of] selling drugs.
Instead, I’m about to graduate high school. I’m an artist. I like to do animation. I think I’d like to go into storytelling, using animation. Telling real stories.
Here's an animation project Tyrius did for his advanced media class, based on a Story Corps interview he did with his 86-year-old grandmother: