My name is Tariq Zubhuza.
I’m twenty years old and I
grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire.
I grew up with my mother and two brothers and a sister...
one older brother, one older sister,
and one younger brother.
I was about thirteen when I started getting in trouble.
My mom was really focused on
trying to keep us out of, like, poverty...
whatever...you know, like...‘cause it was just us.
I got diagnosed when I was
really young...like seven years old...
with bipolar, anxiety, anger, and all that stuff.
And I started taking medication.
I was really, really angry.
I had to go to a mental hospital
when I was seven years old, man.
We had a Boys and Girls Club and that was cool.
Growing up, it was a big influence on
a lot of things that we were doing as kids.
But that Boys Club, like,
became uncool at a certain point, you know...
around like thirteen years old.
We had a...like a little group of friends...
probably like four or five of us.
And, you know, then we start, like,
drinking alcohol and I don’t know, man...
I guess my family has...
I have a, like, strain of alcoholics in my family.
You know, I’m in...
I’m in school in seventh grade drunk in class.
I mean, if you’re eleven years old and you’re drunk,
it’s a problem already, you know what I mean?
I don’t know how the teachers didn’t really know.
I mean...but you can’t so much be focused on one kid
when you have thirty of them in front of you,
and know that this kid is coming in drunk,
unless he’s acting out.
I wasn’t...like, I’ll sleep during class 'cause
I’m drunk or just stay quiet.
But when I hit the hallway,
that’s when I’ll be drunk and I’ll,
you know, roam around grabbing butts
and starting fights and stuff like that.
I’ve never been in trouble sober before in my life.
I’ve never been arrested sober before...ever.
Anytime I ever got in trouble I was drunk.
You suspend me from school,
I’m gonna just do whatever I want.
“All right, Mom...I’m sorry.”
But then she’d go to work the next day
and I don’t have to go to school.
My little brother’s off to school...
my older brother’s off to school.
I’d sleep in. I get to sleep in, man.
I get to watch cartoons... whatever, man, you know?
We’d go play basketball.
A lot of other kids are in school,
but there’s somebody
else who’s suspended or
somebody else who’s skipping school.
And if somebody’s not skipping school,
I’d get somebody to skip school to hang out with me, you know?
And um...I’d get a girl to skip school with me
so we could have sex...whatever.
In middle school, I started getting arrested
and I’d get arrested maybe once a month...
sometimes twice in a week.
And every time I’m arrested, it’s for the same exact thing...
possession of alcohol and resisting arrest.
I’m resisting ‘cause I have alcohol.
I know I have alcohol and I don’t want to get caught
with this alcohol, so I’m running and I’m wasted, man.
I mean, I was arrested probably like eleven times
between eighth grade and ninth grade
for possession of alcohol...resisting arrest...
internal possession of alcohol...
going to school drunk.
I ended up going to a placement in ninth grade.
You go to these places and it’s, like,
just a little school that you can’t leave. Same kids...
you know what I mean? We’re all bad kids...
whatever. So now who can be the baddest?
Even as kids, you know what you’re doing is wrong.
But it’s like the risk of losing that reputation...
I’d rather risk going to jail at that...at that time.
I mean, I went freshman year zero credits...
sophomore year maybe a credit and a half...
you know what I mean?
So I went to Guidance. And I told her...I said,
“Listen, I’m not coming to school if I’m not graduating.
And I’m not coming to school just to come to school, man. I
want to drop out of high school today.”
And she...she helped me out...that woman.
I don’t remember her name. But she was like,
“Wait a minute. ” Like, “Pause.
Let’s not, like, just jump there first.” She said,
“Let me see if I can find a way to get you,
like, an alternative learning plan, so you can graduate.
And if I do that, will you...
do you promise to do the ‘whatever it is?’”
She got me into a work study program,
so I got credits for working. I had a full time job.
I was working at Circuit City.
Every, like, certain amount of hours that I worked,
I got a credit for school.
And then she got me into a night class.
And I ended up graduating,
and that was a good program for me at least.
I mean, a lot of kids...
I think that a lot of the people that
I grew up with would have succeeded in that program,
but a lot of them got...
just get kicked out before you get there.
I ended up coming to prison because I never stopped.
I never stopped drinking and using drugs.
If you’re drinking and you’re doing drugs...
just drugs alone...you’re probably in a bad atmosphere,
you know what I mean? And you...
I basically was around people that
I would never be around
and placing myself in situations that
I would never be in.
I’m around prostitutes and crack fiends
and coke heads, and it’s just, like,
this is obviously going to turn out bad.
So, I’m in prison for five years for criminal threatening.
I didn’t hurt anybody...I didn’t rob anybody, you know?
I just kind of got stuck in a bad situation
and got sent to prison.
Well, my plan while I’m here...
I’m studying a couple different languages and
studying, like, self-studying psychology.
My plan when I get out is to
stop kids from getting this far a lot earlier.
Like, I mean before high school when this kid’s drunk
in middle school, we’re going to stop that
before he goes to high school,
‘cause it’s only going to get worse.
Nobody wants to say, “I go see
a counselor”, you know?
But, like, if I had...afterschool, you know...
five minute sessions with a person, you know...
that I could connect with, you know?
And we had just a short conversation about how
the day was and what I plan on
for the rest of the day, right...
and then leave. And then that’s a person that I know
I can go to in school and talk
to when I’m really breaking apart.
And if I’m not...you know, if I’m just not talking to them
because I got this anti-social personality disorder,
well, it’s a person that I have to see at the end of the day.
So that little intervention...
I could either fall apart in front of them and they
can help me figure out what I gotta do next.
And if I had, like, somebody before I got to that point to,
like, just explain, like, you don’t need to be cool.
Like, you don’t need to just do things that everybody
else is doing. Let’s work on this. Let’s work on that.
This is a problem so we’re gonna do that.
You’re doing great in this area so let’s keep focusing on that.
Then obviously it makes a difference.
I mean, these aren’t, like, hidden secrets.
Like, this is obviously gonna make a difference
but we just don’t have, I guess, the manpower or time.
As a kid...even as an adult... like, people just don’t
do things just to do them.
They do them for a purpose.
They do them for some type of reward.
Right now, as I’m getting older, learning is a reward to me.
To speak three languages,
I think, is a great thing, you know?
And knowing...just knowing things that I didn’t know
or that I wouldn’t know is a great thing. But then,
as a kid, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to know this stuff.
As a reward, I mean, it could be...it could be anything,
I guess. I couldn’t say, like, “Student of the Month,”
‘cause if you’re from where I’m from,
you don’t care about “Student of the Month.”
It would have to be more than, “Go to school because
you’re gonna need this later on.
Go to school because you’re gonna get paid
more if you have a diploma. ” It would have to be,
somehow, the cool thing to do. It would have to be what
people want to do, you know? Like...more, like, influences...
more older role models. Like,
if the older guys that we were
hanging out with were like, “Go to school.”
You know what I’m saying? Like, we were gonna go to school.
It’s finding what is gonna be important for each kid,
because there’s not...there’s not one person in the world
who nothing matters to. Maybe not a lot, but not nothing.