This is a story that not only doesn’t end well but is also indicative of the many bad decisions made by everyone around this young man. Three years ago, Anthony Boyd was a student of mine in the Sundown Program.  I knew him because I had picked up some extra hours teaching in Sundown English for a couple of hours a day, four days a week.  Every day I went down to the program there were three or four boys, young men if you think about it, who were talking about business.  If you’re a teacher with some of the more difficult to reach students, you’re always looking for topics that get those students interested.  

There are a few subjects / topics that I’ve used over the years: conspiracy theories, history, economics, comic books.  These are all things that I can speak about well and have used to get the attention of hard-to-reach students.  After some false starts I realized that these young guys were always talking about making money.  There it is. That’s the hook. 

So, I went down there one day, and they were talking about selling weed.  I started to listen.  I paid close attention before I said anything.  They were focusing on their methodologies / strategies for selling weed, and I also listened carefully about the way they were going about their business. That day, and Anthony himself, is memorable because Anthony was talking about selling weed a better way.  What got the other students confused and clowning on him, to a degree, was that he was talking about selling weed for less. Not only that, but he was also talking about selling more weed than they were going to sell, and, therefore, he’d be making more money because he was selling more product. 

Because he was a bit more intelligent and had much more self-confidence, the ridicule and joking about his plan by the other guys didn’t have an effect. It didn’t have the effect that the other guys wanted because they couldn’t understand how to make more money by sending prices down. In their minds, you made money only by raising prices because then you got more income, and the money came flowing in faster.  Anthony intuitively understood that you could make money even if you charge less because people would come to you because of lower prices and by then selling more weed. Basic economics.

This basic business chatter was the perfect opportunity for me to jump in and mediate.  I was able to explain in a way that Anthony couldn’t that what he was doing was competing on price. And I told those other guys that they were going to lose the weed distribution business to Anthony because he was charging less. The only way they were going to compete with him was if they were going to have clearly higher-level product and yet a still competitive price.

Anthony liked it that I was defending him and his position. The other guys were laughing at him. But here I came in, obviously not a distributor of weed to say the least, and able to enunciate the way someone could use an economic concept that he understood intuitively to not only make more money but gain market share.

Anthony had natural confidence in himself. He spoke in an authoritative manner. And he was very interested in business making money basically in having a hustle. One of the issues was that Anthony really couldn’t write. His English teacher told me that he did almost no writing at all, to the point that when you saw his writing, an experienced teacher would recognize that there was something not firing – some neuron wasn’t functioning correctly in the transfer of thoughts into speech, and then the transfer of speech into writing. I don’t really know what was going on with that, nor did I know how to fix it. I had no clue as to his academic background in his younger years, but he was in the Sundown program because he really, flat out, could not write. Some students don’t write or won’t write because they don’t want to, but Anthony didn’t write because it was as if the act of writing itself was an impossible burden.

I couldn’t figure out how to fix the issue and I was only going down to the Sundown Program in that manner for a couple of months. My role was limited.  Anthony and I connected and debated a few topics over the next couple of months. He spoke with such command and confidence, and he sounded so clear and capable that the other students, who were always putting up a front, were nervous about stepping to him and debating anything with him – so they didn’t. And so, what happened was he became overly arrogant when he spoke, even on topics that he didn’t understand.

I don’t know what the situation was that went badly for him, but Anthony wound up spending time in jail. I found out later from his math teacher that he was back home and was afraid to come out of the house. It’s one of the reasons why the next year I never saw him, even though he was on the Sundown roster.  He was scared to come outside.  Apparently, he had been labeled a jailhouse snitch.  I have no idea if it’s justified or not.  

At one point, in late Spring 2021, Anthony did come out of his house, and he was killed.  Anthony was shot in broad daylight during the pandemic school lockdown era. He stepped outside briefly and they got him. At the time it made no sense why anyone under the age of 18 would stay home, as the Novel Coronavirus had basically no effect on teenagers. According to the CDC an infinitesimal fraction of a percentage of Americans under the age of 18 died of the Coronavirus. You can look that up yourself.  Had Anthony been in school it’s possible things would have turned out as tragically for him as they did.  Or perhaps he would have been able to reach out to someone in the school system for help or protection. Instead, young adults were kept out of school for effectively no reason. This proved to be costly.

I tried to explain to Anthony’s father, at the funeral, how I not only enjoyed Anthony’s company but his burgeoning intellect and willingness to debate.  He was hard of hearing, but I tried.  I think Anthony would have escaped the streets eventually.  They wouldn’t have claimed him as a statistic.  

But we don’t know. And now we’ll never know.