For the prologue, five Market Gallery committee members will present excerpts of texts and other content platforming lived experience related to the central issue of belonging. No prior reading is required for the prologue session. Thereafter, guest facilitators will be invited to choose and lead readings of resources.
We hope to treat it as a space for reading, listening, speaking and learning collectively. Whatever the reason, it made me invisible to everyone around me, except when my silhouette flickered from panhandling, frightening people. I moved along the street headed toward a part of downtown where the homeless lined up close to the Twelfth and Imperial trolley station. I knew a guy, named Rudy, who usually had a small tent set up outside and—if I was lucky, if he was still alive—I could crash there.
I shivered from the wind. All of my panhandling efforts had made me only two dollars and forty-five cents. I could not bring scraps back to my mom and sister. She deleted me from her memory as soon as her eyesight left me. To my left came my friend, Ray, up the sidewalk. He had overheard me panhandling. The lady I had asked for money had stopped to dig in her purse.
He trekked back down the street.
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I followed close behind. He turned down an alley and stood beside to hooded figures who shook his hand tossing up their gang sign. I walked next to Ray blowing on my hands for warmth waiting for money to magically appear. After a few minutes, a thin man in a tank top, faded blue jeans, and a mouth with sporadically missing, yellow teeth came up to us. He handed Ray twenty dollars, and Ray placed a sandwich bag containing a crystalline white substance on the ground. I watched the entire transaction.
The drug addict illuminated as he reached for the product.
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Then he disappeared out of the alley as quickly as he had appeared. I can see your ribs, bro. Just be the lookout.
I deeply inhaled then exhaled. Crack cocaine hit America hard and swept through the inner city crippling most of the minority families before my birth. I had seen it my entire life and wanted no part of it. The nationwide epidemic was just another means to an end; crazy. I brushed past Ray and marched to the end of the alley.
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I leaned against the alley wall—on patrol. The promise of food lured me and stopped me from leaving.
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I knew it was wrong, but if I left, where would I go? After about an hour—and endless foot traffic from the alley—I grew impatient. I followed another addict into the alley as he strolled up to Ray. Ray slyly flashed a small stack of cash he reserved for me. Two police cars abruptly blockaded the alley entrance. Ray, his other friend, and I darted toward the opposite end of the alleyway.
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I sped past the undercover officer as he wrestled with a boy trying to handcuff him. I sprinted with all my might. Ray and the other boy were in front of me—they were a little faster and reached the end of the alley before me. Blue and red lights flashed upon exiting. Two more police cars were parked at this end as well. Two officers tried to restrain Ray as he fought back.
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Utah Valley University.
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Orpheum Theatre. The Sound Academy. Borgata Event Center. March 15, [a].