Elliott, a shipping worker and college student in Torrance


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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in Torrance, California. I’m 22 — actually I just turned 22 a few weeks ago. I’ve lived in Torrance about six years. I grew up in Los Angeles and then we moved when I was in the tenth grade, we moved out here. I finished high school out here and I’ve been here ever since. It’s just me and my grandma.


What part of L.A. did you grow up in? What was that like?

The mid-city West Jefferson Area. It depends on who you talk to so I’ll just say those two. It says West Jefferson, so I’m going to say West Jefferson. Honestly for me, it was pretty cool. My grandma was overprotective, so I didn’t get the bad stuff of it. It has its ups and downs, but it was cool. Different from here — completely different.


How is it different?

The environment, because more out there, you have to watch out for gangs. Things like that. My grandma was constantly telling me what to wear, like red and blue, so I wouldn’t get all into gang situations. Here you don’t really have those situations. And then it’s more diverse. More out there it was more Latin and African Americans. Here, it’s every race.


Tell me about school. How far are you?

This will be my second year. I’m studying journalism and I’m going to petition for a double major for marketing. I have a plan. This is my plan: I really love journalism, because I really love sports.

So I want to try to see if I can get either just like a blog or a paper to talk about it. And then I’m seeing with sports, the business side of things is booming right now, so I want to get that, and I want to go for my masters for sports management. And I don’t really know what I want to get my doctorate in, but I just want people to call me doctor. That’s all I want my doctorate for.


Are you working right now?

I work at a shipping company part-time right now. Last Friday was my third anniversary there.


How do you like it?

I don’t really — I’ll be honest. I don’t like it, but it’s cool for right now. It’s a good part-time job for school because it goes good with my school because I work Monday through Fridays. So Monday through Fridays is school and work, and weekends I get to study and hang out with friends and things like that.


Walk me through a typical day for you.

I try to wake up at 1:15 in the morning. It’s super hard. On a good day I get up, but this morning was hard. I get to work around 2:30 am. I load trucks — the ground trucks that deliver in the neighborhoods, I load those. I try to take a break around 4:15 am. I try to take a lunch around 5:30 am. And then after that it’s pretty much get everything in the trucks, time to go home. I finish by 8:45 am.

After that I go to the gym, right after work. Then I go home, take a shower, get dressed for school. Then I go to school. After that, I go to the library to study and talk to friends in the library. After that I come home, go to sleep, and repeat my day.


What about on weekends? What do you do?

I hang out with friends, go out, go out to bars and things like that. We go out, enjoy our time, be typical guys, try to find girls, things like that. When I don’t want to go out, I stay home. I try to read. I like to read articles and things, because I want to be a journalist. So I try to pick up on other people’s journalistic styles and take that in. Or I just sleep. Watch movies, I really like movies.


You’ve mentioned your friends and your grandma. Who else is an important part of your community?

My great-grandma and my auntie. My auntie’s my grandmother’s sister. And I’m really close with them. They live in L.A. I’m always over there a lot. My great-grandma’s kind of older now so I’m always over there visiting her, watching her, helping her, things like that. That’s my buddy — she loves me to pieces and I love her back.


Tell me about being in the Brotherhood Crusade.

I’m not in it anymore. I went there like August 2013 and was done October 2015. My goal was I really wanted a job. Because I just wanted stuff, and I’m older and I hate asking for money. And so I really wanted the job. But at the time, they didn’t have their job readiness program. So I went through the other classes, with the other kids, because they also help people get their GED, so I was in class with them just to waste time until the job readiness program was ready.

So I learned a lot from them. What I learned there was losing a lot of bad habits. They helped me with mock interviews. When I interviewed with UPS, they told me to ask questions. So I was always asking questions. I was the last person to go in, and before he even asked me any question, he said, “You got the job.” But I was only in the program two months — it was fun. It was a good part of my life, so I always go visit them.


Without the Brotherhood Crusade, what do you think you would be doing?

I don’t know — it was so hard to find a job. I’d go over to my auntie’s house every day, because she was trying to help me get a job. She was trying to get me into the airport, because she works in the airport. And I would be so frustrated every day because I could not find a job. It was so hard.

Everywhere, no experience, no experience, no experience, and it was so hard. And I would be just so frustrated. And I think at that time, the Brotherhood Crusade would help me calm down and relax and just take a chill pill and just keep going and don’t give up. So I think it helped me not to give up on a job.


How does your job at the shipping company relate to the rest of your career?

It’s a stepping stone. But I think it’s really a good stepping stone. It’s teaching me a lot about myself. Patience. Because it’s a labor job, and it’s tough sometimes. Like sometimes you get banged up, hurt, and you have to have patience with it.

I know it’s not what I want right now, but if I just keep at it, it’s a good thing. Like I get benefits, healthcare benefits, paid days off, paid holidays — other people don’t get that. So I’m fortunate to get that. It comes through sometimes.


For this job, what’s the path for you? Do you see a chance to get promoted?

I don’t want to go that route to get promoted because I know it’ll affect school, so I’m staying put right now and just getting good with the supervisors. I know at the end of the day, I just want to finish school. I just really want the degrees. I think it’s more for pride — and maybe pride is bad — but I really want those degrees.


Why is having the degree so important to you?

Because like in my family, no one has a degree. So I’ll be the first one. And in my head, when I was making my plans, I thought, “Why stop at one? I could go to two, and then, yeah, people could for sure call me Doctor.” I really want people to call me Doctor.


Do you feel like your voice is heard by people who are decision-makers?

I think that your voice can probably be heard locally in Torrance and in L.A., but I feel like if you keep going bigger and bigger that, no, I don’t think it can be. I think that things have never really changed. The government gives you fool’s gold — they’ll give you something so that you’ll be okay with it for now, but it’s really not changing the bigger problem. I think it never will.


What will never change?

Just society, the way it is. Something simple like racism. I don’t even think racism is as big as it used to be, maybe it’s more classism. I just think that we always look down on people instead of bringing people up and coming together.

I think that the powers that be have done a great job at dividing us, so great that we don’t even see it. We’re so much more powerful together, people don’t even know that. I don’t think we’ll all ever be joined together because it’s just constantly dividing us. People don’t even see it.


Did you vote in the election?

I didn’t vote for the presidential election, but I did vote for the propositions, because I felt they were really important. Especially with the two propositions for the death penalty.


Why not vote in the presidential election?

I just didn’t agree with both of them. I feel like it was more of entertainment than actually trying to make the country better. Every time they’d do a debate, they’re just talking about each other.

And I didn’t really feel like they were making a difference at all. Like you have one person that’s going on TV and you want to build a wall and send all the Latin Americans back to their country and things like that. Then you have Hillary Clinton who’s lied about emails and in the past has said racial slurs like African Americans are scary and things like that. Everyone kept telling me to vote the lesser of two evils, but they’re still both evil.


What would compel you to vote for a candidate in 2020?

I’m really picky, I’m a really picky person. You can tell people’s motivations. They have to really come with a good pitch. They need to bring the people back together. That’s what the country’s really about.


What would you say to the federal government if you thought they could hear you?

I don’t know what to tell them, honestly. I just really feel like if they heard me, they still wouldn’t listen to me. I feel like they already have their agenda. I just don’t feel like they’re here to help us. They say years and years, they’re here to help us, but we get the same results over and over again with each president. I feel like you would really have to get someone who’s just totally not in that circle to change the world, and I doubt that would happen.


Who do you think they are listening to if it’s not you?

The one-percenters that we know nothing about. Those rich — not like the Kardashians — I’m talking about the rich, rich families that control the world. Like the Rockefeller family, families like that. They listen to people like that. Because they have power. They control media and things like that.


If you had money to make a difference in your community, how would you spend it?

I would make a local youth center for kids, because a lot of kids are not as fortunate as me and other people. They have a lot of problems. Sometimes their problems push them into places they shouldn’t go. So youth centers for kids, things like that.

I think kids, the youth, are really important because they’re the next step up, and I really believe in taking care of the kids because some people don’t have that mentorship and environment and they have no one to talk to. They go through a lot of things. They try to get away from home and they have nowhere to go, so sometimes they go to the streets and do things they’re not supposed to.


Five years down the road, what do you want to do?

I really want a house with a big backyard. So, trying to start invest into that — I may not have it in five years, I’m not worried about that. Just start to at least putting money to the side. Start making a conscious effort.

I want a bunch of dogs and I want a big backyard so they could run and play around. I just want to be able to sit in my backyard and just relax, chill, and enjoy the day.


Any last thoughts for us?

Keep love in your heart. I tell that to everyone. Just keep love in your heart. Whatever you’re going through, persevere. There’s always a way to get through. It might seem hard sometimes, but you just have to try to get through it. Bad things that happen to you or roadblocks in life, it just makes you stronger and it makes you a better person.