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First Semester
Cover of First Semester
First Semester
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James "JD" Dawson grew up in the hood, but left a life of violence three thousand miles behind to make something of himself at University of Atlanta. But when the freshman got off to a fool's start--kicking it with his new homeboys, showing up late to class, not studying and checking out the shorties--JD was assigned a tutor, the luscious Katrina Turner. She made studying real fun. But if JD wanted to get with a girl like Katrina, he'd also have to learn to grow up.

James "JD" Dawson grew up in the hood, but left a life of violence three thousand miles behind to make something of himself at University of Atlanta. But when the freshman got off to a fool's start--kicking it with his new homeboys, showing up late to class, not studying and checking out the shorties--JD was assigned a tutor, the luscious Katrina Turner. She made studying real fun. But if JD wanted to get with a girl like Katrina, he'd also have to learn to grow up.

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    THE CRIB


    No matter how hard I tried to enjoy myself on graduation night, I couldn't party the way I wanted to. I walked across the stage, heard my name called on the loudspeaker, shook the principal's hand, got my diploma, turned my tassels and threw my cap in the air. I even took pictures with my family afterward. Yet a small part of me still felt like a failure.

    Maybe sitting at the kitchen table guzzling shots of Hennessey with my boy T-Spoon had something to do with my moment of introspection. But for some reason, I just wasn't in the the end of the line. Just getting a high school diploma was the biggest accomplishment they would ever know. T-Spoon was a fifth-year senior who bounced around four different high schools before finally giving up and getting his GED a couple just to have his GED, especially since he had a baby on the way. I've known T-Spoon since elementary school, and I must admit, I never even thought he would go for his GED. He was one of my boys who I'd grown up with, but knew to keep at a distance, because he was a live wire. With T-Spoon you never knew what to expect. Although we hadn't talked much over the last couple months, I knew that for T-Spoon, getting his GED was equiv the more his sentences were filled with a hopeless hood mentality all too common where I'm from.

    "You know you my nigga, right?" he asked in a drunken slur as he tore the plastic off a Swisher Sweet cigar wrapper. "I bet you never thought your boy would've graduated, huh?"

    By "graduated" I took it he meant got his GED. Instead of asking for clarification, I just flowed with it.

    "You're doing your thing, blood," I said, taking another swallow of Hen.

    "Doing my thing, huh?" he asked. "Man, what's up with you tonight? You seem like you're somewhere else, blood."

    "I'm just tripping on how fast time is flying, bro," I said. "I'm looking around at cats we done played Little League with, football with--they're grown men now. Breezies we used to play hide-and-get-it with at recess are walking around pregnant."

    "I guess so," I said.

    "But that's called life," he said, as he split the cigar in half and dumped its tobacco in the garbage can. "And I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying mine. A nigga just came up on a quarter pound of some of that purp we robbed from the white boys out in Vallejo last weekend."

    "Y'all hit 'em up for a quarter pound?"

    "And got out of there like a thief in the night, pimpin'. But like I was sayin', I'm figna make a couple dumps, get this money and smoke like Bob Marley. If I get all this weed off in the next week, I'll have enough to go up on a half pound by myself, and still have enough to throw some dubs on the Caprice."

    "Then what?"

    "What you mean, then what?"

    "Say you get off all that fire in a week, you get your half a powwow and you hook up your car. Then what?"

    "Then I do it all over again," he said as he whipped a fat dime sack out of his pocket and began to break down the weed on the kitchen table. "You know a nigga got a seed on the way, so I gotta grind."

    "That's exactly what I'm talking about, blood," I said. "I didn't sit through all these classes for four years just to grind. And neither did you. A nigga's tired of trying to make ends meet slangin' these dope sacks. There's gotta be more to life than this."

    "For some people there is," he mumbled as he licked the blunt and rolled it to give it an airtight seal. "That's why I got my GED, so I'll have something to fall back on. But last time I checked, Microsoft ain't hiring people with GEDs. So until they start, I'm hustling, blood. But you got...

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