Jahsan Lambey is one of the Crenshaw High class of 2012 I've been following as they make the transition from high school to the the adult world. Jahsan got his lucky break when he reconnected with his “big brother” Quinn – a guy he’d met in church as a kid.
Quinn turned out to be the right guy at the right time. He hooked Jahsan up with a job in auto tech a few days after he graduated. Not bad considering that youth unemployment hovers at 25%. And for African American youth you can almost double that.
Jahsan spoke with excitement about the “free education” he was getting at the auto tech shop. He watched more experienced technicians and asking them questions.
But to turn that lucky break into something -- like escaping the cycle of unemployment and underemployment -- Jahsan needed stability. This means having a car, and a place to live, two things that are hard to get without a good paying job.
When I left Jahsan, he was just about to move out of Quinn's house and looking for a place to rent. But I could tell the math wasn't going to work out in his favor. Food, bills, part-time work and now rent?
The next time I was in LA, Jahsan wasn’t answering calls. His big brother said things hadn’t worked out with the job due to logistical problems, like Jahsan navigating the two hour ride to get there on time and having a steady place to live. When I finally reached Jahsan by phone, he wasn’t that bright shiny kid of a few months before. He sounded distant and closed off.
I kinda think if he hadn’t expected to rise so far up, he might not have fallen so far down.
But he’s 19 with some magic to him and a lifetime to figure things out.
And as my mother-in-law once said “life is long,” and I suspect Jahsan will find a place for himself in the world. He’s certainly got a lot to offer, and hopefully the world can offer him a few things back, like a little time, grace and luck to figure it all out.