JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia –
Self-fulfilling prophecy is a process through which an originally false expectation leads to its own confirmation. Unfortunately, this happens too often to our youth. They become branded with titles and labels and are demonized when those negative expectations come to fruition.
Rather than succumbing to the negativity that plagued his early life, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eddie Yates, 438th Supply Chain Operation Squadron mission capable technician at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, found his outlet learning about historical figures in the black community like Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley and Antwone Fisher who endured many of the hardships he himself grew up facing.
Growing up and being loved almost seems like it should be a given for children, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Some children grow up in rough areas, broken homes, or abusive family dynamics.
Yates grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, with his mother and two siblings. While some know this city as Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, Yates hardly found solace in his hometown.
“I grew up in a rough home, my father passed away three months before I was born,” Yates said. “A lot of the things that I know now I had to teach myself since my mom was working more than one job trying to raise three kids by herself.”
Throughout his childhood, Yates endured trauma in the home.
“Things weren’t always great at home,” Yates said. “It was very abusive physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Stemming from years of abuse, Yates developed anger issues which caused him to get into fights as a kid. Yates was surrounded by fighting and shootings which plagued his hometown. Still dealing with his anger to this day, Yates found other healthy outlets to help him cope that didn’t involve fighting.
Modeling the historical figures who have helped shape his views on life, Yates took to learning everything he could about them and their struggle. Looking up to black idols like Antwone Fisher, Yates realized that the struggle these figures endured was all too similar to his own life.
“I think I relate with Antwone Fisher the most because he had an issue with his anger,” Yates said. “The Navy is where he found his strength to not let the circumstances of his past become his future and that’s how I’m trying to live my life now.”
According to Yates, his mother fueled his desire to want more from life and often worked hard to prove her wrong. She would often tell Yates that he would not amount to anything, but Yates did not let this negativity deter him.
Yates was the first of his siblings to graduate from high school and he also graduated with honors. He was the first of his siblings to go to college.
Trying not to mirror the pitfalls of his mother, Yates hopes to use the teachings and lessons from his idols growing up to lead his future children down a better road than the one he had to endure.
“The only person who can truly hold you back from anything is yourself,” Yates said. “I want them to believe wholeheartedly so they can look at themselves in the mirror and say to themselves, I am going to succeed.”
The importance of black history cannot be understated because many of the issues and challenges faced by historical figures still affect millions of Americans to this day. It is up to each and every person to teach the next generation about not history portrayed in text books, but the deeper history and lessons its individuals have endured.