Why Shaka Senghor Chose a Life on the Streets: "We Banded Together Around Our Brokenness"

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In the '80s, as the crack epidemic ravaged Detroit, Shaka Senghor enjoyed a sheltered upbringing in a middle-class neighborhood. An exemplary student, he aspired to be a doctor one day. However, when he turned 11, Shaka's life took an abrupt turn as he watched his parents' marriage implode. Helpless, abandoned and unable to endure the harsh abuse at the hands of his mother, he ran away and started dealing drugs.

He was not alone. The gritty streets of Detroit were a magnet for vulnerable African-American youth from dysfunctional families, who eventually succumbed to a systemic cycle of poverty, drugs and crime. Sadly, Shaka found a sense of belonging in these inner-city gangs.

"I was around other broken, fragile, young males. We banded together around our brokenness," Shaka tells Oprah. When Shaka chose to join a gang, he was looking for more than just a means of survival. He explains to Oprah that what lured him to street life was finally finding the acceptance and support that he was so desperately seeking.