Dedrick C. Daniels

While being raised in Daly City’s Bayshore District by a single mother, he experienced many traumatic struggles that developed his own violent behavior, ultimately leading to his incarceration. Inspired by his son Taidrick, Dedrick aims to make amends and stop the violence in his community so no child has to go through similar trauma. For more work by Dedrick and peers, visit the Community Works West RSVP “The Issue” online. Peace.

Crabs In A Bucket 1

This piece of writing is dedicated strictly to my fellow hustlers in the hood. We do our absolute best to “get it out the mud” and “hustle hard”. Myself, I have always been very arrogant, and I had a thing for letting it be known that I had money. By any and all means, I’d work to stay at the top. When I’d fall, I’d become a “crab in the bucket”, and pull someone else down too in order to climb to the top.

I use the phrase “crabs in a bucket” because that’s exactly how the people in my environment, myself included, acted. If you place a bunch of crabs in a bucket, they will continuously try to climb out. They will grab at one another and pull each other down in their desperate attempts to escape. Each crab has the same goal, getting out of the bucket, but won’t/can’t help each other.

This is the same thing that I see in my community. We all want to make enough money to get out and do a bunch of fancy shit in life. The problem is complacency, jealousy, and a loss of focus. I for sure lost focus of my goal and just stuck with what was happening in the hood. My main thing was looking the part for as long as I could. My ass wasn’t going anywhere though. Life became a competition and I was going nowhere fast as hell.

When I was at the bottom, I would do all types of “hater” shit in order to get past the crabs that were also at the bottom with me. The more I climbed, the more crabs I put under me, the more crabs I pulled down, the more I began getting pulled down by the ones under me.

This foolishness continued for a good length of time, and we all got nowhere. Honestly speaking, some crabs die in the process, or get seriously injured. It took me some deep reflection to acknowledge the role I played in this nonsensical lifestyle/deathstyle. Unfortunately, it took coming to jail for my eyes to open. I noticed the violent charges my peers were facing, and how these crimes against our brothers and sisters were openly glorified. I noticed how others were being oppressed, and the lack of brotherhood amongst us. My role in these crimes and glorification of them was detrimental to myself and my community. Being a new father and wanting to live a beautiful life led to a search for a deeper understanding of my behaviors, and a desire to change how I’ve been living. Now, I look for ways to support people in their journeys, and I surround myself with people that will do the same for me.

The difference between us and these crabs is that we have the ability to make a conscious decision to stop hindering and start helping one another. We no longer have to be the “crabs in a bucket.” We can be beautiful men and women, and empower one another. With the understanding that we have similar goals, we can help keep each other focused, share resources (whatever little ones we have), and we can reach down into that bucket and pull out our brothers and sisters that have yet to find their way. Today I can honestly say “I’m not longer a crab in a bucket. I have found my way out, and I will gladly help you find yours.”

1 Daniels is a participant in the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP), a program of the nonprofit Community Works West. Rooted in values of restorative justice, Community Works West empowers individuals and families impacted by incarceration and advocates for a more humane criminal justice system.

The RSVP program works with men incarcerated in San Francisco County Jail who have violence documented in their criminal histories. Through a rigorous curriculum, participants critically analyze and deconstruct the Male Role Belief System of superiority and dominance, reflect on personal trauma, and hear the experiences of survivors of violence. Facilitators and peers help lead each other to personal accountability and healing, and develop tools to stop their violence and transform their lives.

This last summer, a group of nine participants, including Daniels, gathered to sit on the editorial board for a RSVP publication called The Issue. The book contains stories, experiences, and realizations from contributors.

-Kristin Godfrey, Santa Clara University Jean Donovan Fellow at Community Works West and summer editor of The Issue