my experience in the circle of discipline

exclusive feature
Brittany Finley
The Liberator Magazine 4.5 #13, 2005


The Circle of Discipline is a non-profit community organization in Minneapolis, MN whose mission is to provide young adults with alternative programs and enrichment activities that address physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. The following is a letter to the Liberator from a member of the COD.

I remember one of the Circle of Discipline instructors named Adonis Frazier saying to me, 'We are like a chain and each one of us is a link in that chain. If any of the links break, we are no longer a chain.' I believe that is why we are supposed to stand up and help each other the most -- keeping the chain strong.

I once was a broken link in that chain. One of my brothers, Tremaine Cahlee Finley, was shot and murdered in a car jacking. He died on November 17, 2004, because he wouldn't give up his car.

When Tremaine had passed it was very devastating for me. I couldn't stop screaming; I felt so much pain. I thought it would never be the same. Every night I would stay up waiting for him to come home and walk through the door. He never did.

I tried to tuck my pain away and go to school, but when I got there I broke down. However, my brothers and sisters in Circle of Discipline comforted me.

I stayed at my teacher's house, Ms. Tikonuran Blackamore. She let me talk because she could see the pain was consuming me. After we talked, I felt much better. I didn't want to go home because I tried to be strong for my mom, but I couldn't. It was too much to see her go through that.

Self-respect, discipline, in the mind, body and soul... this to me describes the essence of the Circle of Discipline. We were taught that these were the basics of becoming successful adults and citizens.

Self-respect is how you carry yourself and how you let people treat you. Our teachers, Ms. Blackamore, Adonis, and Kid instilled in us the importance of having higher standards for our friends and ourselves. One way of respecting myself as a young lady is having boundaries; for example if you have a boyfriend you don't have to let him touch you in a private place for him to like you.

In order to achieve our goals in life, we all need discipline. For instance, I want to play college-level basketball. I need to push myself to be in shape, if I want to play at the top of my game. It will also be just as important to keep my grades up, if I'm going to be eligible to play at all. I have to be disciplined mentally and physically. The Circle of Discipline has prepared me to do this by disciplining me academically, physically, and spiritually. They have challenged me to be better at everything I do, like pushing me to raise my grades at school.

You need to be willing to work hard together with your fellow Circle of Discipline classmates who we now consider our sisters and brothers. In our class we were taught that when one of us succeeded in reaching our goals we all succeed. That also means that if one of us messes up, like getting kicked out of class for not doing our homework, we all mess up.

We had to do physical training like push-ups and running laps. Those exercises were difficult and some of us thought Ms. Blackamore and Adonis were mean, but we learned that they were pushing us to be better mentally and physically. They had me thinking about my actions, making me want to be better. And I am.

Tremaine was not a gangster or a bad person. My brother was doing well. He had a full-time job at IKEA, and he was getting ready to play Division I football for the Minnesota Gophers. He still holds the single game rushing record at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis at 102 yards. I can't understand why they would take him from us. I remember one day when I couldn't stop crying and my Circle of Discipline sisters Zorita and Zonita Moore showed me what true friends really were by helping me through my brother's death. I appreciate them, at that time I felt like a screaming voice unable to be heard, although I screamed until my throat was raw. I felt trapped in my pain that was consuming me.

One day, I was riding with Ms. Blackamore to her house when I asked, 'Is he coming back?' She told me, "no, but he will always be with you.'

I keep him alive with my memories and there's nothing wrong with talking to him, she knew he'd be listening. The truth of him not coming back hurt, but I was comforted by what she said.

They came to my brother's funeral, I own them so much, and I just want them to know that I promise to be there for them and my sisters and brothers of the Circle of Discipline.

Tremaine was a good person and I will let God deal with whoever did this to him because God has a plan for all of us.

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