It was seventh grade and I was just starting junior high school at Intermediate School 27 in New York City. It took about a week to figure out that going to this school was not going to be a fun experience.
The first week at lunch the ordeal began. The older and tougher kids started hitting me up for money. It was not much really, a nickel here and a dime there, enough to buy a snack or two. And it was not the money that got to me; rather, it was the daily humiliation and the almost constant fear. To know each day that someone will threaten you eats away at the spirit. Leaving school, I had been beaten up several times, nothing too serious and not for money—just for the fun of it.
I tried not to tell ...