Omar's Open Road
A Tree is Not Strong Without its Roots (1:19)
La Cultura Cura (0:33)
Build Relationships (0:45)
Importance of Mentors (1:12)
Wake Up Call (1:01)
Ethnic Studies (0:58)
Healing Through Culture (0:50)
Children's Defense Fund
Culture cures us; we heal through culture. We heal through our experiences and our ancestors' knowledge. I knew that I needed more of that to uplift my spirit, to help me heal from the trauma I experienced growing up.
- Stockton, California, where Omar grew up, was once named "America's Most Miserable City."
- At home, Omar experienced physical psychological violence; he internalized that violence and started on a self-destructive path.
- At one point, his principal met him at the steps of the school and told him to leave; he didn't know what his options were, so he just left.
- Luckily, he had his older brother as a role model; his brother was the first of his friends to graduate high school.
- He'd listen to his brother have intellectual conversations, and he felt powerless because he couldn't engage; decided he had to go back to school.
- He was 23 when he went back to school; started at community college, where a Chicano Studies class caught his attention.
- Realized "la cultura cura": culture cures; joined the Children's Defense Fund to help young people learn about and embrace their roots.
- Says at times, seeing young people going through what he experienced can be taxing, but he stays positive, takes everything one day at a time.