Meet Danel. He is a 17-year-old, 6 foot, kind hearted, and undercover ballroom dancer. Like so many teenagers he has an addiction to video games like NBA 2K and Fortnite, and like many teenagers, he has made some life decisions that he is not so proud of.  Danel previously sold drugs and not because he was dirt poor but because it was just another way to make money. I asked if it was faster than most streams of income and he instantly responded with “hell yeah!”.

As someone who grew up in a very sheltered environment, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him and to see if the stereotypes were true.  From first glance, Danel looks a bit scary but at heart he is down to tell you some tea and eat potato chips like its nothing. I kicked off my interview with a general tell me about yourself type of question.  How was your childhood?  Danel replied, “Both of my parents are hardworking and are pretty successful individuals who love me and my siblings.  I had a pretty good childhood but it was unfortunate that I fell in with the wrong crowd.”

He then told me the differences between the schools he attended.  The first school was a predominantly white school, where vapes and pens were the normal.  However, his next school which was a bit more diverse, wasn’t into using drugs so much as they were into selling drugs.  Danel said,” They asked. You tryna make some money?” And, it was up from there.

I asked him if he was nervous the first time dealing and he said, “Yeah only because the police were nearby and the school got down like that, so fights were common.”   Afterward he said he felt relieved and the chip on his shoulder disappeared.

I asked him what he learned from this experience? “DO NOT SELL TO EVERYBODY! It’s too many opportunities for people to snitch.” He said that when he was 16 someone accused him of shorting them, which he did but wasn’t going to say that.  The buyer then pulled out a pocket knife.  He wasn’t going to risk his life so he simply asked how much he shorted him to which the buyer stated 0.2grams.  Danel stresses the stupidity behind this pocket knife in the interview by saying “He was gon kill me over .2?!” I laughed and he just continued playing his video game.

We also talked about what made him stop and if he was afraid of going to jail?  He responded, that he wasn’t afraid of going to jail but more afraid of who he was becoming.  He said, “He didn’t want to be viewed a certain way and that he was growing an enormous chip on his shoulder.”  He said, “The trait that you have to possess is being hard, because people will bitch you out of your shit.”   The chip was a byproduct of not being able to trust anyone. People would back door you or snitch on you. It was affecting his social life, and the honest and hilarious person he once was, was disappearing.   While he could have made a pretty penny, on average about $60k a year, enough to buy an apartment and other things, he’s happy with the choice he made to give up selling drugs.  It’s a past he acknowledges but definitely has learned from.