BLOOMer Spotlight: Zakeer, BLOOM Alumnus & College Student

BLOOMER Spotlight: ZakeerI was born in Long Beach, but I grew up in Compton and Watts. Sometimes my mom wouldn’t have money for rent, so we’d leave and stay with my grandma. We were struggling, but I didn’t know it at the time.

In school, I was smart. My teachers always tried to put me in the spelling bee or the mathletes. But I’d always get picked on. Everyone else had new clothes, and we had hand-me-downs. It didn’t matter that I was smart. That’s how I started stealing. I’d see stuff that everyone else had, and I’d go out and take it.

I wound up on probation for three or four months. It was my first offense. Looking back, it was a blessing, because it opened me up to BLOOM. It’s changing me for the better. I started off at Social Justice Learning Institute’s Black Male Youth Academy, and BLOOM is like a family. All the doors are open. They give you advice. They’re mentors.

If you need someone to be there for you, go to BLOOM. Go to Social Justice Learning Institute. Go to Brotherhood Crusade. They’ll help you. You’ll learn more about yourself than you knew before.

Today. I’m a different person. I’m in college, working to transfer to Morehouse, then to medical school to be an anesthesiologist.

There was a point when we lived in Lancaster, and I used to hate walking home from school. Everything was so far. The first time, I thought I’d never make it. I wanted to lie down right there, but instead, I started walking. One foot in front of the other. When I was almost home, I looked back and couldn’t believe I how far I’d gone. That’s how I feel today. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, but here I am.

To learn how you can support BLOOM in transforming the futures of young Black men in Los Angeles County, contact Tammy Johnson at tjohnson [@] calfund [.] org, by phone at (213) 413-4130 ext. 208 or visit

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