The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is a heartbreaking story about a young man who had everything going for him but could not escape the fate of far too many black men.
It's actually been a few years since I read The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, but this book is one of those stories that sticks with you, that you can't forget no matter how much time and space exists between you and the physical book. The book was written by Jay Robb, Robert Peace's roommate at Yale. Robb wrote the book because he had the same question I did: how does a young man who went from the hood to Yale still end up getting murdered over drugs?
Robert Peace grew up in a rough part of Newark, New Jersey to an imprisoned father and a mother who worked several jobs to send him to the best schools she could. It became immediately clear that Robert was a gifted kid and with the help of sponsors, he was able to attend the best private schools in New Jersey. He eventually ended up at Yale, where he studied cancer research and earned degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. It seemed like Robert's life was right out of your favorite feel-good movie: a kid from the mean streets of New Jersey goes to Yale and now his life is fixed and perfect. Except that's not what happened. Because this is real life. And no matter how far you physically take a man away from his past, it's harder to get his head and heart to follow.
Robert Peace's life is tragic, not so much because he died, but because he was a man with all the potential in the world but had no idea what to do with it. It's tragic because without guidance and direction, all the degrees in the world can't guarantee you a better life. It's tragic because Robert was just one of millions of black men who grow up not believing in themselves.
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