Timothy Abdul-Matin is a full-time community activist, life coach, community consultant, and mentor to young men in Flint.

Looking back, I understand what may have influenced some of my thoughts when I was younger. It’s no excuse but just understanding that. Dealing with the death of my grandparents and not being able to get the proper help I needed, not being able to grieve properly—that was traumatic.

Not being able to grieve properly affects a lot of people in our environment. You have these kids these days, they’re seeing their friends murdered. Single-parent homes, drugs—that’s trauma.

If you don't have the proper help, it will influence people to make the wrong decisions or mistakes or whatever it may be, and it becomes overwhelming. I can’t say enough about that.

Trauma, unresolved issues. You have to deal with it, you have to resolve it. You have to have a proper way and a positive avenue to grieve as you are going through that process. No matter what. That’s why I understand, in the urban cities, urban communities—especially in my community where you see a lot of people on drugs or alcohol—it’s because they want to push away. They’re running away from their reality.

At the end of the day, when they’re high, or their drug wears off, [they’re] back to square one. It’s just putting a Band-Aid on a wound. It’s not going to heal it; it’s just going to cover it up.