While the idea of bootstrapping and pulling yourself up out of a bad situation is the social ideal, the sad reality is that systems and cycles of oppression and abuse exist, and many people’s lots in life are just out of their control. It’s so hard to escape these cycles and many times, while people are just trying to make enough money to eat and survive, their goals have to fly out the window.
And so the cycle continues. One such cycle is that of growing up in the system. Children who are placed in the system and who grow up to have kids of their own often heartbreakingly lose those children to the very same system they had to escape, and that can repeat for generations. One man named Marcio Donaldson knows all about that. His mother fought tooth and nail to keep her children, Marcio and his sister, out of the system, but ultimately, CPS showed up one day and took them away.
The trials they faced as children of the system changed both of their lives forever. Sadly, Marcio’s sister developed a drug addiction in adulthood. During that time, she had a child. She was unable to care for him, and that’s when police and social workers showed up on Marcio’s door and told him that he had a decision to make: either he allowed baby Rashaad to go into the system, or he decided to be a father right then and there at the age of 28.
So he manned up. He took that baby out of their hands and decided in that moment that Rashaad would not have the life he had. He would not go into the system. Rashaad would live as close to a normal life as Marcio could give him and he vowed that day to be the best dad he possibly could.
Growing up, Marcio turned to singing to get him through. Many people who endure hardship and trauma find refuge in art, and Marcio’s voice and his dream of singing professionally one day got him through some of the lowest points of his life. Now that the timing was right, he decided to go for his dreams. He auditioned for American Idol, and because it’s him and Rashaad against the world, he brought his beloved boy along with him.
Rashaad took a seat on judge Luke Bryan’s lap while Marcio sang a heartfelt rendition of “Jealous” by Labyrinth. The judges were floored by his emotional delivery and his incredible story of rising above the cycles that defined his entire family’s lives.
Marcio is an exception to the rule and an exceptional talent. Check out the video below to learn more about his story and listen to his audition. You’ll tear up when you see how much he loves his son.