A young African-American man battles poverty in order to fulfill his dreams of becoming a photographer. Inspired by his hard-working mom and her live-in companion Cee, Elijah refuses to hang out with troublemakers. But when Cee is arrested, Elijah begins to question whether hard work means anything when you come from the wrong side of the tracks. An innocent childhood prank causes Elijah's first arrest. When his mother suffers a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized, Elijah is forced to live in a shelter. After a fight with a bully results in the death of the thug, Elijah lands in prison, where he learns to draw to express himself and where he comes face to face with his past, present and what he wants his future to be.