Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reflections #3

I'm grateful for this space. Its sort of like a time capsule. It serves as a reminder of who I am becoming, and lessons I've forgotten. After re-reading my reflections series #1 and #2, I realized how much more relevant these realizations have become over a short period of time, and how important it is that I keep these in mind as I make my major transition back home to New York City in July.

Recently, I've been hit with a blessed humbling experience. I came down to NYC from Rochester and met up with a homie I haven't kicked it with in 8 years. Imagine that. This was the cat that turned me on to the Bay Area, and now he's turning me on to myself. During these 8 years I've completed a Bachelors degree, and now I'm finishing up my Masters. The Bay Area had turned me out to some new critical eyes for looking at the world. I learned that I had been living a life of systematic power indifferences. What trips me out though, is that this shouldn't have been news. I guess I was taught to not look at my own life experiences as sources of knowledge, truth. So, I came to understand the value of my perspective through theory, politics, and academia.

Seeing my homie made me realize how much I've become immersed in the language of academia and lost touch with the language of my self. The balanced had been tipped, and I became this thinking potato that seems to have forgotten where I came from. I'm grateful for him caring enough to challenge me on my shit. Grounding me in my own dirt. I came back to the East Coast thinking I had to be accountable to the community I left behind. What I'm realizing now is that I've got to become accountable to myself... first. There's this piece of me I've been unaware of. And its something I need to battle and be conscious of as I'm reorienting myself back into my old stompin grounds. Again, the lesson of humility is worth remembering here. Its time for me to reconnect.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Courage to Write

I've decided to highlight one of my students' assignments on my own blog because of her ability to do what is most difficult for writers to do: to take risks. Once we settle into ourselves and realize that the places from which we must write from are our most vulnerable and painful ones, we've become self actualized writers. Here, a 9th grade student, early in her writing, establishes this inherent ability in her writing.

Amane, a practicing Muslim, focuses on how the social experience of 9/11 and the "war on terror" has affected her personal experiences in day to day life. She begins by establishing her experiences as a young citizen in the U.S.:
I practically lived in the United States my entire life. I stood up and and put my hand over my heart and recited the pledge of [allegiance] every day in elementary school. I watched the [superbowl] and sang the national anthem, every time, just like every one else in the U.S. does....
She goes on to describe how this has changed after 9/11:
After 9/11 occured every thing changed. I would go places and get insulted. "Terrorist, go back to your own country. We don't need more of you here." They would say things like that and even worse sometimes. I didn't understand, this is my country....

Do you have any idea what it's like for me to go for a ride in a car and role my window down. I get middle fingers, I get called names, I get spit at, things get thrown at me, and again I also get shouted at. Like other kids my age, i go to the mall to go for a walk and go shopping. But i wish i could do this with out being stared at, gawked at, laughed at, talked about, threatened, and again "Go back to your country."

What is most compelling about this account is that after having been targeted and dehumanized on numerous accounts, still alive in her is the courage to imagine and hope for a world where difference is not a threat and empathy is the norm:
I believe that away from here, a place for rebels, outcasts, untouchables, and uncomfortables to be free. To become their own society. That way they would all be normal, and they would all keep their pasts in the present to think before they hurt or cause hurt the way people bestowed it on them. We, outcasts, we can all be a family. A real and true 'free country'. An outcast is someone who is ostracized by society. An out cast... is me.
I would like to invite Amane to extend that hope to the people of the very land we stand on. With persistence and a struggle rooted in love, justice will prevail. To read her complete post visit her at