Sunday, July 05, 2009

And The Students Become The Teacher

It's been a tough week or so. I didn't get nearly enough sleep for one thing. And there's been rather a lot of drama related to the re-opened school de-segregation case as folks on our side have been head-butting senselessly. I just love when that happens. Not.

At least I finally finished my statement for the court on the effects of internalized oppression on children of color "educated" in the segregated school system in this parish. Then, I spent all day Tuesday watching the melodrama that is the court itself. On Wednesday, I started teaching a new course. And after class, while discussing Robert King's book on his life as one of the Angola 3 with a young man I had loaned it to, another young Black man I've been working with over the past eighteen months dropped by to invite me to a spoken word event he was performing in that night.

Now, understand that this man was not doing spoken word when we met. And he has struggled with his unfolding. But two months ago, he found his voice and he wanted to show me. So I went. And not only did he bring the house down, but he did it reflecting my teaching back to me. He took our conversations and turned them into an war cry about what Black people in the United States are up against today. He covered poverty and education and parenting and prison. (My favorite line was "Prison is Fort Knox and Black men are the gold...")

By the time he was finished, I was undone. And then the M.C. took the mic and told the beautiful young African-American audience that he wanted them all to give me props for what I had done to develop my student's mind so he could bring his poetry to the world.

And there I sat -- old, White, exhausted and grinning -- grateful to have the opportunity to be of service, grateful to be changing the world by feeding its children, grateful to be embraced and understood and appreciated for what is utter joy to me.

When he came into my office Thursday to give me the back story -- he's known as Giraffe on the spoken word circuit and if you pay attention, I suspect you'll come across him at some point sooner than later -- he turned me onto Sunni Patterson, another fine young African-American spoken word poet from New Orleans. So even though I don't have time or energy right this minute to make up for my lack of blogging lately, I'm posting this video as an offer of apology.


NOTE: The graphic featured at the top of this post was skanked from the blog of another former student of mine, Omar, who left to write for and be the lead singer for Molotov Compromise. Omar has a new solo cd out, too, which you can check out (and buy) on his blog and his MySpace site.


Sorrow said...

I don't have the words..
But I do rejoice that for you, when the hard times came the teacher was in the room...
and it was you

Changeseeker said...

I'm not sure what to call It, Sorrow, but It's WAY bigger than me. I'm just delighted to be part of the process. :^)

Sorrow said...

hey, was sent this from a friend. and the end of it, where they talk about kids in prison..
not familiar with ALEC... any thoughts?

Changeseeker said...

What a GREAT little presentation on private prisons, Sorrow!! I sent this to everybody in my department and will be using it in my social problems course next week. Thanks MUCH. :^) (I hadn't heard of ALEC either. Pretty creepy.)