last night i watched a movie called C.RA.Z.Y. about a family blessed with 5 children- all boys. One of the boys was “special” (as described by the witch in the movie)…the story revolved around him and his fathers struggle to accept his gay son. it was a beautiful story. i recommend it. i also recently i watched another movie called Tom Boy, about a girl who struggles with what it means to be a girl at age 12ish. she pretends she is a boy and loves it so much until she is caught by her mom. another really touching and beautiful story. these movies make me reflect on what kind of mother i want to be and how will i raise children who love themselves no matter what or who they are. more on this point soon.
i want to share so much right now. i have been working at the continuation high school for almost a month now and i am learning a ton. mostly i come home with too many questions. things like, “what do i do when a youth doesn’t see that they have a drug abuse issue and even if they see it, doesn’t want to do anything about it, because its better than being sober?” and “why are so many young people underemployed and how can we get more jobs for them?”
as classes ended yesterday after a week of Street University where students learned about all kinds of oppressions, from gender and sex to economic and racial, I watched all the students leave the campus (a giant abandoned warehouse in Inglewood now covered in beautiful art and color), i noticed who goes home with who, what direction they go towards, etc. as they cross the street i yell to them, “see you monday, 9am!” i want them to know that i really do want to see them Monday at 9am. i want them to know that their school is staffed with people who REALLY want them to be safe, stay alive, and show up on Monday to learn something.
i look forward to my weekends these days. i rest and catch up on time with family and friends. my weekdays are packed with life at work, with worry, and problem solving meetings, with sweet exchanges with the students, and intense conversations about their lived realities. too many of them walk around life thinking, believing, that death at any moment is “okay” and an acceptable way of living life.
what i am realizing about the students at our school is that they are a hodgepodge of traviesos, the “odd” students, the ones that didn’t “fit” anywhere else, youth who have been to 15+ schools, the “weirdos”, “troublemakers”, the ones that no one knew how to teach, care for, or love. oh, and they are all some sort of ARTIST, whether they rhyme, draw, play music, sing, dance, graffiti, tag, act…it’s amazing!
at our school i notice the most funny relationships are formed between people you would never think would be friends. the rocker kid with the gangster, the skater girl with the nerd…for the most part everyone gets along, and no hood is above another. its the most neutral place they probably ever get to walk in, live in. i can’t say its a perfect homeplace but it is so much better than so many other places, and at Free L.A. (the name of the high school), they know that we care, that we want to do anything but push them out of school, and that we practice new (to them) things like, Transformative and Restorative Justice…where we talk in circle after a conflict (or to avoid one) till we get to a healed place, everyone having an equal voice and everyone being held accountable and supported.
new practices they are not used to. most of us are not. we often begin these conversations by talking about the differences between family, street or court justice vs. transformative justice. how things aren’t so black and white, with victims and perpetrators at each end. i get to facilitate these conversations as part of my job. how blessed i feel that this is where my journey has brought me.
i was leaving work yesterday and as i am hugging my co-worker goodbye, i looked out the window and notice a beautiful spiderweb and a pretty big sized spider. she (the spider) was working so hard on her web. walking back and forth from tree branch to tree branch. the web reflecting colors with the suns light. i shared with my coworker (who is also my friend, comrade, sister) that when spiders show up in our lives it is to remind us that we too are dream weavers. i see Free L.A. as a beautiful homeplace being webbed together by all the paid and un-paid workers, the students, and the community that supports us. the students and staff alike, weaving dreams bigger than we imagined possible, where learning, care, and safety are the core values of the web. a place where community organizers are graduating, ready to either step into the workforce or college…whatever their choice may be, the important thing is that they are conscious, aware, and organizing for a better world, community, and home for their families, friends, and communities. that is the web we are weaving.