I was going to use this title at a theme for a poem but i am realizing that there are so many things i want to unpack that a poem is not yet the best vehicle.
How do i be the voice of change in a system that is blocked by status and quo. Each time i look into a new book or documentary or podcast i am at first fired up by the ability to educate myself and be inspired. Halfway through i get overwhelmed by not only the level of evil that people inflict on one another but the amount of resistance to the activist who are the voice of change.
I spent the first part of my revolutionary youth working with minorities and at risk kids. This allowed me a certain level of clout and credibility in the public when i shouted my anger. Now that I have spent just as long working with special needs and handicapped individuals in the suburbs and affluent communities I have not been received quite as well. In fact i went from being a spark for change to a problem to be muzzled all in the change of location.
I have always considered myself a adventure anthropologist traveling from place to place examining the differences in culture; however I thought the fundamental causes within communities were basically the same. People in La hurt just like they do in new haven I thought when i carried my mission work back to my roots on the east. It was not until i came up for air after a mid life crisis and being worn out from trying to constantly change the system, that i see a grave disparity between the upper class and the lower class.
The divide goes deeper than just the color of these kids skin and they resources in their schools. We are dealing with alternate universes in which the bubble is so closed that one would never know unless they commit to being a fly on the wall forever. I have poured through documentaries and news casts to find some reference to the variety of planets that exist in America but i always find it a bit flat. We are so compartmentalized in this world and i spent 45 years living my life that i never really took stock.
This moment in time is as significant as civil rights and the revolutionary war yet people walk around in a disillusionment of who is creating meaningful unity and those who pull the wool. Most of us are in a daze and many of us have not stopped to see the gravity of their own participation in this fragmented states of land division.
In my 20’s and 30’s i believed that all could be solved by motivated people and the right funding. That was definitely true of Voices unHeard and other non profit programs that us do gooders fought to be the change. When i worked for more affluent non profits, the places that catered less to kids from broken homes and more kids being raised by nannies. Money is certainly not the problem and funding has very little to do with our complaints. Of course as service workers our pay is presented to us as “we should want to do it for free”, that translates to the inner city and the golden cities but the institutions themselves operate very differently.
The affluent communities take for granted the level of dysfunction and despair among the youth because the packaging looks more glamourous. We don’t have metal detectors at the door or police officers monitoring the bus loop, but we have regular mass shooting drills and “suspicious” student tattle tails. The level of fear and defensiveness in the suburban school system has made me more terrified than i ever felt living in the real ghetto in Crenshaw. The fancy boots and trendy teachers aids makes it all look hunky doory to the parents dropping their little ones off at before school care. The new chrome books and the staff badges and locked doors during gym class certainly give an illusion of a safe space but upon closer look the kids are barely hanging on. The pressure has doubled in the 20ish years that I have been a mentor.
I call myself a mentor because i am realistic to the fact that the children teach me just as much as i teach them. I am of course and educator but without the board certified masters degree in paying dues to the NEA makes my peers deny me that title. I am ok with that since at heart i am an artist and Teacher is my archetype. Most teachers (probably not most but a whole lot) are something else at heart and Martyrs by archetype. The focus is more on showing off the fancy format learned from the Student Teacher who is giving the main teacher a break and giving a “fresh perspective” on what was tried and true and blends well with the mascot. Continuing education competition to be a more organized professional and less disturbances from the class clowns.
How can i be the voice of change when the conversation in the teachers room swings from letting off steam to who should be medicated. Unfortunately when a teacher recommends medication parents usually jump. Anything to keep the momentum towards college and supports working families. Quality time is a luxury for when you retire.
How do be the voice of change in this new world of the burst bubble and the provoker to burst the bubbles made of steal?………