At the end of last year, I accepted a teaching residency with Street Poets. They primarily work with under-resourced and incarcerated youth to provide them with the tools to heal through poetry. It has just been a few months, but it feels nice to regularly be in a classroom again. I have been working with adults much more in recent years and there is just something about young people that moves me. Perhaps, it is that young people don't front in the same ways adults do. If something is exciting, they are excited.
Four weeks ago, I started a residency in a juvenile detention center (kid jail). It is all boy. All Black and Latino. That is not accidental. My presence nor theirs. I asked to work with boys. My boys. They need to interact with women in other ways than they do with their mom or their lovers. Their lives are complex and they are as young as 14. Hella complex- like trying to navigate poverty, schools in rival gang territory, long commutes to a school out of their neighborhood, violence, gangs, drugs, teen pregnancy, disabilities, drug-addicted parents, unstable homes... you name it they have had to navigate it and then they are now in the system. A system that is not actually trying to help but rather keep them locked up, so more money can be made off of them.
Below is a poem one of my boys asked me to share with my community. He was so proud when I posted it on my Instagram story. It was as if he got to yell it off the highest mountaintop. I will continue to find ways to share their stories. These boys. My boys. I hope you will continue to listen because their stories are as important as any.