ReScattered

A space to reflect on my readings and musings, scattered and rescattered

12.11.2008

It's been a while...



This blogging thing is torture sometimes, I know. Some of my students moaned when I told them that I was requiring 12 blogs for the 3 marking period of the semester--the one we just started. I kicked that off by having them do one of their blogs in class. We currently working on annotated bibliographies on social issues that interest us. I'm writing and researching on the juvenile justice system in NYC, a topic I passionately care about. I care about this topic because I spent about a year going out to Rikers Island to work on a special writing and publication project surrounding the life stories of incarcerated youth in a maximum security facility there. I was always struck by the realness of these young men who were taking GED classes while in jail; their rough, gentleness; their motivations, tenacity and skeptical, tempered hope. Almost every time I left, I'd felt like listened to the stories of a man who'd never gotten the chance to be a boy. Always reminds me of that word "juvenile" that gets so glossed over when we're talking about the "juvenile justice system".

I had the pleasure on Tuesday night of attending a staged reading by some young people from CASES, an alternative to incarceration program here in NYC. Several of my high school students who have been investigating injustices in the justice system agreed to see the performance with me. It WAS awesome. Reminds me so much of Langston Hughes' "Dreams Deferred," which I feel compelled to post here. I can't sum up my feelings about unjust incarceration practices any other way.

Dreams Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes


Despite the hard realities that the performance brought out--the truth of locked up lives whose deferred dreams are festering--there was also a sense of hope in the play and even its existence. Tuesday I saw young men and women advocating for each other, starting a conversation, a dialogue about how things could be. I wish I could some up my thoughts with a certain wisdom, but all I can say is that there is power in talking, imagining, and re-imagining how to make more dreams into reality. It's a beginning...

2 Comments:

At 11:56 PM, Blogger Extra Un-Ordinary said...

is it good to have tencaity ?
ms. arkin says i have that.

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger Extra Un-Ordinary said...

tenacity*

 

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