Wednesday, August 22, 2007

why there is no quitting

My kids. How can I really properly describe my kids? They're terrors, many of them. But they're kids. Desperate for attention or a break from their home life or just someone to let them know who's boss or some combination of the three. In groups they are wild things straining against the gates that lock them in during the day and out during the night. Alone, they are little people at a fork in the road who aren't paying much attention to which way they go. Most of them don't even know what's good for them or that they way they are living is not the be all and end all of existence. Most of them don't even know the kind of things that are out there in the world beyond New Orleans, beyond their street corners, beyond their school or their homes. That's my job. I'm just now starting to get a taste of just how big that job can get.

This girl - I'll call her BlackBird. Today I got my first tiny look into the world of one of my kids outside of school. She's an angry kid. Attitude with me and with most of the kids in school. She nearly got into a fight today with another girl. But if I had her home life I'd be a fucked up angry kid too. She needs serious help. The seriously frustrating part, however, is just how cruel the other kids can be when they don't know why someone is the way they are and no one can let them in on the secret but the person they are taunting and aiming to destroy.

And the racism. I had one of my boys, pissed at me because I'd called him out, mutter something angrily at me that ended with 'racist'. It's not a word I throw around lightly and in the environment I work in it is worse, in my mind, than if he'd just thrown a bunch of curse words at me. I told him that if he was going to start using words like that he'd better be prepared to say it to my face. I was seriously unamused. But then the more I've started to listen to them, the more I realize that they throw race at each other. Mixed kids get it thrown in their faces and it kills me a little every time. I couldn't tell you one from the other, honestly. As far as I've seen there is one white child in the whole school. I can only imagine what she must deal with. But this is what they've been raised with - that it's okay to hate people just because one of their parents isn't black. That's a hard sort of thing to unlearn. Several of the older boys completely ignore me, because I'm a woman or because I'm white or some combination of both. They wanna take out their anger on me, that's fine. I can deal with that. But to see them take it out on each other breaks my heart.

These kids have so much more potential than they realize and they are content to waste it. Right now, that's the biggest reason for me to not give up.

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