I started working at my site, Freedom School, about two weeks ago, and I love it. Freedom School is a literacy program for African American youth. I absolutely love the program and what it represents because it takes African American kids and surrounds them with peers and teachers who look like them ( which is something some of them may never see outside of this school) and encourages them to respect themselves, their ethnicity, and education. As a black woman, I truly appreciate encouraging the next generation to love themselves the way God made them and to encourage them to be different from what society portrays and what society expects.
At freedom school I help with a class of 8 and 9 year old boys, and it’s not easy. This is a class of all boys, I am the only girl, and it is one of the toughest classes in the school, behaviorally. It has been quite a challenge physically, emotionally and spiritually because every day I cry out to God. Why? Why are they so violent? Why don’t they listen or respect me? And why do they constantly put each other down by bullying and stealing from one another? This is hard to be part of because these boys are going to be Americas next black men, and I don’t want them to be the statistic of men who either end up in jail or dead.
On our lasts program day, we talked about the prisons system, and I already knew that black men flood the prisons but a new piece of information for me was that they judge the number of prisons beds needed based on the reading level of black and brown, third and fourth grade boys. Not only is this disgusting because they are planning on my boys and my people in general to fail, but I am hurting because I know some of my boys have low reading levels, and I don’t want them to have a bed in San Quentin. They need a bed in UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Princeton. Every day I go to school, I am chasing kids, chastising them, playing with them, laughing with them, and loving them because I care about them and their future. I have learned at Freedom School that we are a community and if one person fails, we all fail, and I don’t fail.
I feel truly blessed to be working at this site. I consider it the best site. It is definitely the best for me because as I teach these boys to read and love themselves and others. I am also learning about my heritage and how important it is for me to own my ethnicity as an African American woman because although I have grown up and identified as a black American, Africa is part of me and because of Freedom School, I am inspired to explore my African culture after BayUP.
Every day is a challenge but every day I see Jesus whether it is when we go around and tell a student who feels the world hates him that we all love him and give him a reason why, or when a student reads out loud to me, or when I see them having fun learning at different museum. When I see this, my heart smiles. Thank you Jesus.