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My Year of Service

I haven’t had the balls to write lately, I’ve been killing the sports journalism work like always, but the real raw personal stuff is what I have been trying to avoid.  Writing for The Sports Quotient has been going splendidly, I’m likely on the verge of press passes and I’ve made so many strong connections & friendships.  I’m grateful for that opportunity and I really want to take it far.

I recently finished my first year of civil service with City Year.  Working with my students at Wilson was an unbelievable experience and I miss them a million already.  I learned a lot about the often marginalized urban youth, they are just amazing children.  There are sections in Philadelphia that are way worse than where my students are from, yet I’ve witnessed my students overcome difficult family and economical hardships with a smile on their face.

I don’t think I would have it in me to rise above losing a parent, or that both of my parents were sent to jail.  My students as wild as they are, are still children.  It was so crazy to see them forge their own personalities and agendas.  My “starfish”, she was a hell raising sassy Puerto Ricana at the beginning of the year.  I definitely put an emphasis on discussing with her how her behavior was unnecessary.  However, I did not want to crush that toughness in her that confidence to stand up for herself.  I admire how she put down the bigger/older boys that tried to mess with her daily.

At the beginning of the 4th quarter I asked what she wanted to see on her last report card, she said all A’s and B’s.  I was a bit hesitant when I first heard her response, especially considering how much effort and commitment can go out the window during the 4th quarter of school.  Nevertheless, she fucking killed it and made it to the honor roll that last quarter.  When she showed me her report card I could not stop smiling for hours, I almost wanted to cry I was so proud.  It wasn’t always easy working with her, especially when I had to snitch on her at one point during the year, however she taught me so much about the resolve of young children.  I can only hope she continues this fight for her education for the rest of her life.

My heart broke into a million pieces when I heard about what happened in McKinney Texas.  I was literally sick the way this officer man handled that girl.  I kept thinking that poor girl was no older than my students, oh thank the Lord no one ever did anything remotely similar to my female students.  He grabs her by the neck and shoves her face into the ground, a big man who felt mighty confident to push around a helpless innocent young lady.  It makes my blood boil just thinking about it.  It was a clear example of how not being white works against you in this country.

Then of course there was the tragic, implicitly racist attack on the church in Charleston, SC.  Even when minorities are congregating in peace and worshiping the good lord, they are punished by the dangerous racist white supremacy that lingers across our country.  When politicians accept money from the Council of Conservative Citizens, the political origin of that shooters hate and discrimination, its no wonder being a minority is a virtually a crime in this country.

Then that motherfucker Donald Trump runs his mouth.  His ignorant ranting bullshit has absolutely no merit and was a direct spit in my face.  His daftness is unbelievable yet not surprising, he is the poster boy for the deeply rooted ignorant point of views that have existed since slaves were brought to this country.  From our President to a regular citizen in Texas, racism is hurting our nation.

There is never enough money to fund inner city schools, but there is enough money to build more jails, more money to bail out banks that fuck over the middle class, and enough money to bomb more “terrorist” and to make our problems in the Middle East further more complicated.

Several of my students are Muslim and are visiting their families homeland.  I worry so much that someday some ignorant asshole is going to harass and discriminate them for being Muslim, yet white Americans have killed more Americans this year than ISIS.

This year with City Year has opened my eyes to several things, and my main take away is: that inner-city kids are powerful.  Everyday they rise above the tide of inequality, they work harder to fight the lack of resources available to them.  Unfortunately not all of them will beat the tide, and that makes me cry.  Yet, I pray my influence this year was enough to push/motivate a few of them over the obstacles this year and beyond.

I wasn’t the only role model at Wilson or in Philadelphia. My fellow Philly City Year Corps Members, we are the start of the changing of the tide.  In order to avoid tragedies like in McKinney or in Charleston we have to coach/tutor/mentor our urban youth to become the leaders of tomorrow. So that they can change the systematic subtleties where being a minority makes you a target of violence or discrimination.


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This entry was posted on June 24, 2015 by .
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