J.T. Endorses LAUSD’s Request for Collaboration with Verizon to Support Students in Case of School Closures

“March 9, 2020

Hans Vestberg
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Verizon Communications
1095 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036

Dear Mr. Vestberg:

Los Angeles Unified serves the needs of almost 700,000 students who live in communities spread across 700 square miles. About 80% of students are from families living in poverty. 73% of students are Latino and 8% are African American. We serve students and families with high needs.

As we plan for a potential occurrence of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in our schools, we are taking steps to ensure students can continue to learn from home in the event of extended school closures. At the core of this will be online instruction using a digital device connected to the internet. Unfortunately, about 25% of our students — 125,000 children — have neither a device on which to learn nor the ability to connect to the internet outside of school.

We would like to discuss with Verizon a plan to support our students by providing internet access to those who may not otherwise have access to learning.

We hope Verizon will consider working with us on this. I will call your office to follow up.

Austin Beutner”

J.T.

J.T. with the new Los Cuentos golf hat

Schoool (For the students of Los Angeles)

A little remix of 21 Savage’s billboard-topping ‘a lot’ by yours truly for the students of Los Angeles. Listen to the instrumental while using these substitute lyrics:

“How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? 

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot) 

Every day that I exist, I’ma side with the kids 
I’d rather be paid their thoughts than collect like Trix 
Told my students take my cred if my speech starts to cringe 
But I’m J.T. forev ain’t no way I’ma fidge(t)”

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round.

Huge potential outcomes if you state a couple facts 
Your dream so bold you could put it in your cap 
Fam vs the world, me and moms, it was us 
Then school sent me to da station and they really cuffed me up 

My father broke wives so he failed to be my teach 
My brothers popped ice and it fell em to the streets 
I been through the court but it turned me to J.T. 
Now the other side is sunny, I get paid these thoughts on sheets 

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot) 

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round. (x2)

How many sent to the deans’? 
For throwin ‘ they shots like vaccines 
I can see behind the phones and filters 
Egos ain’t big as they seem

Intersects like a string
Everybody got they thing 
Some students make dean’s list, other students make lean
I’m gon’ reflect on the scene
I’m not gon’ choke, I’ma free ‘em 

I don’t wan hear your concerns 
This ain’t no parent-square but I’ma care 
When they dragging kids down for expressin’ they heritage 
U know kids can learn from rap battlin’ and culture 

I guess you were hoping the rules would just tame they true selves
But these bars flowin ‘ college of self

OK, I got it, we’ll show up on everyone’s algorithm 
You know what bro Malcolm would preach 

Bettin ‘ a thousan

It’s got to the point that these schools ain’t even always the safest to be 
Fuck it cause that’s where this Los Cuentos fashion just hit me
It led me to save kids a spot, on a new remix to drop 
Shout out to “a lot, ” I polish the hook and I jot 

Pray for our schools cause they robbed like Iraq 
I picture the slaves on the fields pickin ‘ cot 
Respecc how they made it past all em cops 
Risking no less than they death if they caught 

I pray for the students who think they should cut 
Just want you to know your lives matter, my kiddos 
If I never met you, still know that you special 
And that the world needs you, don’t doubt it, for reala 

All the real teachers, stay solid, amigos 
I’m only tellin ‘ it just how I felt it 

I saw this parent look lost and abandoned  
When told that her kid goin ‘nowhere by standin’ out,’ I got amends 

It’s said that ur grades all about ur success, jot this dissent 
Flow on a mission reflectin’ how goals at our schools got be bigger 
Before we relent, reala

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot)

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round.

J.T.

Don’t Be One Who You Are Not (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Identity)

Don’t be one who you are not,
Be one who you are.

Wearing a mask wears you out,
Faking fatigues.

The most exhausting activity is
When you pretend to be
What you know you aren’t.

Everybody has something special inside,
They just don’t always show it.

Search deep inside,
And in your heart
You’ll know it.

LB

Doubt is My Father’s Knee (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)

Who doubts me,
I doubt me, my friends doubt me,
Doubt just finds me.

I think of my father’s fall
Even after puncturing his knee
He still wanted to drive us home,
He didn’t want to quit on us,
He had no doubt about it.

Rest in peace Ermias.

Nipsey believed in everyone,
His passing has led other leaders to step up.
His hopes have led others to care for our community,
Other influencers now continue his work.

I can also help others face doubt.
I can inspire my family.

Like my dad holding up an open knee,
Showing all of us how to stand tall
No matter what holds us down.

TTV.Vnunez323

I Knew (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)

Doubt, my dim companion.

We can hurt from many things,
But what’s most painful is
When our loved ones doubt
How much they’re truly loved.

If you’re in doubt
Then follow your heart,
If you’re in doubt
Then follow your instincts.

Keep your spirit salient through the motions.

One of the worst feelings is
To doubt something,
To doubt yourself.

Doubt keeps our minds captive
And fearful of the things which
Make up our past.

Fearful of the seconds that make up the present,
Fearful of the hours that make up tomorrow.

But when you doubt,
Know that I knew how much
You loved me.

When life was sweet,
And when life was dark,

When you told me,
And when you didn’t.

When it was easy and when it was hard. I knew.

I knew you didn’t
Doubt me.

JR-D

This poem is dedicated to my aunt, uncle, parents and teachers.

BEE STING (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)

Doubt is like a bee sting
Piercing through my flesh
Injecting its venom in my mind
Struggling, twisting trying to break me
Leaving me with thoughts of “I can’t.”
I doubt me.

My teachers doubt me
But I grab the stinger and pull it out
Using “I can’t” as my number one power source

I am proving a point
Doubt means to
Feel uncertain
Doubt has been everywhere I’ve seen
The Sting
Feeding into me,

But I break past it.

I don’t doubt me.
You might doubt me, but I don’t.
My teachers might doubt me, but I don’t.
Even my family might doubt me,

BUT I
DO NOT
DOUBT ME.

Rest in peace, Notorious B.I.G.

SR ~セルジオ・ルバルカバ

Who Doubts Me (For the Students of Los Angeles)


Who doubts me
You doubt me
I doubt me
We doubt me
Why

Why do we doubt so much
When doubters turned dreamers to destine the world
Into greatness like ours.

Waving like the rings of the voices you hear now
Driven by visions from eyes
Like the ones you see now.

See us, you say?
You see only a fraction of–
YOU SEE US?!

Doubt THAT!

Rest in peace, Nipsey Hussle.

J.T.

We Will Not be Erased: How Open Mics in Our Community Uplift Our Cultural History

Our second annual Open Mic was a second-annual success, featuring 10 different poets, speakers and other members of the community who spoke in front of up to 25 guests throughout the evening. Our guest list was diverse, with attendants as young as 11 years old and as mature as 60.

In my own experience, after more than 25 years of living in this parcel of Los Angeles, I never knew of an open “forum” in the community like those created by the three different Open Mics held in the area over the last calendar year; first at Cahuenga Public Library last April, then at El Gran Burrito in August 2018, and now, for the second year in a row, once again at Cahuenga Public Library.

I view each of these events, both individually and collectively, as achievements for a demographic in East Hollywood increasingly facing displacement from L.A.’s collective memory vis-a-vis gentrification, or the process known for “cleaning up” [ethnic] spaces for whiter, wealthier living.

In her photographic exhibit at the Armory for the Arts, Los Angeles based artist Sandra de La Loza describes her experience living in a city that constantly denies people such as herself, her family–and their neighborhoods–of space for their history.

For the dispossessed whose stories are not memorialized or recorded, memory becomes a vital space in resisting erasure, silence and invisibility.

With this in mind, by “holding space” for others such as the youth, families, elders and others who’ve attended our Open Mic events this past year to share their memories with the local community, and by attempting to normalize such spaces and activities on a consistent basis, my peers and I are taking a stand for a collective cultural history; for a present and future in the same vein of resistance against the erasure described by de La Loza.

In a commentary on de la Loza’s artwork as a “Field Guide” for others, UCLA Digitial Media Professor Chon A. Noriega recognizes de la Loza’s installation and photographing of thought-provoking, albeit temporary ‘invisible monuments’ in Los Angeles as the work of a “guerilla historian”:

The work requires photo documentation, gallery exhibition, and now, publication in order to have a continuous impact, not as a vicarious experience of another time and place, but as a model for civic engagement through archival research. Indeed, the ongoing goal of Operation Invisible Monument is to serve as an example of how anyone can become a “guerrilla historian.” In this regard [her artwork] is as much about promulgating a method or process for engaging social space as it is about generating and recovering historical knowledge.

In other words, holding space for the memories of ethnic communities is not just an act of preservation, but also ‘a model’ to show others how they can find a way to hold such spaces on their own terms as well. Here, I think of the Filipino woman from last year’s first-ever Open Mic at Cahuenga who had “lived here for over 35 years” before taking up the microphone to share her story. And I think of Alfredo, the 10 year old boy who arrived to the Back to School Party at El Gran Burrito in August initially rolling his eyes at the workshops being offered, only to find through the course of the event that he was exactly the kind of youth our team had been looking for. Alfredo needed a space that recognized and uplifted his giftedness, and once he could see that our Party was just that, he transformed into one of our foremost little helpers, announcing the raffle and handing out prizes to the community as one of our team.

Lastly, I think of William Taylor III, who made his way to last Thursday’s Open Mic with stories about his time along Downtown Los Angeles’s Skid Row area. Taylor III graced the microphone with an ode to the recently passed Nipsey Hussle, statements of resistance to Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, and more letters of love for the community. These are just a few of the people who’ve been moved by our work, and there will be more.

In this respect, I’m excited about recognizing our achievements for organizing events in East Hollywood as such, and hopeful to see what else my team and I will accomplish with more Open Mics, Back to School Parties, and other monuments for uplifting our communities. Because yes, of course there will be more soon. We’ve just gotten started!

J.T.

A 7th Grade Student’s Poem for Black Lives in Los Angeles

Black Potential

by Te’Aunee Turner

We are BLACK, We are BROWN and we are even more than what they make us seem.

They make us seem weak, worthless, and they use us as scapegoats.
But the fact is
We are
Preachers,
Teachers,
Singers,
Fighters, and
Leaders.

Don’t you try to put US down because they already tried,

They insulted us like HARRIET TUBMAN
They abused us like EMMETT TILL
They disenfranchised us like MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
THEY EVEN TRIED TO MAKE US SLAVES,
BUT WE BROKE THEM DAMN CHAINS.

WE are BLACK
I am BLACK
I AM BLACK
I am BRAVE, COURAGEOUS, and DETERMINED
And let it be known,
I ain’t no BURDEN.

So do not UNDERESTIMATE our potential,
MY POTENTIAL
My BLACK POTENTIAL.

Because Harriet Tubman helped free her people from chains,
So Rosa could sit,
So Martin could march,
And finally, so Obama could lead.

I can be the next Michelle
I can be the next Harriet
I can be the next Maya Angelou,
This is because of African-American leaders who fought for our Rights.

Now, I fight for my Rights.

About the author: Te’Aunee Turner is a 7th grade student in Los Angeles. In Te’Aunee’s own words, she hopes her poem shows others “[that] being equal is not treating someone with an advantage because they’re in a higher class, or taking advantage of others because they don’t have money. This is how our great African American leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nipsey Hussle got killed. The whole point of this is for people to see others for who they really are so we can treat each other more equally.”

Te’Aunee’s sister, Dasia, and Language Arts teacher, Ms. Morales, also provided support for this poem.

J.T.