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

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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.

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.

10 Things We Learned from an Incredible Time at Our Back to School Party this August 25th, 2018

adonis_anderson
More pictures soon. For now, Adonis (left to yours truly) and Anderson (right) at our BACK to School PARTY at El Gran Burrito this past Saturday, August 25th in Los Angeles, CA.

After 36 days of non-stop planning for our first ever BACK to School PARTY at El Gran Burrito, I needed at least a couple of days to rest and relax, to enjoy a bit of silence, and to reflect on just what it is that actually happened this special Summer of 2018. A few things in particular stand out now, listed below for all our folks to see.

1. When you have a dream, it’s important to claim it, value it, and also to be able to defend it when necessary. The fact of the matter is, while I spent the last month in particular running around from one area to the next to keep our “Back to School” Party ‘on track’, I had visualized the event as early as June 26, 2018, when I sent the following note to the team of volunteers who helped us put together our Open Mic Saturday event at the Cahuenga Public Library in April:

As school is out in the neighborhood and the summer has just kicked off, I know there are droves of parents around the library looking for a place where ‘the fam’ can cool off. Thus, I’m interested in putting together a second gathering for the community, probably some time in August. However, first I’m going to do some more walking and ‘surveying’ through the neighborhood to be certain on just what would work best at the moment. At a glance my guess is that any event to do with skating, sports, painting, or other outdoor activities would be key for garnering some interest from our young people, and as with the Open Mic, we’d make it economic and volunteer driven.

Getting this ‘on file’ was a matter of stating my intention with the event for myself personally, as well as for the larger body of my community to consider. From there, the idea could germinate for all of us, and this was a key factor in what would eventually become a push to move “Back to School” forward.

2. Not everyone will understand your vision, and not only is that okay, it’s great. Not long after sending the aforementioned note to the team of volunteers that helped with Open Mic Saturday, I was first met with silence when I sought feedback for its contents, and then, upon persisting about a response, was told that the idea seemed to be too ‘rough’ or ‘unready’ in its form to see through. Then, to make matters more challenging, on trying to vouch further for the essence of the event I was given an official “no” from the administration at Cahuenga, whose approval was necessary for the event to take place there. I found this to be devastating for the gathering’s odds of moving forward, but would not stay down before too long.

3. You have to defend your dreams, sometimes even from your own doubt. In the days after I was met with the official ‘no thanks’ for the event, I found myself reeling. Even if some greater part of me knew that the gathering still had to happen, to think that there was suddenly no location for it defied the logic of the whole thing. I fell into a kind of deep slumber then, mired by feelings of rejection and self-doubt. And yet, I knew I’d have to pick myself up from that point. So I got my mind off the event for a day or so, took some leave from the neighborhood towards other vecindades where I could speak with a different band of folks about what happened, and determined to get back to the drawing board only after this much needed ‘get-away’. Finally, a few days later on Sunday morning I found myself galvanized enough again to get back out to the ole neighborhood to inquire about ‘this event’ again in a few different directionsThen, from out of nowhere, we actually found a location.

4. When you finally get the ‘yes,’ tell the world what you need next. On landing the support of El Gran, I scrambled to  find out what further support I could muster since time was running out for an ample planning period. So I sent out a survey to the community on the afternoon of June 29th, waited to see what responses I could gather, and upon hearing back just enough of what I needed from folks, registered that it was time to span my wings for lift-off. By the morning of June 30th, there were officially 27 days left before August 25th, or the date for which I’d originally proposed the event. That was three days less than there were with Open Mic Saturday, but this time, I knew a few things I didn’t know in the buildup for Open Mic Saturday. That is, just where to go, and where not to go.

5. Any team anywhere is affected by a vision, or lack thereof from its leadership. 27 days to plan the event was cutting it close, but I knew enough from what I’d seen in my ‘visions’ leading up to the ‘green light’ for “Back to School” to reach out to a handful of people. So I searched through my lists, texted and called the contacts I could interest in ‘just a conversation’, and from there, discovered the subsequent pieces to the puzzle through various questions from these contacts in our ‘convos’, as well as through their suggestions and other feedback. Then, once we were able to consolidate our shared visions, it became clear that we had to inform the whole hemisphere what kind of support we’d need. But first, I needed to consolidate one more time.

6. The best investment any ‘leader’ can make with their team is the one of ‘leading’ by example. Even if the contacts who became the allies who would go on to become the partners in the making of the event could agree in sentiment with the vision for the special day in our community, in addition to drawing out or brainstorming the vision together, it was also necessary for us to ‘get out there’ together for the event as time permitted. This meant visiting the site of El Gran together, speaking with Don Pedro and Doña Guadalupe together, meeting with other potential attendants and collaborators of the event together, and more, in order for us to share in the experience of discovering more pieces together. At day’s end, these shared experiences would prove integral in bolstering our abilities to support one another once it became necessary for us to find our respective roles to drive our shared vision through. And so, all of it was like practice for our biggest day of them all as a team.

7. Raising money for a cause is no light stroll through the park, but when you believe in the mission, it’s your mission. In weighing out the different needs for “Back to School,” I realized that it would be something of an exacting request for the base of supporters out there to consider, though not an altogether unreasonable one. But further complicating this request was the fact that there were only fifteen or so days to rally the financial support; there was no guarantee that the team and I could pull it off, yet the unwavering belief in our goals for the event was clear to people “up and down” throughout our networks, and slowly but surely then, like the sunlight in each day, we reached the evenings with just a little more of what we needed than the night prior.

8. Reminders are everything. People need to be reminded of the things they need to do. And we’re people too. We need reminders too. In the rush for the event to make its way through were numerous moments in which even if I thought the goals for “Back to School” were clear and stated for all to see, it was still necessary for me to “go back to the basics,” or touch base with the very reason I asked the team to embark on the effort with me, and to be reminded of that. This wasn’t always easy, but it was 100% worth it each time I could manage to truly listen to the parties outside of myself and respond accordingly to their needs or inquiries. It’s what made me an effective leader as opposed to just a leader in name.

9. Volunteers are life. It’s simple. Following every item the team and I could cross off our lists, and after reaching out to every perceivable ‘end’ in our midst for the event to shine under the sunlight, there were still no guarantees. Where would the people come from? And at what time? Then, how on earth would we get everything we needed to be done in time?

But in our greatest hour of need, our volunteers for “Back to School” arrived like a legion of envoys for the mission. They literally lifted our dreams from the page onto the gates of El Gran, upon the walls of the site, into the hands of the people of the pueblo, and more. They believed too. And thus these volunteers literally completed the team and I on Saturday, August 25th.

Finally, when setup was wrapped up and everyone was in position, as the music fluttered into the airwaves while the clock ticked away, from out of nowhere, como palomitas llegaron…a rescartanos. Otra vez mas. Nuestro Pueblo. Los Angeles.

10. Thank. Everyone. Thank those who said yes, thank those who said no, thank those who never responded, and more than anything, thank everyone who came through. Do. Not. Forget.

Thank. Everyone.

Thank you Los Angeles. Thank you team. Thank you supporters from afar. And thank your people, too. Thank the daylight. Thank the planet earth. Thank the Milky Way galaxy. And thank even the Black Holes for not swallowing these living quarters into their midst yet, too.

And one more note; a bonus note: Our pueblos DO need these days in our community, and so our pueblos WILL have them. As such, this is only the beginning. The future is no longer waiting. We have arrived.

J.T.