Monday, March 23, 2009

When Did OK Corral Come to Main Street?

One of the best parts of my life is the tutoring I do with students in our city. The first question I ask as I escort my 5th graders from their homeroom is this: "Tell me what you did this past weekend?"

One of my students recently told me she attended the funeral of her 19-year old cousin. He had been shot during a drive-by attack. I tried to listen, catch the story, as the student and I walked down the hall.

When we found a place to study, I continued to listen. A girlfriend. Who hadn't been faithful. The cousin had shoved the girl around. Then, the girl's new boyfriend and his buddies drove by, shouted the young man's name, and when he turned they shot him.

So while we did division, we talked.

About how we have this generation of young men who are shooting one another. Destroying one another. I told her it had to stop...this was no way to live. I told her, "I'm so sorry."

We talked. I told her everything about the situation was wrong. A man never hits a woman...ever. A girl who is loving one man shouldn't be loving other men. Guns are not to be used arguments. "None of this is right," I said. "None of this is right."

She told me she thought some white people were racist. I said, "Yes, many of us are. And so are too many black people. We all have some of that junk in us. We need to start being more honest with one another...take care of one another...figure out how to take care of one another."

How do you do division when you are talking about the shooting of a 19-year old young man? How do you think about math when you see a generation destroying one another?

How do you continue getting the classwork done when you feel this fear rising up from your gut? You see this bright, sharp, young woman in front of you and you think about the rip tides of alcohol, drugs, and violence that will be surging around her as she heads off to middle school and senior high school.

Is there some safe place where we can put these children to keep them safe? All across our nation we have these bright-eyed, sharp, elementary school. There are these dangerous tides ahead. How will we keep the children safe? I'd like to lift them all above this, the way I lift my granddaughter over obstacles at the playground, and set them down on the safe side of 18 or 19 or 20.

When did the OK Corral come to main street?

1 comment:

revcat said...

I see this also at Roosevelt where I mentor 2 first graders. I hear of a cousin in jail. I hear of no dads around just single women with or without transient boyfriends. I hear of fights, I hear of these kids wondering what will happen to them. They move a lot. They wonder about basic safety things that a 6 year old should not have to worry about. I hear the underlying questions of "does any one care about me?" "Am I loved?" I hear in unspoken words, "Are you going to show up week after week for me or will you leave like the other adults have before?" Their attitudes and actions are testing our faithfulness and our commitment. How do we teach counting and letters and shapes and colors when they wonder where the next meal will come from? I keep showing up and I know you keep showing up too and we display another way of being. Thanks.