Gang Activity Awareness. In an elementary school. Let that sink in for a minute.
We are required to attend this every year. Why? Because the issue exists. In our elementary school. And middle schools. And let’s not forget our high schools.
We see statistics. We see gang tattoos. We see gang signs. We see music videos with local adults and kids starring front and center. Talking about guns and bitches and police and drugs and money. And my kids are watching all of this.
I left that meeting just like I left the same meeting last year. Kind of devastated. I look at my students every day giving them hugs, encouragement and trying so hard to get them to believe that they can do anything. Some go home and are in an environment where that is encouraged. More do not.
Many don’t believe that they will ever get out of Wilmington or even the housing projects they currently live in. At five or six, they are already members of the cycle of poverty that grips way too many of our children in this country. And they are all of OUR children.
Honestly, I fought back tears through most of the meeting, experiencing a feeling I rarely feel. Hopelessness.
My students have been systematically divided from other, wealthier children in this city. What they know is what they see every day. What they learn is what they are exposed to. Violence in video games like Grand Theft Auto (yes my kindergarteners play this) and movies, guns that are brandished during arguments where they live. Drug manufacturing going on in their homes. And these are just the stories I’ve heard over the past month or so.
There has to be a way to break the cycle. I just don’t know what it is. What I do know is that if we don’t do it and do it soon, we are going to continue to throw away people in this society who are deserving of so much more. I don’t feel like I can live with that.
Education, job training, showing people there’s another way all seem like plausible ways to do this. Maybe there’s something we could host at our school to help people. Use the resources available and turn over stones for more.
Most of all, restore hope to people who need and deserve it. Because without hope, it’s way too easy to give up. And we can’t let that happen.
I have no idea where this fits in with my job or with Happy Fix. I guess it’s something I’m going to be thinking about over the course of the next few weeks, months and probably years. What I do know is that while I have the luxury of walking away from all of this at the end of every day. My kids don’t. And they deserve better. #HappyFix #SelfCare.