Community Justice Network for Youth Conference in Washington D.C. 2010
From The Beat: Last month, right before the holidays, The Beat Within was invited to conduct a workshop at the CJNY conference in Washington, DC (for more information on CJNY and the conference please look at the editorial note on the first page). We co-facilitated this “Bridging Gaps between the Community and the Incarcerated through Writing” workshop with an organization called Voices Unbroken, which is located in the Bronx, NY. We had an hour and a half to explain our organizations, give updates on what we’ve been doing the past year and where we see ourselves this year and to conduct a workshop with our participants. We had about fifteen young people in our workshop and they were from all over the country. Luckily, we were able to work with such an incredible group because we ended up creating a collective piece of writing using a template called “Declarations” created by Voices Unbroken and it worked wonderfully. In fact, it worked so well that we were able to have the young people perform it at a dinner that everyone at the conference attended. We sat each young person down at a different table and asked the host of the dinner, Tshaka Barrows if we could cut him off during his speech to do our performance. He agreed, so as he was talking the first young person stood up and read his line (this collective writing piece is included on this page and is the one written by “The Whole Group”). He then sat down and the next young person stood up and read their lines. This went on until the end of the piece where all the young people, scattered throughout the room, all stood up and powerfully stated, “…And this is our declaration.” It was so moving and powerful that as soon as they ended the whole audience gave a loud standing ovation. We would like to take this time to thank the Haywood Burns Institute for creating such an outstanding and necessary network such as the Community Justice Network for Youth. We would also like to thank Milagros Acosta and Victoria Sammatino from Voices Unbroken for being so amazing and cooperative in sharing a workshop with us. If it wasn’t for them, our experience wouldn’t have been as satisfying and productive as it was. Brace yourselves for some hard hitting declarations from some outstanding future leaders…
I hate those who hate themselves
I’ve seen my nightmares become reality.
I have seen someone strung out on drugs they never used.
I want to change my mind’s perspective on everything.
I pray that God kills the villain in me and exposes the victim in me.
I believe that my praise shall deliver me outta my hurricane.
I demand that no one stays quiet — it’s time for a change
I hate how our teachers ignore our needs because we have to make it on our “own.”
I want to become the best.
I have seen a man cry
I hate people who are too busy hating on others to take care of themselves
I want people to view me for who I am now and not what I used to be.
I love that you gave me this beautiful gift called life
I believe that you will be here for us
I demand a change in the school system
I demand that we make peace on earth
I want to roam without fear
I believe we will be better
I hate fighting for something that should originally belong to me,
I want freedom; mental, physical and emotional…freedom
I demand that everyone listens to the crying voices of us; the broken youth.
AND THIS IS OUR DECLARATION!!
(Applause, Applause, Screaming and Cheering)
The Whole Group
I hate fake people (personal experiences)
I hate people who don’t keep their promises
I hate myself for not sticking up for myself
I hate when I don’t get my way.
I love myself
I love a strong mind and personality.
I love my mother for raising me by herself.
I love my late grandmother for being outspoken.
I want justice for young people
I want my life to be better than it’s been.
I want my heart back from the people I let have it.
I want a state of mind that lets me roam around.
I believe in equal rights
I believe that I can make it without having to struggle.
I believe that I will one day learn to cry.
I believe that one day I will be a better mother than my own.
I demand that I get respect from a man
Instead of being looked at like a piece of meat.
I demand that women in the world stand up for themselves
I have seen worse things in my life.
I hate people that don’t accept me for who I am.
I hate fighting for something that should originally belong to me.
I hate crying and feeling alone.
I hate feeling like there’s nothing I can do to help people
I love seeing my best friends smile
I love hearing the laughter of those around me
I love lending a helping hand
I love myself
I want to impact and change the lives of many
I want to grow and improve myself
I just want to be accepted
I want freedom; mental, physical and emotional… freedom
I believe that my future is bright.
I believe that anyone can change their lives for the better
I don’t believe in giving up
I demand respect and honesty
I demand equal opportunity
I demand a second chance
I demand that everyone listens to the crying voices of us;
Everyone around me to hear my voice the broken youth
I have seen people make something out of nothing
I have seen love bloom like a rose during the summer
In the coldest of hearts
I hate that you’re not here
I hate that you choose this life over us
I hate that you left without saying goodbye
I love that you gave me this beautiful gift called life.
I love her deep brown eyes, like yours
I love the way she smiles when she looks at your pictures
I want for her to have a normal life
I want her to grow up in a peaceful neighborhood
I want her to have a father
I believe that you will change
I believe that you be here for us
I believe in you.
I hate the terms; “throw away child,” “delinquent,” “rat,” “miscreant”, and any other
words that label me because I came from the wards.
I hate little rich men with platinum rods shoved up their behinds,
Telling me and my brother what to do.
I hate prisons, courts, detention centers and other sick buildings.
They should burn down.
I hate the dishes that are forced upon us. So what if I’m a 3rd ward child.
I want my people’s freedom
I want my ancestor’s land
I want a better education so that we won’t give up on life.
I want my community back and I believe they deserve to be back.
If you say we are ignorant
I believe we are smart and
I demand that we can prove it.
If you say we are bad
I believe your on drugs and
I demand you stop messing with us and get a life.
If you say we need to be locked up
I believe we need more freedom and
I demand you to apologize for trying to steal our light.
I have seen my ancestor’s in the face of those in jail,
I demand the keys to set them free.