WASS GOOD SHAWWWDAY! YA`HEARD MAY LIL`DADDY! KUHTRINA AIN’T TOOK US ALL DADDY! WE STILL HE-uh!
That’s wha I heard a lot this past weekend…haha..and it was mad inspiring given what the city I was in went through. New Orleans, LA! Where you can drink in public and the beads game ain’t JUST for mardi gras..hahaha….which took a hurricane and kept tickin’. The N.O. was mos`def still standing.
I’ve been working with this non-profit organization for a few years called YouthBuild USA. It’s a great organization that is dedicated to helping youth and their communities by supplying them with job training (typically in the construction field). Along with that though they also have GED and H.S. diploma classes for those who dropped out of school but want to finish high school, also making pathways for those who want to continue and go to college. They also offer important life skills courses such as money management, anger management, conflict resolution, even job interview conduct and resume writing. They’ve been in operation for the last 30 years and have grown from 1 program in East Harlem (New York) to over 300 programs nationally and 75,000 graduates who’ve passed through their doors. I happen to be one of them. Through them I’ve gained an immeasurable amount of skills, and served on their National Alumni Council in 2003 – 2006. With them I have been all over the country advocating for youth and people’s rights, made my voice heard from the porch to the senate floor, and met hundreds of fellow dedicated youth who want to fight for social justice.
This past weekend (Nov 15-17) I was invited to the annual alumni meeting called the Alumni Exchange in New Orleans, Louisiana. AND IT WAS MADDD NYSE!
First! Speak’n on Business:
I haven’t really been active since 2006 so jumping back on the scene was…comforting. It’s like going back home to family after a hard day’s work (this being a year though). It always refreshing, re-energizing and you never feel uncomfortable.
We had 2 day workshops designed and facilitated by youth themselves. For those who have been to workshops that are work related, you know what I mean when I say that they can be pretty tedious. I’m still a young man..okay..somewhat young (25 son!)..and it used to kinda get to me how there were (no offense) white people running workshops, talking about situations as if THEY were living in the ‘jects and in low-income areas. Don’t take me wrong, I greatly appreciate them for their work, effort and strides that they’ve taken in order to try and assist low income youth and families (I LOVE WHITE PEOPLE..haha. especially the girls), but c’mon now. You don’t ask your mechanic about laundry nor do you ask a bus driver how to fly a plane. So the fact that YB (YouthBuild) has been incorporating young people who know what’s necessary to make it in the hood and still be successful in life? RIGHTEOUS. It just fits. Plus if your target area is youth, it’ll be more effective if a peer of the similar age group and/or situation informs/tells/help them. Plus it’s empowering for youth when you let them become active facets of their communities as well as inspirational pieces to those who are listening and learning from them.
So I took a course called “Leading 4 Real” which was facilitated by my homies Ely Flores, 21 and Frank Alvarez, 21 both out of East Los Angeles. It was designed as half a history lesson, and half a piece that urged youth to become active leaders in their community whether on the mic or not. They spoke of important figures of past and present, some you’ve heard of like Malcolm X, MLK, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara. And some that folks aren’t familiar like Sal Castro, Delores Fuentes, and Bayard Rustin. Very deep and well designed workshop by 2 young men who went from the LA ganglife to prinson to designin and teachin workshops.
I also was able to reconnect with some valuable colleagues who got me fired up to go back into the fields of activism and advocating for people’s rights…so look for ya boy on the front page (hopefully without the handcuffs!).
but indeed! imma have to get back to ya’ll with the rest!..hahaha..
LiJH! – “haha..heyyy it does taste like chicken…or pork?”