*This is chapter NINE to my first short story titled, Da G.O.A.T (The Gangsta of ALL Teachers). Remember, these blogs are only available for TWO WEEKS and they will be deleted. Then, chapter 10 for 2 weeks and deleted, chapter 11… I appreciate all likes and loves. I respond to all comments. Those SHARES tho? OMG! I LOVE THOSE SHARES!!!*
So, that’s why you look out for us?
It’s not the first time that I’ve shared a personal story with my students. I admit that my own teaching success comes from my relationship with them. The more I know of their home lives, the more involved I become; I am able to connect what I need them to know and what they already know. I believe the term is schemata. My kids already know about trains, gangs and awful shit. I need them to connect me, their teacher, with life away from awful shit.
“QUARTER HORSES!” I bellowed and slammed the double-five domino. “Basically, my job was to bring clientele to the product. I also recruited girls for trains.” I looked at each of them, “The same thing you all considered. You agree to 1 guy, maaaaaybe 2 but… You don’t decide how many guys come through, WHICH guys coming, nothing. It is some diiiiiirty dudes out there.”
Syria was next, “Shit”, she whispered and knocked softly. “Naah, I believe you Mr. C. It’s just, shit.”
“Bet they was all white too. Fuck white girls and all white folks” Princess said. She was too loud for my taste.
Jada asked, “What’s the most guys you’ve ever seen with one girl?” She laid her domino. She seemed to almost shrink as our conversation became a question-and-answer session. Jada reminded me of my younger self. She spoke the gang language, knew their codes, committed with friends; all while maintaining an exterior of innocence at home and school. Jada was just like me. She had no comprehension of the concept that I needed HER to hear this part of MY testimony. Every time I share a personal story, it is to build trust with all my students but I’m attempting to connect with ONE, specific kid. There is one student, I believe, running parallel with the story and I’m hoping to influence that kid. On my last day, I needed Jada to see herself.
“That’s not what you want to know.” I said to Jada then, looked at Princess, “before you play, no more wild comments. If it’s too much, use the restroom. For real Princess. You know we don’t play racism, prejudice or stereotypes here. You gotta hold it down on my last day.”
“I ain’t mean it Mr. C. You know I’m half white.” Princess looked genuinely apologetic. “I don’t even know why I said it. I was tripping on the story. In my head, I saw rich, white girls being cool with trains for dope. Pretty standard stuff to me.” She was tough as any student I’ve ever taught or known. Despite her home life as a second generation gang member, she survived a gunshot wound and ran track for the school.
This is how I scold students like Princess. By correcting her abusive comment to white people, giving her an out and moving on. I do not wait for the usual ‘recognition of my authority’. I move on quickly without making her feel embarrassed or challenged. She knows what she said was wrong, apologized (which is not rare) and she’s ready to move on. Win for both.
Princess sucked her teeth while gazing at her hand of dominos. She moved her lips in silent calculation of the points, smiled, called, “TEN TIDY, big head, little body!” and body slammed her domino.
“Mr. C!” Syria dragged the ‘c’ as she spoke. It was a sign of her curiosity. “Back to the story before the bell rings. What’s the most guys?” Dominos is my magic pill of therapy and anger management, the girls all saw themselves in the story and they were getting impatient.
“Like I said, that is not what you want to know.” It was my turn to play and I was being dramatic. I thought of sitting outside that small cemetery, “They, WE, took girls to cemeteries. Whether it was three or whatever, we used a cemetary. You don’t know how many there will be. Guys just hear and kinda show up.” Tears began to form in my eyes. I couldn’t help it but I learned early that tears and personal stories always hold the students’ attention.
Syria and Princess stared hungrily. Jada pretended that her hand of dominos was a cellphone, she glanced up.
“What you need to know is that one girl agreed but after the train are jokes, looks, feelings that everyone knows, sometimes videos are made of what is done. That doesn’t stop. That part, the dealing with it after it is over, sometimes years later.” Now, I sniffed and blinked away some the tears.
“Wait…” Jada regained her voice and made eye contact. “How do you know all this?”
“Because one of those girls committed suicide after.” I held eye contact, “another went to the police after the video was used to make her keep doing it.”
“Holy shit.” Princess whispered. She laid her dominos face down. “Yo, y’all wasn’t letting girls join no squad. Y’all was pimping girls out. That ain’t the same thing.”
I knocked, “That’s my point. The girls don’t know either. You three asked me what I know about girls joining gangs. That is my experience as the guy that brought you in. Nobody calls a girl to help fight, get revenge, pull a drive-by, move the dope. We call the girls when the squad needs some money to smoke or drink, when guys can’t get their own girl or to hold dope while we’re running from law enforcement. In gangs, girls can be dollars to be traded and used, not bangers and soldiers.”
“Not me!” Princess retorted sharply without looking at me. “Everybody know I’m bout that life.” She was, as a 2nd generation gang member, born into the life.
“Hell, me either” Syria was next as she looked down.
“And,” I started; trying to time the ending with the bell ringing for lunch, “What do you think you’re doing while you prove that you can bang with boys?” The bell rang sharply.
The classroom broke into a collection of groans and moans.
“Mr. C!!!!!!! Can we stay?! It’s your last lunch with us?” Kids were asking in waves as they rushed out.
“Nope, sorry y’all. I gotta run to the Alternative School real quick and say bye over there.” Everyone bumbled responses in their ultimate quest to escape and find lunch. I gave a massive number of hugs considering we’d all be together again after lunch.
Previous Related Post: Chapter 8 of Da G.O.A.T. (Gangsta of All Teachers)