Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dear Inner City High School Students - poem under construction

I see you
I know why you cry
I know why you act out
You just want someone to care
I know because I was there
And not even a long time ago
Don't write me off as being old
It's only been five short years since I was living your life
I know exactly what it's like
to just want people to care
All you want is for them to say they'll be there
All you want is for them to listen and to validate the struggle you're going through
You just want them to prove they can see you
And I see you
I hear you
I care about what you're going to live through
not just because I was there too
but because I see the things you face that you shouldn't have to

I believe in what you can do
I believe that you don't have to stay where you
I believe you can move
You can grow
You can be or do whatever you want as long as you know
that you'll only get there by your efforts
It's not me,
it's not my grades,
it's not this system or money you may or may not have to pay.
What matters is your drive
You have to decide:
this is what I'm going to do
this is why and this is how

There's nothing anyone can do to hold you back once you learn that
There's nothing anybody can say to keep you down once you're bound and determined
to keep going
to keep fighting
to keep living
to keep striving
Not to die before it's your time
once you decide, there's nobody who can take that life away from you
it's yours to do with what you're called to,
what you can
which is anything
I just hope you know that

I have to make sure you know that
it's my job to tell you
if I have to look into each pair of eyes
and banish forever the tears you refuse to cry so that you'll know
I'll do it
I'll fight your demons with you everyday to make sure you remember that not only is there a way
but there are plenty of ways
you just have to pick the one that's yours
all you have to do is prove that you have something to live for
and I know you do

I see it in you
in the things you try to hide from me
I see it in the doodles in the margins of your papers from class
I hear it in the way you talk back
You're practicing being defiant,
learning to fight the system before you become a victim of it.
And I love it.
I thank God for your spirit and the challenge it puts on me.
Just make sure you learn the right time and the right place.
That's how you'll get from where you are to where you want to be.

I care about you.
I wouldn't be here if I didn't.
Please don't believe that this is easy, because it's not.
I've given up so much for you.
I sacrifice all day, everyday for you.
And I'm not asking for your applause.
I'm not asking you to join my cause.
I just want you to have some respect for yourselves,
for me, and for the sacrifices we have made to teach.
We ask that you learn.
We ask that you listen and believe.
We ask that you reach inside yourself and understand
that there's more to life than where you've been.
Where are you going?

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