Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Weekend trip back to the "A"

So this past weekend I had to go BACK to Atlanta, GA for the 91st Annual ASALH Conference. ASALH is the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. It was founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History week, which later turned into Negro History Month and of course Black History Month...

So let me take a little time to dispel something right now the "white (politician) man" did NOT give US the shortest month of the year...Dr. Woodson picked February, in particular the initial Negro History Week, because it fell between Abraham Lincoln's birthday and what was thought to be Frederick Douglass' birthday (there was no record kept of an enslaved persons birth)

Ok, so every year for the past five years Kiamsha's Youth steering committee (which I am a Director of) goes and puts on the Youth Day for ASALH. This year it was a little different because the person that normally directs the day was going on a much deserved vacation so it was up to KW and CJ to direct the performance. Also this year it wouldn't just be Kiamsha students presenting on youth day but we had 4 Atlanta students that were to present as well. My role was to blind the two groups of students and make sure that the mentors where doing their job, just keep everything running smoothly, move between KW/CJ and RJ as needed. RJ had to do the logistical stuff which was good because she is great with money and rooms and all that stuff.

So our weekend starts with us having to be at Largo High School at 3:45 AM, yes that's right people, 3:45 AM on Thursday morning to catch the shuttle to the airport. We get to the airport and we are doing good...one of the kids left his ID (although I clearly made an annoucement prior to leaving the school asking if everyone had their IDs) so he gets clowned off the break...which was cool...we make it to Atlanta safely...we met Kep at the airport and we are off to the hotel

We get to the Hilton and we get settled and we meet up with the Atlanta youth...off the break I tell Kep you are in charge of the males. Why? Because Kep has this thing about me and my "attitude" with the guys. See I am one of the coolest mentors you can talk to me about any and everything, I am going to keep it real and I am always going to take you to the Absolute Truth to find an answer. However, I take nothing less than the utmost respect. So the guys and girls HEAR IT often from me at the same time. So I am cool but I don't play...so I tell him you want to make a difference, here is your chance!

...well we find our rooms in the hotel, and go down to the show room to get acquainted with one another. So we do some Ice Breakers and then we are off to lunch and due back for rehearsals at 2pm. I must say I LOVE bonding with the youth...I really do. So it was really easy to transition our youth with theirs.
KW/CJ had those youth rehearsing for 4 hours straight and they did a really good job on keeping them focused, we had dinner, 2 more hours of rehearsal and then we were done. Off to bed by what midnight.

Friday, the day of Youth Day....What can I say other than it came together GREAT! It was one of the BEST shows I have seen in a minute. Those youth were on point the entire performance. You could tell the Kiamsha youth from the Atlanta youth only in that Kiamsha students have been on stage before so they were a little louder AND because of the accents other than that...it was a smooth transition...it wasn't choppy and it didn't look like all we had was one day TOGETHER of rehersals....
You could tell that the 150+ Atlanta students that came liked it. They were extremely interactive and came up with their schools mission statement and everything! What can I say it was a GREAT youth day. BUT something did happen in the end.

KW had put her cell phone down on the tech table and it was stolen! (we know it was stolen because the phone was turned off immediately and was going straight to voice mail) I was heated and conflicted at the same time. I made the annoucement that the phone was missing and proceeded to wait for someone to turn it in during lunch. NOTHING. So I asked the other KW, KW2 (KW's little sister...KW2) if she could go around and ask the teachers to ask their students about the phone...CD did the same...I KNEW I couldn't do it because I was HEATED I mean I was really HEATED! But the phone never turned up. Some of the youth wanted to search the kids that were there, but we just taught them about their history, we had just taught them about the difference between a conviction and a preference, the difference between being a slave and being enslaved and how life is all about choices. Mainly, although I was heated I didn't want to accuse 149 students for the actions of 1. I mean really it would have defeated the entire purpose of what we were trying to instill during Youth Day. So we had to just let it go. KW called and canceled the phone and called the Atlanta PD to file a report (who by the way did NOT show up until 12 hours later at 1 AM).

So I sat and had a rap session with the youth. I expressed to them that when they buy a "hot" phone, or a "hot" anything that they are buying something from someone who has violated someone like KW was violated. And so they too needed to think about the choices that they make in life and really internalize what it was that they were teaching...they HAVE to think! I have learned to use every moment I can as a teaching moment...that was a true test for me. Because me personally, I was torn what to do, but ultimately its the bigger picture you have to think about...so that was that.

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary."
Dr. Carter G. Woodson

We have to learn to think...outside the box...we have to think...

after that we had "FREE TIME" for a couple hours so we gave the youth instructions and me and KW went to the Hard Rock Cafe just to get out of the hotel for a minute...it was cool just walking around downtown Atlanta and I got a little taste of it.

Friday night we went to the unveiling of the Dr. Woodson's new display at Emory University. That was the first time I had been in the Northeast part of Atlanta, so it was cool to see that. It reminded me of NW or the Georgetown area of DC...somewhere I wouldn't live, but it was cool to be in another type of environment other than downtown Atlanta to get a bigger view of what its like there. The display was really nice as well...the evening for ASALH was called "A Night Out" so there was food and everything...once again we were buggin out us and the youth which was cool.

We came back and had to be ready for our Poetry Night which Kep and Drea hosted. Now, this thing was off the HOOK...every generation present at the conference was present at the poetry night. Even the pastor that sponsored it got up and spit a poem...It was so awesome. Elders and youth alike jamming to poetry, spoken word, and music...it was a sight to see. Kep and Drea did they thing as usual, both rap and are spoken word artist. I personally just started writing poetry again, but I got up and did my piece titled "Merely an Ideal." There were a couple of folks out there that did their thing. But this one MAN stands out to me. His name is Derrick Bailey and he is the founder of the Man or Male Movement. He got up there and did some spoken word about the difference between a Man and a male. What he is doing needs to get all over the country, that's how deep and real this message really is! Hopefully I can get him to come to DC so be on the look out for that....

Saturday, we toured Atlanta going to the MLK Center and the Herdon House (Alonzo Herdon was worth 22 million dollars upon his death in the what 1927...interesting story). We also had lunch at Paschal's a famous Atlanta eatary. The food was good. What was funny is that we ran into TI's Grand Hustle Street Team...too funny...they was cool though, gave the youth some CD's but funny. The thing that was most interesting over lunch was that KW and I talked to CD and his wife PD about moving to Atlanta and he said something that has me thinking...

"it shouldn't just be about the money, T you have to think about your purpose in life, what's your true purpose? Can you do what you do with the youth in Kiamsha in Atlanta, you have to think about that...what do you really want out of life?"

So NOW I have to think about that too...I guess I will address this in another post.

The trip was like one of the BEST Kiamsha trips we have had in a LONG time. Me, KW, CJ, and RJ were in total control and we had NOT one issue with any of the students. Nobody got in trouble for anything! WE learned a lot about them and they learned alot about us. We talked about a lot of stuff, from the education systems, the light skin v. dark skin issue, or just simple stuff like music: hip hop v. rap, go go v. crunk....

It was truly positive and uplifting. As tired as I was and still am, I love being around them...they just MAKE you want to give back, keep them from making the mistakes you made, pour in knowledge and wisdom...its a beautiful thing. Our youth aren't lost, they just need some guidance.

Well I know this was really long, but with so much negative being said about the youth today I just really wanted to take the time and say it ain't all negative there is a whole lot of positive out here too!


BrillD said...

Hey t.c.. You're a really good person.
I sensed that from the beginning.
Big props for what you're doing with
and for the youth. Take care.

j.a.c. said...

Thanks for posting this. It was my first time not attending an ASALH conference, so thanks for letting me live the experience through your words. I wish I could have been there.

So that's why you said the A might not be for you... interesting. Looking forward to a post on that.

T.C. said...

@ brilld- thanks bro I do it from the heart...I love the kids!

@JAC-not just the fact that my purpose may just be here to keep Kiamsha alive and take it, HOPEFULLY, to the next level...BUT I just wasn't feeling the A...something about it...just seems overrated to me right now...I don't know, me and KW talked about doing a 4 day weekend down there to really figure it all out...what did you decide? I think you need to visit there first before you move and buy a home and all of that...

and your welcome I had to share it...the youth deserve to be seen in the positive light!

Kep said...

Yeah it was a great trip. I feel you on the "purpose" being in DC with Kiamsha. I'm still debating what mine is. Time will tell. The Almighty has a way of making things blatantly obvious for me so that I know when I'm making the right decision. You are definitely needed, and I think we'd make quite the team down there. We'll see. . .

As far as your "attitude" with the youth, I don't think it's that. It's more of how they perceive it. Knowing you and just being more laid back than the average male (let alone the average high school male) I can still act logically when you talk to me about something. Your tone and demeanor says "I want to fight" or "You have a problem" when you get passionate sometimes. . . Sometimes. What I'm always saying is just to take into account that the ego will make the logic shut off, so you can't jump in their face about stuff and expect them to listen. It really does eliminate the point of talking.

It's not so much yielding to their ego, because you need to say what you need to say. It's more recognizing the differences between males and females. For example, the last time we went to ASALH Ben and Kevin were getting really annoyed that we had the long rap session with Mrs. Croom about being disrespected by the older folks not taking time to talk to us. The men honestly didn't care. We saw that they weren't interacting with us, but it wasn't a thing. If I was someone from ASALH I would take the time to let Kiamsha know they were appreciated more for the women's sake than anything. I know male's don't care about recognition on that level most of the time, but women just need to hear it. There's nothing wrong with that. It's all just little male/female differences. Men need some things that women don't and vice versa. And DON'T need some things that women do.

Feel me?


Kep said...

I've really got to work on how I come off on paper. After reading my comment, I've come to the conclusion that I have the rare gift of being able to talk too much while simultaneously saying too little.

Just to clarify, Tiffany is a great mentor to the youth and, no, she doesn't attack them. When I say "jump in their face" it's more of a figure of speech/exaggeration. I have a lot of those. You get used to them :-) What I mean is that they can take it that way because when people really get passionate about something, we can come off as aggressive in our urgency and with males, it will cause our egos to turn on and ears to shut off.

Like I said, it's not that she has an "attitude" with the youth. It's just that they can perceive it that way. And it isn't like it's all the time.
Oh, and when I said her demeanor can say "I want to fight," I meant that that's how they can take it. I know that I have to watch that because I've got some of my mom in me. When she cares, she gets passionate, when she gets passionate, she gets confrontational. And my mom is one of the most chill people you'll ever meet. Again, it's an urgency thing.

Last correction point: "it really does eliminate the point of talking" is saying just that. Ego on, ears off. :-) It's sad, but dudes do that.

I don't want anyone thinking that she's doing anything harmful where they're concerned, because she truly cares about these kids. You see it in every rap session, lecture, and social event. You even see it in her blogs! I mean, if she didn't really care then it wouldn't be such a factor in her future plans. I know how much time it takes to be a Kiamsha Youth, Alumnus, and Alumni Officer, so I can only imagine how much it takes to be a mentor. Not to mention all the emotion that goes into it. My big sis handles her, so don't let anyone tell you different!

Much love,

T.C. said...

You ain't so bad yourself either Kep *wink* you do well with the youth! Keep it up and I can't wait until you come home and we can REALLY put you to work!

Much love right back at ya...