Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010, 4:22 AM Cape Town Time- My Dorm (LBG)

I am writing this in an angry sleepy haze. Tonight at about 3 AM we had a fire drill. It was super loud and obnoxious and we all had to go outside and stand around until we got checked in and it was wack. Blah. Anyway.

Class today was pretty meh. Started going through some poems in my African Poetry seminar, which was good. My teacher really knows his stuff and that makes it easier to get into the work. After classes today I went to the library and did some poking around and found James Baldwin's collected essays "The Price of The Ticket." Baldwin is very much one of my idols so I had to check out the book. His writing really is spectacular. His construction is masterful and some of the insights he had even way back when are so true to me now in terms of the fate of America and the condition of the Negro (this is my current preferred word for Black Americans). He is that dude.

Today I also went to LEAP School to volunteer. I'm probably going to end up working with the kids during their sports time on Tuesday and on Thursday I'm going to teach a hip-hop/creative writing program during their cultural activities. It should be good. It'll force me to get organize and do some serious lesson planning and it will hopefully make the kids more dexterous in English (which is particularly important as they go to college because it is not their first language but it is the language of university). I'm looking forward to getting into things and teaching and learning. Some of the other volunteers kind of annoy me. They mean well (oh such dangerous words) but they tend to say and do a lot of stupid things. And on that note…a surefire way to irk me is to use the term "ghetto" indiscriminately and flippantly for things that you consider to be of poor quality or construction (particularly when its said from the place of privilege of never having to live in so-called "ghetto" spaces). But yeah. Meh.

            What was funny and great was the "black privilege" I experienced at the school. There are 2 other black students who are volunteering and all three of us basically took initiative to offer our skills and establish new programming for the school. The other students were more tentative and kind of waited to be placed. As a result when we were talking to our coordinator he sorted us 3 out very quickly and invited us to chill in the other room. All the other students looked kind of confused. When everything was done and they called students from the school to give us a tour the two girls who were tour guides immediately gravitated toward us (the black volunteers). Our coordinator had to tell them to not simply focus on us because we were black. Once we got back to his office, we had a very frank discussion about the ethics of educating black kids and teaching them more than how to imitate white intellectuals. He talked about the importance of social responsibility and giving back, particularly from a black, urban standpoint. These are things I get very much and it was great to hear an educator sharing my views. The other (read: non-black) volunteers looked confused and distraught slightly.

            This is not to degrade whitefolks or anything like that I assure you. But honestly sometimes it feels good to have the tables turned. I can bet that is probably the first time that most of those kids have been in an all-black school and had to have that conversation. It's nice to sometimes be in a context that gets you straight up without you having to code switch.

So LEAP was dope. After that I pretty much chilled. T'was a good day. Until of course, this damn alarm. Good night/morning.

"count days of the week while you fools count sheep. i'll have enough time for z's when i'm 6 feet deep."




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