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Posts Tagged ‘youth’

I am slowly beginning to wean myself off of social media in the mornings. It used to be fun. One could start the day with a dose of information, cuteness and joy.

Instead I now open Facebook and take a deep breath in wonder, “What mean and cruel thing has happened in the world today?” I am relieved when my senses are assaulted with birds dancing to music, children covered in peanut butter, and grandpas amusingly dancing to the music of their grandchildren’s generation.

Today was not one of those days.

A teenage boy made a clock at home and brought it to school. He ended his day in a juvenile detention center because teenage boys of Muslim Sudanese descent living in America should know better.

I find myself thinking what I would have instinctively said to that young man were he my son, nephew, cousin, mentee, or friend, “You cannot make something electronic like this at home and then bring it to school; they’ll think you’re a terrorist.” And instantly I am heartbroken with myself, because even that protective thought is cruel and unfair.

Despite the world around them, in reality what I would say (and what I am saying today) to youth is “No one has the right to limit your potential.”

I am sad. Very sad. Because for so many kids this is their reality, the scars that shape their adolescence and adulthood.

This is the world I live in.

But I haven’t lost all hope.

The candles of creativity and innovation are lit by the flames of curiosity and wonder. What the world needs today is more light. My educator heart breaks for all of the lights we extinguished today.

All is not lost. I am reminded that for every person who blows out a candle, there are several others ready to relight its flame.

I remember that I am a member of a Christian church in Texas that hosts an iftar dinner each year during Ramadan to share a meal and conversation with Muslim members of our community.

And then I read the Comments section of the Dallas Morning News’ story on Ahmed prepared to wince, but instead am surprised at the high volume of commentary in support of this child and others.

And then the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag is born, breathing new air into my life. The world isn’t completely insane.

He’s vowed never to take an invention to school again.”

But, still, there is a child, a child, who now has the memory of what it feels like to be handcuffed and fingerprinted by police. A child whose name will forever be connected to the words arrest, bomb and terrorist whenever his name is googled. And there are children and families who right now are telling themselves, be careful, be safe, it’s too risky, don’t do it.

Youth is supposed to be filled with sparks of wonder, imagination and curiosity.

I refuse to let social media bring me all the way down today. So I’m adding more oxygen to my fire by listening to dose of my freedom song playlist, so that I can be ready to relight those candles whose flames have been temporarily extinguished. I need the reminder that

  • Oh Freedom
  • Freedom is Coming [Oh Yes I Know]
  • Freedom is Coming Tomorrow
  • A Change Gone Come
  • Someday We’ll All Be Free

For those of us and those of you who felt lights dimmed a little today, in the words of the late Donny Hathaway,

Never mind your fears
Brighter days will soon be here
Take it from me, someday we’ll all be free…

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Dear #McKinneyPoolParty Youth,

I am sorry.

I am sorry that the focus is on you and not on the many adults who contributed to this situation.

I am sorry that the color of your skin caused some people to make you feel like you did or did not belong.

I am sorry that many of you will now be apprehensive about going to pools and social gatherings with your friends.

I am sorry that this will be the way you remember how your summer of 2015 kicked off.

I am sorry that the value of your home too often determines the value people place on you.

I am sorry that we did not prepare you to recognize and handle the amplifying power of social media.

I am sorry that you felt scared.

I am sorry that one of the hardest days of your lives will live for infinity on the internet.

I am so sorry.

In love,

— Simone Monique Barnes
@simonemonique

McKinneyPoolYouthImSorry

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Cultural Appropriation Photo Scavenger Hunt

The Kahnawa:ke Youth Forum is hosting a scavenger hunt.

Although I can’t officially participate in the actual scavenger hunt contest, I do see a pinterest board in my future…

#KYFdecolonize

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I’ll be serving as Dean for a fun-filled week of summer camp at Silver Lake Camp and Conference Center, in Sharon, Connecticut, July 17-23, 2011.

Diary of a Wimpy Camp Kid
Grades: 4 and 5 (co-ed)

What adventures will befall our fictitious camper? Falling in deer poop, dropping a retainer in the compost toilet, getting loud hiccups while saying Grace? Using journal writing, art making, readings, wacky recipes, and joke telling along with music, creative devotions, nature walks, swimming, ropes course, canoeing and other outdoor fun, together we’ll create an illustrated book of the unusual experiences of a Silver Lake Camp kid.

Register through Silver Lake Camp and Conference Center.

If cost is a barrier, I hear there are a few scholarships available. (Please contact Silver Lake directly for information, or check with your local church or community group to see if they have monies available.)

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