Education and social justice

ABL’s Writing Leaders from high school through college are powerful activists, transforming the city in many different ways. NGLN gives them the opportunity to have their voices heard on a national platform and to collaborate with other youth who share many of the same struggles. Their primary focus is education, not only critiquing the education they are getting through the lens of social justice and intellectual rigor, but also offering teachers and the community vibrant pedagogies that can replace the “drill and kill” standardized curriculum they are subject to. The artistic renaissance blossoming in Lawrence, also driven by youth, is closely related to their work in education and social justice. They are producing and performing stunning poetry, painting, music, videos, etc, and they’re beautifying the city physically with murals and art work. Perhaps most importantly, ABL’s Writing Leaders assist or lead writing and arts programs that reach several hundred youth in the city.

Lou Bernieri

3 Responses to “Education and social justice

  • Ceci Lewis
    4 years ago

    The ABL writing leader movement is a powerful model that many communities should adopt,. Recognizing and utilizing the power of t;he youth as agents of change in their communities is exactly what our nation needs. You all are a great inspiration.

  • Lou Bernieri
    4 years ago

    One of the more fascinating phenomena of an intergenerational social action community is the powerful influence older youth have on younger ones. Imagine being a middle school Puerto Rican girl from Lawrence, being in a room of 100 youth, and hearing dozens of poems like this onr from Amaryllis EVERY DAY by your older brothers and sisters (literal and metaphoric)? Imagine as you grow older, each year you hear more and more of this kind of social justice poetry and language? What happens to you?

    We’re going to do a study on this. When the (African American) professor from North Carolina visited the workshop this past summer and asked us, incredulously, “How did this happen? How do so many of your youth, even young ones, have such an elevated consciousness?”, we talked to her about the Writing Leaders, the culture they create in ABL, the way they love and nurture their younger peers, and the way, each year, the level of consciousness and love in the whole workshop deepens.

    Adults can talk until they’re blue about social justice, but there’s nothing more transformative than youth on a mission to love and educate other youth.

    Dixie Goswami writes:

    ♪ Se mira Maria on the corner
    thinking of ways to make it better ♪
    but the US aint never helped us get any better
    only took our ports to make them richer
    la isla will be headlining news for a couple days then your president will drown it out
    the Red Cross with proclaim themselves saviors and wipe away our blood with Benjamins 
    turn our pain into currency
    make a meal for themselves out of our hunger

    ♪ Maria Maria ♪
    she cries for help
    ♪ stop the looting, stop the shooting 
    Uncle Sam pick pocking on the corner ♪
    ahora vengo mama cause
    her daughters have been uprooted and planted in a different son every year
    every year the sun gets a little hotter
    and now there’s plenty of water to put out the fire

    it’s been a week since I’ve written this poem and nothing has been done
    ♪ Ni gota de esperanza ♪
    F*** Elaine, this shit ain’t a good news story
    your satisfaction ain’t shit when my people are dying
    when laws are in place to benefit you first before us

    like y’all just gonna claim a whole territory and then forget it’s yours
    debt be our housewarming present and
    the only time we be American is when we’re on the front line 
    you’re not on our front lines
    it’s clear that we are not on your minds
    cause getting angry about people taking knees for police brutality is more offense than ignoring millions of Americans in need

    ♪ Maria Maria 
    she reminds me of a west side story ♪
    Of a modern day colonizer 
    Something like a punishment 
    A slow pulse
    A muted drum line 
    like the heart of the Caribbean ain’t screaming in an empty all-inclusive resort storage room,
    smiling for tips 24/7
    while you sip on your drinks 24/7
    for the next 6 months there will be no power 24/7
    is there any light left in your hearts?

    ♪ Borikén, you know you’re my lover
    When the wind blows I can feel you through the weather
    And even when we’re apart
    It feels like we’re together ♪

  • Lou Bernieri
    4 years ago


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