I have not known rivers. I have never experienced rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. I am not as lucky as Langston, even in the context of metaphors and similes. But my soul has grown deep with sadness.
I am the artistic director for a community service group at University of Chicago called P.A.E.C.E. (Performing Art for Effective Civic Education). This past weekend we had our first performance at a community center on the south side of Chicago (Gary Comer Youth Center). The student’s performance—titled Don’t Shoot , I wanna grow up—went well, it was a selection of original poems, skits, and stories that presented the desensitization of violence amongst youth in the black community.
After the performance was over half the students went home with their parents, and all but one took public transportation home. Which left Marcus (I have changed his name for his privacy). Shortly after everyone left, Marcus explained that he couldn’t go home tonight. When asked why, he gave an anecdote about him and his mother getting into a fight earlier that day. “It wasn’t the first time” he explained while lifting up his shirt and revealing to us the teeth marks that that dug into his skin, leaving a stapled ring of scabs around his shoulder. Marcus made my soul grow deep like a river—with sadness. At the end of the night some of the other PAECE mentors and I took Marcus to McDonalds and dropped him off to spend the night with his uncle.
Every time you think that your situation in life is bad, know that it could always be worse. Right when I start to think my life is difficult, God always seems to send someone my way to humble me.
However, I do not write these thoughts so we can have a “deep like the rivers” speech to give on Thanksgiving Day. These words are not typed so people can just be grateful for the comfortable life they have created for themselves. This blog is produced for young people who are suffering or going through hard times to know that there is always a light in what seems like an endless dark tunnel. This blog is for youth to realize that they are the future of our country, and black youth are the future of our black communities. This blog is for those young people who experience situations similar to Marcus. As hard as it becomes, don’t keep your problems locked up and hidden away. Don’t let, anger or sorrow control your life.
My soul is sad because there are so many hurting students out there with no father to look up to, and many times with neglectful or abusive mothers. My soul is sad because I look into some of these students’ eyes and only see pain. I see pain that was inflicted only by those who are previously hurting. Please feel free to email me, or visit our organization page to find other sources of help.