These Could Be Your Students

If you’re offended by vulgarity, criminality and degrading language towards women, then you probably should not watch the videos below. There is much here that one can take offense to, but that is not the point of me posting them.

This is part of a series that features ghettos all over the country. Here is their venture into Harlem. There are at least 2 high-school-age boys featured here, one claims to be 18 and another one who is 16. Many of the other guys here seem like they are in the same age range. Very easily, they could be or have been students in our classrooms.

They go out of their way to show how thuggish they are. For kids who are so young, they have a certain street wisdom that very few people ever attain. One gets the sense that their entire life is bound up in that little project in which this was filmed.

For all of their flashing of their street cred, they manage to touch on issues like gentrification and poverty. Their perspectives on these things are so honest that it is scary; an unwitting indictment of Bloomberg’s whitening policy for New York City.

With the release of value added data today, one wonders what the teachers of these boys could have done. Should we be held responsible and publicly shamed because our students do poorly on a test or because people find themselves locked in obscene poverty? What does a test matter to any of the boys in this video?

One wonders if the education reformers know how the urban poor live and how incredibly stupid and out of touch they sound when they talk of education fixing all the problems of the country.

I have had many students like the boys in these videos. I have also grown up with many boys that remind me of these youngsters. It is amazing how the most hardened kids, the ones steeped in criminality, have a charisma and intelligence that could be used for so much good in the world if they were just given a chance.

I think it was Sista Souljah who said that the drug dealers and gangsters of the inner cities represented the best and brightest of the black community. The fact that they can find no other outlets for their talents other than criminality is an indictment of a system that preordains their doom.

Put your judgments on hold and watch this as a learning experience. Even if they do not remind you of your students, they make up part of the environment of our students.

Warning: turn your speakers down because it comes in very loud.


5 responses to “These Could Be Your Students

  1. Brave and relevant post.

  2. Thank you very much. I was actually second-guessing myself while writing it,

  3. Im glad you didn’t second guess yourself out of not posting it. It’s raw and it is relevant. As you say well, even if they are not our kids, they make up part of the environment of our kids. Not all schools are Stuyvesant, Bronx Science or Townsend Harris. How does a teacher fight for the mind and soul of such young adults when so much is pulling them away. Again, couragous and reality based post.


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