Voices from School Communities: Adriel

 In Scott Sikkema, The CAPE Blog, Voices from School Communities

Teacher Maria Nava and artist Marceia Scruggs co-teach in the CAPE after-school program at Telpochcalli Elementary School. They recently contacted CAPE program staff to share with us some writing by Adriel, who is 11 years old and just finished 6th grade.

As a preface to the first piece shared by Adriel, Marceia wrote, “We had all been feeling it all too well– the everlasting results of racial inequality and too frequent hashtags beginning with “JusticeFor”, concluding with #SayTheirNames. From The Teachers Strike to a racial pandemic, it seemed most essential to PAUSE once more and allow participants in our movement program a moment of breath— a moment of reflection on what they are observing, feeling, and methods they might utilize to help fight the good fight. Too often is it forgotten that our kids feel and are just as much impacted by the systems around them, their surrounding communities, and the world at large: especially the lingering lack of health & other resources and the militarization of our communities. Adriel warmed our spirits and awakened our hearts with his brave thoughts.”

Here is the first reflection by Adriel:

On TV and conversations with my family I have seen and heard about George Floyd getting murdered by a cop and so I thought that the cop was doing it on purpose because it seems like the cop was taking advantage of his power to hurt this poor man. Floyd deserves justice

So to help my community, I can help my mom and grandmom with washing the dishes and cleaning up my mess. I can show people that I care by wearing a mask every time I go outside and treat people kindly as I would like to be treated.

A couple days after sharing Adriel’s thoughts, Maria emailed us back regarding work she and Marceia were doing with the students around the book Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester. Maria wrote, “Just wish to share this reflection with you as well, also from Adriel. This is related to our discussions and an assigned reading of this book. I felt it was important for students to have a heart-to-heart discussion with their families. We will continue to work towards obtaining a better understanding of what is justice/equality/race in our classroom and in our CAPE sessions.”

Here is Adriel, reflecting on their classroom discussion of Let’s Talk About Race:

After reading this book I learned that everybody’s the same underneath our skin, as humans. Something else I learned about this book is that it’s okay to be a different race. The last thing that I learned about this book is that if people say that a race is better than yours it is truly not because everybody’s culture is special in their own way.

After reading this book, the questions I still have are: Why do we have to separate people into races? How many races are there? Who created races and why did they?

What can I do to create a positive change in my home and in my school is to stay inside during this pandemic. I would also take care of my responsibilities, like doing my homework and helping with chores. I can also help my cousin with her homework, while her mom is at work like a big brother would do. Then, I can practice on improving my behavior and listening because it can help to relieve stress in my family and everybody can feel like they can trust me.

Our thanks to Maria Nava and Marceia Scruggs for their great leadership, Adriel for his powerful and beautifully written views, and to all the students in Maria and Marceia’s class.

-Scott Sikkema

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