At Spruce Street SCRC we have a good groove going. Luc brings his guitar and I bring the art and theatre games and we enjoy the company of the young people there.
The other day an interesting topic came up. We were sitting around the art table and I had directed the conversation to how to deal with anger. Most of the kids agreed that if someone disrespects you or spreads gossip about you it’s ok to retaliate with violence. When I suggested telling the offending person how that made you feel one young man aged 16 and already a toughened up gang banger said that was ” ho stuff.” I was not sure what he said or meant so he clarified by saying that if you tell someone how you feel that it was “ho stuff- the stuff a ho’ would do.” In other words, showing weakness and consequently dangerous. I had to agree that it probably was a dangerous thing to do in his world and we could come up with a better option. Ignore the insult and walk away were other ideas.
Now contrast this with a conversation I was having with another adult about the work I do and I mentioned risk taking as one of the elements of my teaching. His response was,
” Are you sure you want these kids taking risks? It seems they are already indulging in risky behavior as it is.” It dawned on me that the risks these young people must take involve learning how to be vulnerable in a world that punishes you for it. Talking about your feelings doesn’t come easy to even the most “sophisticated” adult but these young people must find a better solution to their anger other than violence or they will end up in prison. No question about it. Maybe art is a good solution.