bells curve

November 4, 2013

the system has expectations for our children:
they hold our kids hostage to numbers called statistics.
so when the bell curve tolls in our hood
it announces the death of another brilliant mind
whose brain has been washed in toxic detergents
of a public education system
whose lesson is you: can’t do this.

“add them to the numbers,” they say.

numbers we wear on an orange suit across our chest
numbers we carry on a government issued card
numbers… to cluster us all into a bundle of expected failure.

that’s some ‘ish right there.

believe me when i tell you
we can survive the system that fails us.
the very same system that tries to derail us.
they blame us for the fault they’ve committed
against our children.
but we can survive the system’s shade
with our Light.

everyone knows there are more cops at our schools
than resources. everyone knows when government budgets
get cut our schools bleed out.

here is a fact: statistics are not a death sentence.

if we can rise above the stat… we can shift the curve
to turn the streets of our neighborhoods
cut through the park
stop in the corner bodega
head to the church
to preach the miracle
that we are.

we are born survivors.

i know that our grades are affected by more than just what happens at school.
i know that trying to help your mother by doing a little hustling is your truth.
i know that you go to your room when you hear the screams of violence in our neighborhood.
i know some days you wonder if food will be on the dinner table.

the reality of our realities are not for the weak. and that is all the proof we need to be certain of what we can accomplish.

we are known to survive in the most adverse circumstances.

i expect you to thrive Hermanit@. i believe you can thrive.

i want you to look at the stat and say, “i’m an outlier.”

“i am that number that will not be included. i will exhaust every possible resource because i know how to hustle a scholarship. i got skills so sick no antibiotic can get rid of it. i am my community’s miracle child. my swag is success!”

you are being called by our community
to stand for our community
and lift our community out, up and over.

you are needed. you are wanted to create change from within. you are the answer to the question.

to the system we are a number with an attached expectation.

what are you to your Self? what is your expectation of you?

commit to the miracle that you are.

bells will curve. we will be sound.


the minority project

March 4, 2013

in our neighborhoods
the avenues are packed
with fast food restaurants
that starve us slowly.
value-less meals
dipped in special sauce
deplete our bodies.
we consume chemicals
that turn our stomachs
into quarter-pounds of fat.
obesity and heart disease
the golden arches
of our health disparities.
they. are. loving. it.

in our neighborhoods
the avenues are packed
with churches
but nobody is being saved.
church leaders get rich
on the poor’s faith;
halleluiahs are a business now.
bankrupt souls.
our biggest debt
is to our spiritual selves.
let. the. church. folk. say.

in our neighborhoods
our schools are packed.
failing and falling apart,
our abc’s are tested
on a system that was fixed
to educate a different
group of students,
who have a different set
of resources.
but we get the “F”
and the reports
leave us wondering
why the kids couldn’t
carry the one…
“well you know Mis’
it’s difficult to add
when all of your
life you’ve been subtracted.”
our children
become common denominators.

in our neighborhoods
the streets are packed
with people who walk with no direction.
all the roads say one way.
this was never built to actually
make you feel at home.
we are displaced in our own communities.
nothing belongs to us. not even our thoughts.
we have street signs named after dead leaders
and road blocks have been built
in the name of infrastructure
we arrive at dead ends
with every corner we turn.
you can’t have a dream here.
there is no moving on up
when the east side
is being gentrified.
so we’re moving on down.
ghettos are for sale.
buy cheap. sell high.
if you build it
they will leave…

hungry. poor. uneducated. displaced.

this is how you keep a majority labeled minority.

god’s intentions

August 16, 2009

my eyes fixed
on the beauty
of the landscape
that is this
Dominican Republic

i saw you
in your school uniform
your little hand
on the side of the road
asking for a ride

is the only way to get
to school for you
and thousands alike.

‘cause papi walks six miles
to work
a twelve hour shift
in the sugar cane fields.
and mami can’t leave
your little brothers
under that tin roof home
to walk you
four miles
to school
and back
under this hot
caribbean sun
that burns and turns
hope into ashes.

your school
on the left
is falling
and failing.

your abc’s
become POW’s.
prisoners of a war
you didn’t wage,
prisoners to a system
that keeps you caged.

you sit in the car
i ask “what’s your name?”
“Rosaury,” you smile
(that beautiful smile).
you’re just ten-years-old
and you tell us you’re
in first grade.
i do the math
i realize that you’re behind.
logic tells me
it has nothing to do with your ability to learn,
but in this government’s unwillingness to provide
the necessary resources.
science tells me nature and nurture have abused you,
while geography displaces your dreams.
history will repeat itself in the womb of your offspring
and religion will make you question God’s intentions.

this government
in disorder
robs your future
then punishes you
for the crime it commits against you.

this landscape
can not hold beauty
if it’s just a backdrop
for what really lies behind.

~Sarahi Yajaira, 2009