Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Career Without Jade

I had a conversation recently with a woman who, potentially, is responsible for my success both in college and in my criminal justice career. During this short conversation between classes, she asked if I was feeling all right - I'd been quiet during class, and I usually have input. My response was that 18 hours of school this semester, plus a 40 hour/week job is getting to me, and...then there's the other thing.

I'm starting to wonder what in the hell I'm going to do after I graduate in May with a Criminal Justice degree. Law has always been an idea, and nobody that knows me denies that I'd be a formidable litigator. But, is that who I want to be? Certainly this juvenile detention gig is only going to take me so far. I mean, I've only been there for 4 months, and already there's an oscillating fan spinning defecation everywhere. Probation would become too comfortable, and while I'd be able to help kids in a different capacity, perhaps even more effectively, it's just a cushy enough job that I fear I'd become complacent.

Then there's the issues that keep coming up as a problem in nearly every industry that I attempt here in fabulous East Texas. My sexuality and opposing religious views tend to not stay in their cave for long. Eventually, each one finds some avenue in which to cause drama and screw up whatever small comforts I've found.

So, I'm becoming jaded with the world of Juvenile Services. I'm finding that my academic and practical sides are at odds, increasingly, with one another. I see the stereotypes walk in wearing those little handcuffs daily. Hourly, on the worst days. They're constantly living up to what the textbooks say they truly aren't. They're constantly proving what the media and the little voices in the back of everyone's head says about them. The same little voices that tell you not to walk down dark alleys and who to keep your children away from. My academic side tells me about their internal pushes and external pulls. Their families that helped them, both biologically and psychologically, to become the people I see. I see case after case of the chronic 6-8% that will never, no matter how hard we work - and we work so very hard - become a productive member of society. Someone that we'll be supporting behind bars with our tax dollars for the rest of their life.

I hate that. I hate that I think that way.

Funny thing, my professor said she always saw me as a teacher. Funnier still, isn't there an adage that goes something about those that can't do.... I'd love to be a teacher. I think I'd be quite good, but I also feel like I should be out there being the one to make a difference. Perhaps, though, that is not my fate. Perhaps for those of us on the fringes of society. Those of us that are in this minority or that 10%, we are not to be the movers or the shakers. 

In times like these, I think of the words of William Henley in "Invictus"

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

Well, I suppose that one half of me thinks of those words. The other half thinks of words that I've written in my poem "Bred."

Bred

These children, they’re products
knowing only that they aren’t cared for
for the ones before them made sin
into song lyrics and subculture and

statistics.

Each one a number until their
number is up, and they just know
their products.
What they sell or buy or sacrifice
to get behind.

Their eyes tell too many stories
of homes that could be broken
or just glued back together or
as perfect as the 1950s thought
it was – all of them not enough.

And it is not enough that they are
ignorant and blind, not enough
that they have too few brain cells
because some homeboy said
You put it to your lips like this…

It is not enough to know this
problem and far from enough to fix the problem.
This information is bread.

Bred into each one and then
consumed from each to each.
his own momma throwing him
to the dogs in hopes of halting
the howling
fully realizing that the dogs
are the neighbors and rap
songs and the fostered idea
of police brutality

it’s the lack of positivity or a chance
and none of it is enough unless
we learn to count each number
singularly, chewing on the edges
of both ‘hood and statistic

and human realization.

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