The Beauty of Culture and Our Changing Society

Tonight, I had the opportunity to watch something rather wonderful. I wasn’t alone, we all viewed what represents the identity of who we are, how we represent, what is truly special about our school district.

Tonight, Shakopee High School, held a culture fest, one that celebrated a host of different ethnic groups that as a collective whole did speak to the beauty of our diversity. There were dances, puppetry, singers that modeled cultural mores produced by a student body that exists beyond the classroom. They smiled, they hugged one another, they reached out to a marvelous gathering of people from all walks of life.

Parents came to support their children. There were people that might not walk into a high school because there could be apprehension due to cultural differences that are sometime intimidating because of language barriers and matters of equity and diversity. There were visitors, faculty, administrators who attended and spoke to one another and celebrated students who came up to them and shook hands, gave high fives, smiled and laughed and beamed with pride and courage for what they were accomplishing together as a collective whole.

To be a teacher in this school district is a special blessing in the sense that we get the chance to interact with a student body that teaches us how to recognize and understand culture beyond what is sometime taken for granted. I am so proud of our students and the organizers of our Culture Fest.

A celebration of identity is truly important when realizing the beauty of how we can interact and engage together to showcase talent, passion, and a desire to be accepted in our constantly changing society. We can be extremely proud of our district and who we are and the golden opportunity we have to offer something special to a remarkable and invaluable student body.

Wanting Discovery

I am that person you see every day,

in a coffee shop – caprice with friends,

at the prom, nervous,

in every crowd shot of each rite of passage,

walking to school,

waiting nearby,

the one that popped out of a crowd with a smile,

genuine and as easily drawn to cry as allow laughter.

 

I am that young man, woman, person, entity, enigma, peer,

sad face, happy expression,

tumultuous personality drawn to the drama,

in knowing I am always questioning who I might be,

I am that one counting upon the moment,

when my world crashes,

crumbles, unravels, unwinds the very sustenance of sanity,

who knows you will be there to catch me,

comfort me, offer solace, provide direction, allow failure

to return to a successful rendezvous

with reality.

 

Because I know you care.

 

I am the child,

now the young adult filled with a vigor for pronouncement,

yes, it is my time, to cock, to strut the walk, to corral the essence of time,

with a wish to be recognized,

to be now, finally, in this moment, after years of fear and trepidation,

to be understood.

 

I am eighteen, seventeen, nineteen years old,

I am that question,

son, daughter, neighbor, friend,

Somali, Latina, American unrecognized, white kid down the block,

African-American, in all beauty, all encompassing,

I am that Asian, Russian, Icelandic, Austrian child,

I am that person – please, hold me, and guide me,

let me thrive.

 

I am that teenager, that might not yet realize,

howsoever society defines,

I am that Graduate.

A Rising Fire

There’s a frightening reality exists around our lives

we’d like to believe it isn’t the panic our mind derives.

~

Yet, how else can we explain the mounting tension,

the averted eyes, the tarnished world we mention.

~

Would that it mattered our own lives hang in the balance

that we imagine we might never have to take a chance

~

at living on the edge, at realizing any moment we could

be sacrificed in the eyes of the majority that would.

~

If they might allow the world to crumble into mediocrity

than perhaps we ought to recognize some new civility.

~

I once believed that everyone could always get along

I didn’t know soon there’d be a man who didn’t belong.

~

A woman who might have tears at the loss of her own

ability to protect herself, after the stitches have been sewn.

~

I wonder about the man whose scrutiny became passe

until a friend or a colleague or a family – you know the way.

~

We are a populace of similar mind and quiet fortitude

so alike we would laugh if we ever embraced our attitude.

~

Take a minute to glance around you tonight, tomorrow, now,

see the world in a day as it stands nearby as societies allow.

~

We measure our lives too easily by the growing masses,

Little thought reminds us we are really quite the asses.

We Hold the Match

I feel responsible

in the quiet dark corner of my life,

I am the problem,

I carry the matches

to our powder keg we call America.

When I read about the color of your skin,

wonder about your safety,

wish you wouldn’t all be lumped together,

I seldom think about me,

never had to,

ever feel any responsibility beyond feeling lucky.

I am a lucky man,

with a lot of flints in my pockets,

ready to strike with my own personal naivety

Or, am I that clueless,

to imagine I cannot contribute to the melee,

the reality of our times,

in America.

The color of my skin,

offers me privilege,

haven’t had to think about it,

24/7.

I simply go forward,

yet, tonight, as I look at the constant protestations,

that disrupt the lives of our good citizenship,

no matter the color of any one or gathering group’s demeanor.

I am saddened tonight,

with the reality of my responsibility

I need to speak,

more often,

with more fervor,

more adamant,

with more unapologetic passion to suggest,

we are the individuals who need to begin to speak,

rather than rest on our own laurels,

believing we are doing right,

by sitting on our hands.

I cannot, no, will not, no, I simply must begin,

to rip my filtered head and eyes out of the sand.

I need to find the solution to extinguish the fires,

smoldering, in my apathy.

I need to recognize you before I can accept me.

Five Pictures, Five Photos – Day Five; On Diversity

Well, I missed the day, so this is an early morning contribution to the five days, five photos exercise that Dancing Echoes turned me on to a week ago. I will finish with one last piece. Again, the people I nominated to carry this out are Souldier Girl, Dana Renee, John Coyote & Ivon Prefontaine – all intriguing writers. My last nomination will be – Americana Injustica – Remember, you do not need to do this, just a suggestion if you feel like giving it a go. For me, it has brought my writing back to life after a bit of a drawl the last few weeks. Here we go, the last in my series …

diversity-scam

One thing is very clear, we have a long way to go,

how many times have we wondered how to be in the know,

where do we begin to imagine we can show

our true selves without really having to defend. A slow

reckoning does await our ability to be human.

I think it has been simmering for quite some time.

We seem to think if we look the other way,

then no one can really understand our confusion

is real,

qualify your reason,

stop pretending,

look me in the eye and tell me you believe it is so.

I chose a picture that spelled out the word,

diversity,

but there is something else,

insidious, clever, demeaning,

without revealing its true meaning.

The chips that grace the letters are a gamble.

In order to let go of ourselves and become the future.

We need to take that gamble,

but let’s recall,

that gambles are chance, and the odds are never good.

Let’s be real, let’s learn to love,

let’s go forward and try to understand,

the human condition is universal,

together.

Five Days, Five Photos – Day Four; On Diversity

( a continuance in a five day series inspired by Dancing Echoes )

Obama

Our president is Black,

I want to speak to that for a minute.

I remember the commentary,

the pundits, the wannabes,

Racism is over, the President is Black.

I laughed inside until the tears began.

I wondered how many years,

how many racial slurs,

when will our society finally recognize,

our diversity is reliant upon our

acceptance, awareness, ability to process,

our world is not going to remain the way it did,

in 1950 when you could pretend away change.

We can no longer avoid the reality of our lives …

Society is intense, social media will speak,

our people are together, all, without question, simply

human beings.

When will we ever figure that out?

Black President,

Ferguson controversy,

Baltimore atrocity,

daily renderings of diminished capacity.

Yes, I cannot call it anything else, beyond idiocy

on the part of our society.

So here’s my rant for the day,

I’m delighted we have the opportunity of

President Obama.

Let’s be realists and recognize the work ahead,

let’s try not to be skewed toward bandaids and kisses.

let’s look one another in the eye,

let’s smile,

together.

(tonight I would like to nominate ivonprefontaine to continue to five days, five stories plan)

Five Days, Five Photos – Day Three; On Diversity

Diversity

( a third installment inspired by Dancing Echoes )

The Key

a challenge to all of us around each other

all the time

during every moment of our lives

we might be

rather than the pose, the setup, the expectation,

what if we all just recalled ourselves,

instead of a reliance on being told to engage

how about if we simply become

a universal smile,

a unanimous integrity,

let’s allow the character of our inner soul

be the change,

the challenge,

let’s allow our lives to matter

off camera.

So often when we are

on

we seldom recognize the reason why.

When today we acknowledge one another,

let’s do so before they set the

light meter, the sound check, the make-up.

Let’s love each other today, so years from now when we reflect upon a photo,

we know how real we were that day,

helped us become who we are today,

together

(for today’s exercise in ‘five days, five photos’ I wish to select John Coyote whose words always inspire!

Five Days, Five Photos – Day Two; On Diversity

hands

© Ester Rogers photography

I have this notion, that if we could sometime just put all of our fears aside, and recognize one another for our beauty and grace, there wouldn’t be nearly as much anxiety in our lives. Perhaps I am speaking for myself, but I really do wonder. I know many years ago, a friend of mine told me that everyone walks around with relatively similar ideas rolling through their mind. He gave me that advice in a manner to suggest that instead of feeling alone all the time with our greatest worries, we might be better served to appreciate how many of us could share the same support with one another, and this positive energy could provide us a better life, sweeter outlook on our state of being.

I am using the picture above to recognize a photographer friend – Ester Rogers – who does wonderful work with her eye. Because I am writing about diversity with the inspiration of Dancing Echoes prompting, I thought this picture worthy of some words. You see, there is something quite beautiful about the weathered hands struggling to create the ‘love’ sign, the symbolic ‘I ‘heart’ you’ suggestion we so often put aside in our busy lives. I do genuinely love people, and wish only the best in their daily routines, even those I struggle to understand sometimes. This leads toward my theme of diversity.

I work in a diverse school district. I have opportunity everyday to experience many levels of cultural variety, that separate individuals while ironically bringing them together on a daily basis. I always look at our diversity as an opportunity. I walk around the school and see students with smiles and appreciations for each other and those are the moments I want to build upon. Those are the relationships that, given the strength to grow create a foundation for our district, our community to become something special – a place where everyone can realize their self-worth and carve out an identity buily upon positive tenets. I think that common denominator, no matter the deprecation, despite the stumbling blocks, however the obstacles, has to rely upon ‘love’ to be that basis for growth.

Tonight, I’m not writing a poem, this will be an essay as I conclude. In looking back at Ester’s picture though, I want to point out the harmony with the symbol of love, and the candle’s energy, the fire within. As long as we can keep that candle burning, and we can because we like to believe our heart and soul to be in the right place. As long as we can continue to recognize the powerful nature of that symbiotic nature of two dependent forces working towards a common goal, then I think we can look forward to beautiful lives ahead. I know that is idyllic.

Imagine a world without idealism. There wouldn’t be a tremendous need to hope and pray, for without the chance of magic and beauty and grace in our lives, we would be hard pressed to care about anything around us. But we do care, and it is our responsibility to continue to show compassion toward all things we find to be important in our lives. Tonight, namely showing acceptance and delight in the fortunes and gifts of everyone around us in our daily interactions. I think in order to be truly diverse, means our willingness to share those ideals rather than snuff them out in an idle and cold gasp of ego driven pride.

In respect to our nomination for the Five Days, Five Photos theme, I would like to now nominate another writing friend – Dana Renee – whose deep state of mind always intrigues … be well everyone!

Five Days, Five Photos: Day One – On Diversity

Hi everyone, I’m starting this challenge as inspired by an intriguing blogger – dancing echoes – who has provided much interest with her writing over the few months I have encountered her. Lately I have been looking for some trigger to get my writing back in motion. My work has seemed rather stale, and maybe this is the push I need to get my ideas flowing again. I’m choosing ‘Diversity’ as my caveat as that is of fundamental interest to me these days … the photoshop work below is that of Rebecca Moore – I credit her picture below, takes you directly to her site …

© Rebecca Moore

© Rebecca Moore

We wonder about sibling rivalry,

who bests the other with a glance,

a posture,

a family friend who prefers the other,

not me,

maybe you,

we can never really know, yet in a picture,

we might wonder why.

They both look quite endearing,

they are children,

the vulnerable souls,

yet we’re speaking about more tonight.

We talk of a new society,

a grouping of souls that get along,

understand one another,

or at least, at the very least,

they respect one another.

Yet when I glance at these two siblings,

the picture it suggests,

is one is there, in the forefront,

probably always has been,

and the other,

the young man we won’t know again in ten years,

well he might just be,

wondering how she became that focal point …

from that day on.

~

There’s my day one. I hope I did it right … I now nominate Souldier Girl and will see you tomorrow with my second installment …