Friday, May 29, 2009

Wake Up

by Jack Cartier

Going to Claremont has served to make me more aware of what goes on around me. At the beginning of sixth grade, I was under the impression that every little boy and girl had a nice mommy and daddy to go home to every night. Obviously, I was very sheltered. I was severely antisocial, so I didn’t really have many interactions with people. When my friend told me in sixth grade that his dad had just gone to jail, I was skeptical. After all, doesn’t that stuff only happen to people you don’t know? Isn’t it only the “bad guys” that go to jail? That was when I first learned about courtrooms and people telling lies on the witness stand.

Then one day in seventh grade, my friend Jacob was looking very upset. When I asked him what the matter was, he told me that his brother had just been killed. It was the first time I had ever heard of someone I had connections with dying. This was new. Now I knew that killing wasn’t something you only read about in the newspapers. I began to rethink the whole nice mommy and daddy idea.

In eighth grade, I got Ms. Thaler for English. After I finished my Literature Circles book, The Book Thief, she recommended the Freedom Writers book to me. There were lots of stories of kids in trouble, abusive parents, alcoholism, addiction issues, and other stories of hardship. It made a huge impact on me. I know those kids were in Los Angeles, but it still made me think about what might be happening to some of my friends. I know for a fact at least some of them have serious issues at home. It’s what people don’t tell that can be the worst.

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to dinner with my friend, Malek, and one of our old classmates that I hadn’t seen in five years. During the conversation, I realized that staying with the same thirty people for nine years had not done much for their social awareness. I gradually realized that, before that night, they had never heard the word “bruh!” Apparently, all the things that I now considered normal hadn’t caught on at the French school. In the conversation, Lauren told me that Zoe, another classmate, would be the one person from my old school going to Oakland Tech. Malek and Lauren told me she was even more “innocent” than they were. Thanks to the Freedom Writers and the dinner, I now understand a lot about what goes on around me.


Jessica S. said...

I'm very impressed that you are so aware of the world at such a young age. It took me almost 25 years before I understood some of the things you write about!

Skolnik said...

Wow. Powerful writing. Powerful insights into your community. And a testimony to what good literature and the writing by other young people can do! Thank you for sharing this.