The Power of Story: A scene from 2010

Last month I began going to the local continuation high school at the end of the day for drop-in writing sessions. The Wednesday before winter break, two African American students showed up. We talked about books and school for a bit, then I gave them each a sheet of binder paper, a pencil and we began. I tossed out some 2 minute writing prompts: “door,” “happiness,” “second grade.”

They both made involuntary little gasps with that last prompt, then began furiously writing.

Here’s E.A.

2nd grade was a tough year. Not for me, but for outsiders. Those who didn’t fit in. Weren’t cool. 2nd grade I loved to rule the school. Be the boss. You either stood behind me or bside me, but never in front. I was dominant. And I did what I want. 2nd grade I had a little brother to watch over. You mess with him, you mess with me. But I swear I wasn’t a bully. Just a girl trying to find her voice. Just wanting to be heard, because as soon as school got out, I was ignored.

And this is from D.H. (who happens to have an infant at home):

Second grade is the worse grade, the grade i was transformed into a mean slime ball, the grade I was teased in, the grade I almost got kidnapped in, the grade where I became stressed, the grade where I set my life goals, the grade I moved to North Carolina, the grade Imet new people, the grade that I cried the most in, the grade I experienced a drunk driver, the grade I got into a car with a 12 year old, the grade I felt stranded, the grade that made me hurt, the grade I felt unusual pain, the grade I had to repeat.

Writing down our stories matters – finally, a chance to be heard.

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