My 7th grade class is full of “good” kids. In fact, you might even call them the “best” kids– if you believed in ranking children. These are the kids that did all their math worksheets without being asked. The kids that were reading with a flashlight by kindergarten. The kids whose immigrant parents told them every day that if they came home with less than an A, they were going to hear about it, and so was everyone on the block. The slipper was going to come out.
The Best Education Money can Buy Can’t Also Buy you Autonomy
These kids have already gotten far. By the 6th grade, they were accepted into TEAK Fellowship, which until 2019 accepted only 30 kids out of hundreds of applicants, to prime them for the best education money could buy. But in their case, the education would be free. It was an attempt to level the playing field, and put them in the circles where they belonged by their own merit.
But what to do when– because of your age, stage and developing personhood– your whole body is telling you you need to strike out on your own, take risks, be autonomous? And yet, here you are, in a Fellowship, in Family Systems, that expect a lot from you?
What’s rebelling against authority worth?
In their blood and bones, my kids understand what it is to rebel against authority. They may have read a lot about it, but most have never done it. That doesn’t mean they don’t know what it would taste like. Fizzzzzzzzzz and fire.
They might know– ancestrally, or because of the circles of oppression which they and their families navigate- what it means to have a colonizer breathing down your neck, making you pay at every turn for…for what?
They might know what it means to not be represented in a governing body. To have people speak for you who know nothing about you, and can’t handle your hair. To see that the dominant system does not have your best interests at heart, nor is able to pronounce (or remember) your last name. Gomez or Gonzalez? Whatever!** (When I married a Gonzalez, I got lots of packages addressed to Sara Gomez). To associate you with tacos, rarely Tesla.
The Task: Write about a time you (almost) spoke out!
Against this backdrop, we asked them, and now I ask you, to write about a time they considered rebelling against authority, rejecting that authority, speaking out. What was at stake? What would be worth the risk? What happened? Why did they speak– or not?
You could have heard an ñ drop.
Later, after most students shared their freewrites aloud, we looked for commonalities, the kind of thing you do in a Humanities class or, say, to write a middle school MUTHALOOSE manifesto. Here’s what we came up with. It’s a Bill of Rights, of sorts, too. And now we want to see yours.
We (the people!) rebel/reject authority BECAUSE:
–we are intolerant of unequal treatment
–our critical consciousness tells us things should be different
–we are more brave than we are afraid of consequences
–we understand our priorities
–we have a strong belief we can make a change
–we have a strong sense of humanity and belonging
–brought to you by Brooklyn Humanities Winter 2020 (this also represents their thoughts on why colonists might also have rejected Big Daddy England).
Prompt: On (rejecting) Authority
If possible, find a place that makes you feel like writing. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Write about a time you stood up to, or considered standing up to, authority. What was at stake?
Describe the situation in depth, including your inner thoughts and outer actions. What happened? What could have happened? If you could do it over, would you do the same thing?
Can’t Quite Nail it? Want feedback?
Great, contact us. We’re nosy and we love helping people find their freedom through language, and basically sit around waiting for essays to land in our inbox*. Whether you’re developing an application essay or not, feedback can help you say what you mean and write something that matters.
*not true at all but can you tell our small children that would be awesome?