Archive for October, 2011

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The Tale of Two Brothers

October 25, 2011

It was all good more than a decade ago...


In my first activism class, a student talked about missing the void of her sister who is now lost in her own world. I was reminded of my own brother. Last year, I was planning to write a speech about my brother and myself for the Beat the Odds 2010 award dinner. I wanted to write about how united we once were and how we drifted apart.

My younger brother and I were two peas in a pod. We hung out together outside. We played together outside. We played video games together. We played card games together. Since our parents weren’t invested in our lives, all we had was each other. I comforted him when my father fought my mom. I took him places to get his mind off the drama at home. Most of my youth, I was with him. I led by example by doing well in school. I lectured him on how education was his way out.

Once our sister grew up, I thought my brother would step up as I did for him. I thought he would led by example. Just before I went away to college, I started to see him fall apart. He went into high school with girls on his mind, not looking for a way out. He wouldn’t spend time with his sister. He would always kick her out of his room. He started to do horrible in school. My parents would call me to get me to talk to him about his academics and disrespectful behavior at home.

It got to the point where I said what I thought I would never say. I told him, “I’m not going waste my breath with you if you’re not even going to try.” I was sick of talking to him about his disregard for himself and others. I was sick of telling him how he was heading towards the road of our father. He was sick of me lecturing him. I learned that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I proceeded to tell him, “There are other young people out there who aren’t going to waste my breath, my time.” I didn’t close the door fully on him though. I told him, “When you’re ready to be helped, when you’re ready to hear me speak, I will always be here for you.”

My brother thought life was easy. He thought he could just get a job, move out and provide for himself. He told me this. In what seemed like a final appeal without his asking, I tried to explain how it wasn’t that simple. That appeal just fell on deaf ears.

He didn’t finish high school when he only had a few classes left. He lives with my father. He is unemployed. He lies to and steals from family members. Barely anyone would talk to him, let alone trust him. He got in trouble with the Law a few times over silliness on his part. My sister, who has her own issues, thinks he’s a joke. How can you comfort someone when you don’t even have your own stuff together and refuse to do so?

Sometimes I wonder what made him be this way. Sometimes I wonder why he refuses to better himself despite facing the realities of his current home life. Why doesn’t he want to be a positive example for his sister in her time of need? Why does when it seem like there is light in the lamp, it ends up being my eyes playing tricks on me? I cry when I ponder these things.

It hurts me that we rarely talk now. It hurts me that he chooses to suffer on the side of the road rather than take a ride in my car to empowerment. It’s not too late for him. He’s only 19. I still have hope for him. I still pray for him. If there’s one thing I learned these past few years, it is that for some, experience is the best teacher. I pray that the Lord brings my brother his rude awakening. I pray that the Lord shows him the way off the side of the road.

I believe in him. The banner for this blog was created by him. I see promise in my brother. The fire is in him, deep in him. I’ve seen it. He’s a very smart kid. He could be more successful than I ever will be. But I think he isn’t sure that is possible. If there is one thing he can be sure of, it is that I will be there for him when he wants to make a positive change.

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Creating Agents of Change

October 16, 2011


Yesterday, I taught my first class on Activism. It was interesting because just as I was running out of stuff to say, the discussion moved to religion. Sure, this class isn’t about that, but this was the first class. I love it when discussions take on a mind of their own. I was moved and inspired by what the high school students talked about. I didn’t except to have a Youth Ministry meeting. These kids have a lot of spirit. I’m really excited about the rest of the year. I just ask God to move me in the right direction with this class. Check out the syllabus below.

“Agent of Change”
Pace University Upward Bound
Brother Danny Tejada
2011-2012

Agent of Change is a class on activism. Learn what activism is with various readings from past and present activists. The class will also consist of discussions, videos, guest speakers talking about their work, writing a letter to President Obama and public speaking about the issues you care about the most. It is led by Danny Tejada, a 2005 Upward Bound graduate. His activism career started in Skidmore College after being inspired by his winning of a scholarship called Beat the Odds in high school. The following is subject to change.

October 15th
• Introductions
• Why are we in this class?
• What is Activism?
• Program Ballot (Alinsky, Saul David. Reveille for Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989. 128. Print.)
• Homework: Bobo, Kimberley A., Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max. “The Fundamentals of Direct Action Organizing.” Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists. 3rd ed. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks, 2001. 8-13. Print.

October 22nd
• Dressing for the crowd
• Discussion about reading
• Homework: Alinsky, Saul David. “What Is a Radical?” Reveille for Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989. 3-23. Print.

October 29th
• The Price of Being a Radical
• Discussion about reading
• Homework: Bobo, Kimberley A., Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max. “Choosing an Issue.” Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists. 3rd ed. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks, 2001. 22-27. Print.

November 5th
• Issues and Causes
• Exercise: Bobo, Kimberley A., Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max. “Choosing an Issue.” Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists. 3rd ed. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks, 2001. 28. Print.
• Homework: Alinsky, Saul David. “The Program.” Reveille for Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989. 55-63. Print.

November 12th
• Creating a Program
• Discussion about reading
• Program ideas
• Homework: Alinsky, Saul David. “A Word about Words.” Rules for Radicals: a Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989. 48-62. Print.

December 3rd
• What did we think about the words mentioned in the reading before reading?
• What do we think now?
• My experience with these words
• Homework: Alinsky, Saul David. “Communication.” Rules for Radicals: a Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989. 81-97. Print.

December 10th
• Reaching people where they are and how they like to be reached
• Discussion about reading

December 17th
• Time management
• Homework: Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, and Jones Gareth. Stedman. “Bourgeois and Proletarians.” The Communist Manifesto. London: Penguin, 2002. 219-33. Print.

February 4th
• Research (Library and internet)
• Revisiting issues and causes: Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party and The Communist Manifesto.
• Homework:
-Kennedy, Robert F., and Norman MacAfee. “The Other America.” The Gospel According to RFK: Why It Matters Now. New York: Basic, 2008. 39-45. Print.
Stiglitz, Joseph E. “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.” Vanity Fair, 6 Apr. 2011. Web. 6 Oct. 2011.

February 11th
• Modern/1st World Poverty
“Hard times Generation Homeless Kids.” 60 Minutes – CBS News, 15 Mar. 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
• Discussion about reading
• Homework:
Buffett, Warren E. “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” New York Times, 14 Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
Cohen, Patricia. “‘Culture of Poverty’ Makes a Comeback.” New York Times, 17 Oct. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.

February 25th
• Guest Speaker
• Homework: Vargas, Jose A. “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” New York Times, 22 June 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.

March 17th
• A Country of Immigrants
• Discussion about reading
• Homework: Paul, Ron. “The Foreign Policy of the Founding Fathers.” The Revolution: a Manifesto. New York, NY: Grand Central Pub., 2009. 9-39. Print.

March 24th
• War Aboard; Suffering at Home
• Discussion about reading

March 31st
“Seizing Justice: The Greensboro 4.” Smithsonian, 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
• Homework: -A letter to the President
-Write an outline for your own letter

April 21st
• Letter writing
• Homework: Write one single spaced letter to the President

April 28th
• Peer reviews of letters
• Homework: Revise your letter

May 5th
• Hand in letters (original and revised)
• Get to know each other
• Homework: Bobo, Kimberley A., Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max. “Being a Great Public Speaker.” Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists. 3rd ed. Santa Ana, CA: Seven Locks, 2001. 140-54. Print.

May 19th
Tejada, Danny. “Beating the Odds.” 29 Sept. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2011.
• Q & A on speaking
• Homework: Write a one single spaced speech on a topic important to you

June 9th
• One on one role playing recruitment
• Homework: have someone revise your speech. Rewrite it. Practice!

June 16th
• Giving speeches (dress up!)
• Students rate each other 1 to 5 on Delivery, Clarity, Mood, Content, Body language and answer the questions: what stood out the most? What could be worked on?
-Students will be emailed rating average and these comments
• Program Ballot (Alinsky, Saul David. Reveille for Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989. 128. Print.)

Contacting Brother Danny:
DanielTejadaJr@hotmail.com
Facebook.com/AboutThePeople
Twitter.com/AboutThePeople

Have a great summer!
Stay strong. Keep it pushing.
Peace be on to you, brothers and sisters!
God Bless!