It was my good fortune this weekend to attend the National Writing Project’s 2010 Urban Sites Network conference, Writing Across the Margins: Illuminating Urban Voices. The Friday morning kick-off was pretty amazing:
By Any Medium Necessary – Oakland Leaf Youth Roots‘ interactive session on poetry is one I will remember for a long time to come. As I watched this articulate team of four students from the flat lands of Oakland – along side their teacher G. Reyes – make visible how new literacies were empowering them to challenge the long-standing acceptance in their community of “it is what it is,” it was clear to me that “passion” is the opposite of – and antidote for – becoming “inured.”
The decades of racism, poverty, and crime in the Oakland, California (where I was born), that have “inured” (SAT prep word of choice by the Youth Roots team: “transitive verb to make somebody used to something unpleasant over a period of time, so that he or she no longer is bothered or upset by it) its residents of color into accepting ‘what it is,’ is now being challenged by these young “word warriors” and “ARTivists,” who thanks to the passion ignited by G. Reyes, now believe that Oakland can become something better.
The evening entertainment of poets from Portland’s Jefferson high school and the samba drummers and dancers from a local middle school also stemmed from the passion of two teachers, committed to empowering the youth of their school communities to challenge “what it is.”
I realize that the opposite of any verb should also be a verb; however, the opposite of “inure” is “passion.”