white monkey buddhism.


guy was in like sixth or seventh grade, and he couldn't write for shit. he'd only been in the country four or five years, and i asked where he was from. ethiopia, he said. his sentences sucked ass. kid wrote shit like, if good for student to play all the tim to eat so the code be halthy. and meanwhile i was thinking like, damn, dude, you really need to learn some motherfucking english. but he didn't work with me, of course. instead, he spent his time looking around the room, at his other buddies who were all acting a fool. didn't matter if i helped him or not. look, do you wanna do this right now, i asked. he shook his head. alright then, fuck it.

i moved onto the next kid, another loud ass seventh grader. kid was trying to write a poem on buddhism and manumahan, or somebody, some white monkey from classic indian literature. he had to write a ghanza or ghanzal or something, some stupid poem where each line had to consist of ten syllables, and the last word of each couplet had to be the word buddhism. why buddhism? because that's what the damn kid picked. the little shit was like, here, read this, and tell me how to write the poem. i was like, trippin', bitch. i ain't reading shit. this is your assignment, so write it your damn self, you lazy shit.

the kid was taking hella days to just write a single line. instead, he'd get distracted and talk to his equally lazy friend. the friend would laugh and laugh at whatever this kid said, and then he'd tell the kid, dude, you're hella retarded. and as an educated adult, i knew i was supposed to intervene, tell him that the word retarded was inappropriate, not politically correct, downright offensive and all that, but simply put, there was no other way to describe his behavior. the kid was being hella retarded.

the kid stopped what he was doing, and he asked me if i thought weed should be legalized. absolutely, i said. his eyes grew big. why? hardly articulate, i told him how making drugs illegal didn't matter, that people were still going to do drugs, illegal or not, and that legalizing them would probably reduce violence, especially at the mexico-u.s. border, and so many young black and hispanic men wouldn't have to go to jail for so long for such trivial offenses. but i didn't even get all that out. it was more like, less violence, less people incarcerated. what did it matter what i thought, anyway? villains are always going to make that dollar somehow.

at one point, i was tired of that shit, tired of looking at these two boys who obviously didn't want to do their homework. do you ever ask what the point of it is, i asked. they looked up at me. the point of what? doing your homework, going to school. yeah, the kid said, we have to. it's required by law! it's because of no child left behind. do you know what no child left behind actually means, i asked. yeah, he said, and then he looked at me like i was retarded, it means no child left behind! you're a dumbass, his friend told him.

i told them what i knew about no child left behind. that it went into effect under the bush administration, and from what i had read and heard (mostly from disgruntled public school teachers) is that it took money away from schools that were under-performing. so, poor schools with poor children would submit poor standardized test scores, and with no child left behind, they'd manage to get even poorer, and probably even be forced to close. and that drives teachers away to find schools that have funding because, you know, people actually like getting paid! imagine that. but the kids didn't care what i had to say, obviously. they just wanted to finish their stupid homework so they could go home and look at internet porn.

i'm a bad tutor, and i should probably stop going. i think it's kind of funny, though. if i had met someone as disillusioned and hopeless as i am when i was a high school freshman, maybe it would've made me relax a little more. they've probably got their parents, teachers, school administration, pastors, neighbors, and everyone else shoving college down their throats, stressing their shit out, telling them they aren't trying hard enough. because that's the way people are in this country. if you're not stressed out, if you're not pushing yourself hard enough, if you don't have a five-year plan, if you don't get on track, you'll never be happy!

sure, i want these kids to succeed. that's why i go, isn't it? but when i leave, and i've left kids before, i don't know what's going to become of them. they might go onto harvard, they might become crackheads, or they might just become boring and average. in the meantime all i can do is just be real - at least, as real as i can be - with them.

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