Updated: Oct 27, 2021
What's up everybody, it's your boy Ahmaad Lewis coming to you with a youth perspective....
Back at the start of the pandemic, when schools closed all over the country, my mom (Sonia Lewis) came up with this idea to educate scholars on Black history and different topics that are not typically taught in school. It is called "Teach-In Time fro Revolutionary Minds." My first thought was here we go again, my mom is always doing the most....just because she used to be a teacher - and I stress used to be - now she want to be my/our teacher. But after the first session, I can honestly say, my mom is pretty dope. Young people like myself, from all over the country were logging into this class she created. Who would have thought?
In the middle of all of the confusion with my and most schools all over this country, we had the "Teach-In," where we learned about so many people, places, incidences, laws, rebellions, and triumphs....who were Black and looked like me. In the middle of this big confusing storm due to the pandemic, where the expectation was for me to still achieve at high levels, I had the "Teach-In." I can remember being assigned work and having to work alone to complete these assignments, it was as if I was teaching myself....and then we'd log into the "Teach-In." I can also remember how I'd look forward to our mental health check-ins, breathing exercises, dance breaks, and eye yoga. She made space for us to lead conversations, process topics amongst ourselves, and feel all of the feels and emotions of what it means to be Black in America. AND....there was no expectation in our performance being a certain, cookie cut, regurgitated, memorized thing. We had the freedom to analyze, question, process, and internalize the information in our own way.
For my siblings and I, it was 4 of us at home - 2 in elementary, 1 in middle, and myself in high school; plus our older brother, who was in his first year of college. My mom was out of her mind with the uncertainty of what the school had us doing so she not only created this class, but she put together a list of online resources that she shared out with other parents, educators and the media. Days after schools closing, my mom's program was up and running with curriculum she had written, and a simple share on her FB page. Within a couple of weeks, new students were logging into our virtual classroom and everyone just fit in. Early in the process, my original thoughts of, "Ugh, why does my mom have to be that mom," quickly disappeared.
She established a solid routine - middle and high school students would meet weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the elementary group met weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays. I never imagined a virtual world, but everything was done over Zoom and kids from all over the United States ready to learn. For the first month, each session started with the song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" - the Black National Anthem. She made sure we were exposed to more than just the likes of Martin, Malcom and Rosa - she introduced us to the Black lived experience in the United States.
Learning about people and the significance of their lives, like but not limited to Maggie Lena Walker, Marcus Garvey, African tribes, Black Wallstreet, Jean-Michael Basquiat, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and Morrie Turner - scientist, mathematicians, writers, artist, musicians and freedom fighters. I had never heard of these people and I now know why it is important to study the past. If it was eye-openning for me, I know it was for my peers as well. The "Teach-In" gave most us a new perspective on the world and why things are the way they are now. The first session of the Teach-In went from March to August, with special sessions for Kwanza, MLK Day, Black History Month, Malcolm X Day and Juneteenth. When we ended the first round of the Teach-In, we started learning about home gardening, food sovereignty, food deserts, and racial capitalism. Most of the kids, in both the elementary and middle/high school groups started their own home gardens. When we started our garden, we'd make quick videos to keep the rest of the crew up to date on our progress. The elementary group was extra excited about the garden lessons.
As my mom started planning the summer session, I was surprised when she asked my opinion and if I would be willing to write a Blog for the business. She had already made my siblings and I paid employees of ASCRIBE, as Brand Warriors and part of the sells team when there were vendor opportunities in the community. She wanted to know if kids learned about the Stock Market, what would help them actually use what they learned in real life. I was like, that's easy....MONEY!!! Then I watched her go to work. My mom has this way of making a compelling argument and then people just agree, sign up, and donate. I overheard her say, she wanted to give each student who participated in the summer program $100 and that she had a goal of serving 100 students. I did the math in my head and was like, no one is going to give her $10,000....but I was wrong.
After the teach-in ended, we knew that another session of learning needed to be done consisting of new topics such as the stock market. As of right now, us scholars in the middle and high school group are learning about the kind of tips and tricks you need when dealing with the stock market so that they can make money and grow it for their future. One goal of the teach-in is to give 100 dollars to 100 kinds so they can begin investing in the stock market. This is a great way to make sure that kids will have the opportunity to grow money for their future.
In terms of the next teach-in, I hope that we continue to learn about topics that will affect our communities, schools, and the whole world. I hope that we are able to find a way to get homeless people off the streets and find people jobs because of the unemployment in the world.
Now, I cannot wait until the new Teach-In starts...not just because, in the end, we will all be given $100 to invest in our own futures, but because I can honestly say I learned a lot the first time around.
REST OF BLOG IS COMING SOON!!!