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The 8:30 Rival Street Gang

May 25, 2012
Gang Tattoos

I’m in the 8:30 Rival Street Gang. We’re all about remembering our dentist appointments.

Gangs in New Orleans are no joke. I have several students who are openly gang members. There are neighborhood gangs and nationwide gangs. And there are 18-year-old 8th graders who throw up gang signs in class like they’re going out of style. One of my quiet students is getting pulled into a gang. I talked to him about it at length one morning. He claims he just walks places with them and hangs out and does stuff. Uh, isn’t that being in the gang? I tried to explain to him that we become who we associate with, even unintentionally. And that stray bullets find targets. And that once he’s in, he’s IN. There is no getting out. There is only getting dead. As a teacher I consider myself lucky. I have not had to bury any of my kids this year unlike many teachers across New Orleans.

This morning, I called the dentist to see about the throbbing ghost tooth pain from getting my wisdom tooth pulled last week. They can see me at 8:30. Because I have to write something down to remember it, I used a Sharpie and drew 830 on my hand.

One of my previously (several times over) incarcerated students who has a murder charge from when he was 12 noticed my hand. This is a student who has paralyzed a kid with a bullet, steals cars, sells drugs, gets his face kicked in from running from the cops, but he is also brilliant, quick-witted, a great thinker, and trying his best to turn himself around.

“Ms. Summers! You in a gang! The 8:30 Rival Street Gang!”

“Who they beefin’ with?”

“The 8:59 boys! You know, like they late for school at 9! And you never is!”

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