6th Grade Epiphany

“Wait… We are the rose that Tupac is talking about in this poem…” Spoken in a calm voice, from a usually loud and opinionated student.

I will never forget this day. I was tutoring one day last year and I was sick and tired of hearing Lil Wayne and Lil Boosie quoted on a minute basis.

At one point, it had gotten so bad.. That one student could start a measure of a song and BOOM.. The whole class would erupt in a rap chorus…. But some of them couldn’t multiply 2×2… (Y’all its 4)

So I went out on a limb.. I said.. Raise your hand if you know who Tupac is…..?

Hands shot up.. Some even started quoting some of his most vicious songs.. Explaining that their parents listened to “Pac.” I then asked is Tupac a rapper or a poet? A Rapper they said.. “Poetry is lame.” I laughed.. Then asked.. Well does anyone in here know what RAP stands for (insert blank faces) RHYTHM and POETRY… (Insert shock) Once the shock faded I explained to them how Tupac was a beautiful poet and one of my favorite poems was The Rose that Grew From Concrete.

I made each student (15) read the poem aloud. Each student read with their own style, and their own emphasis on different words. It was beautiful.

After I asked.. Well what do you think this poem is about? I gave them a hint… “Look around.”

They sat in utter silence. After a few moments.. The student said “We are the roses..”

As these students face battles everyday… Some that I can’t even fathom.. They want a world that is outside the walls of their failing school, that stretches farther than the streets in their neighborhood. As their world seems to remind them everyday that they have fight physically to gain respect, that because they live in the “hood” they won’t ever amount to anything.. That having big dreams is just pillow talk.. They realized with this poem that they can grow from the most negative situations, something that seems so ugly.. Into something beautiful.

I truly believe in the fact that you can do anything you set your mind into doing. I feel that you can achieve great things if you have effort and support. I feel that everyone has the opportunity to be a rose.

Are we going to sit and let negativity discourage us and allow us to be apart of the concrete, or will we grow like the rose and use our negatives reasons to be a positive?

I suggest being the rose.