"Smart is the New Gangsta": Profiling Kevin | Not in Our Town

"Smart is the New Gangsta": Profiling Kevin

For Black History Month, we share this video, "Profiling Kevin," featuring a young man whose passion for racial and social justice leads him to engage his teachers and classmates about issues of diversity and equality in his school and community. Standing in a classroom at Palo Alto High School, 16-year-old Kevin tells his classmates, "We need to ... take a bite of the apple of knowledge and realize where we stand and where we need to go."


Kevin's story is not unusual in terms of his feelings and interpretations of his experiences. It is unusual in its frankness and in its honesty. That there is a safe space for him to both "explore and express" is remarkable in itself--and it is indicative of the state of too many schools--because it is OK to ask how things can be so bad and so good at the same time. There is truth in Kevin's assessment about who has membership in the communities we call schools, and those truths should propel or fuel all of us in our attempts to create true and equitable learning communities. And there is hope as well, because it is in that very environment that Kevin is also most able to discover what he thinks, to skillfully express and share it, and to contribute to other students' and teachers' understandings.  

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comment. I like the idea of thinking about the school as a safe space where individual students can explore equality. Why do you think this sort of frankness is unusual in other schools?

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