Doin' good in the 'hood
Posted November 1, 2007 10:52 pm (about 2740 days ago)Yesterday my school was fortunate to have Ilana Weaver AKA Invincible stop through and do a couple of workshops for our students. As a performer, she’s world famous and done shows and worked with the likes of Talib Kweli and Eminem as a member of the Anomalies hip-hop crew. But while her music résumé is impressive enough, I actually invited her to come speak due to her work with Detroit Summer, a community organization that tackles issues such as poverty and urban farming. Among their projects is a recent CD titled the “Chronicles of a Drop Out” that addresses problems of the pubic education system. I've already used portions of the CD in my classes, which is made easier by curriculum that Invincible provided.
I hadn’t seen her in nearly a decade, dating back to shows at the University of Michigan student union and the Phat House in Detroit. We reconnected last week at a panel she was on at Stanford University with Bakari Kitwana’s Rap Sessions program. I was impressed with what she had to say, but beyond that, we have mutual friends back in The D so it was good to vibe over the commonality. It’s funny how things come full circle.
As minor as it may sound, I have to give her respect for the great communication as we put these workshop together and showing up on time. We were literally stood up the day before by some other guests and my students like to joke that our invited local guest from the Bay can be a crap shoot. Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don’t. They’re pretty leery of adults, to no surprise, and we've often had better luck with our out of state guests. Invincible showed up in plenty of time and dived right in.
Her first workshop revolved around restorative justice, which basically means balancing out punitive responses to crimes with actions that rebuild the community, lead to learning, and building relationships. The workshop was very interactive and including jeopardy, small group work, discussion, and she even drop a couple of rhymes. Initial student feedback was very positive and one said that “we should have more guests like that.”
Her second workshop was a writing one helping ninth graders in our after school music program. I actually don’t work with the program this year, but the students definitely seemed to be engaged.
Afterwards we had a great conversation that left me with a lot of good stuff to think about. Among other things, continuing with ways to continue building bridges between activists, artists, educators, and others, when our roles don't overlap. I've worked with or spoke with too many artists who sell selves as activists but have stood our students up and mysteriously disappeared and didn’t return messages when the actual date arrived. We always offer some sort of compensation and the impact on the students is immeasurable. It's pretty disappointing. On that last note, my respect for Ilana as a person, and Invincible as an artist, has gone up substantially. I definitely hope we can continue to build!
Invincible spits video 1
Invincible spits video 2