Two hours of tutoring on north side of town at an after-school program. I hadn’t traveled to this part of town, and I realized after passing through the area I felt at ease, that I recognized this space. I remember the South, and I remember that feeling of marginalized space. This was something like El Barrio, and also something like Foraker Street.
I met a few teachers as I entered the wrong school first.
“Go up the road there, turn at that old chicken place, it’s yellow, turn there, and there’s where you’ll tutor. I’ll put a call in and tell them to expect you.”
I drove there, and as I was directed to the library. While waiting, a teacher took me to a classroom, a behavior classroom, to give a teacher a hand. I was led from there back to the library. I suppose the students in this room I went to were some of the “bad” students at the school. I spoke with them, they asked me if I was Chinese. I told them Mexican. One young girl asked, really? Do you speak Spanish?
A couple of smiles from the Latinos. Most of the students were Black. They were more interested in me for living in New York City.
“Did anyone ever put a gun to you to shoot you?”
“No. Someone had a knife once though.”
Whoa from a few students.
“Yeah, it was pretty scary. But then he saw I was poor so he let me go.”
Somebody laughed, “he poor” I heard. I recall the AAVE modal.
There was a small skirmish between one Latina and another student. She called him fun. “Fun,” and he told the teacher. She girl said, what, I said he was funny.
“No! miss!” one student shouted. “F-U-N means fun. Fun means F-U-N.”
“Oh no, we won’t have that, we won’t have that . . .”
I noticed time on the clock moved very slow in this classroom.
Later I was brought back to the library. The woman who gave me directions earlier came and pulled me out of that classroom. “When you come here to tutor, you don’t go there, just go to the library.”
“Oh, well I went where they brought me.”
“Well just go to the library,” she said.
I went to the library. I helped two students with homework. One kindergarten boy and a girl in fifth grade. I did some math with both. Next time I’m to work with a student learning English, she’s from Mexico.