WritersBeat.com
 

Go Back   WritersBeat.com > Write Here > Non-Fiction

Non-Fiction Journals, biographies, memoirs, etc.


Growing Up As A Free Child

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 07-11-2012, 09:29 AM
bicyclingfish (Offline)
Intellectually Fertile
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Olympia, Washington
Posts: 161
Thanks: 91
Thanks 45
Icon1 Growing Up As A Free Child


"Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child." - A. S. Neil


With early roots as a free child, I have lived fortunately despite all appearances. There were a lot of challenges throughout my early life, true, but none of those were unique. Its the sum of the parts that make me unique, and make me who I am today.

A long childhood marked by transitions of all sorts, my white, half-Canadian/half-Montanan family eventually settled in an unendingly unsettled African American neighborhood in the Midwest. This is what formed my identity as a young person. Almost 20 years later I am still trying to let the meaning of the extreme differences between my world and the world I lived in make sense. It still doesn't.

As a 10-year-old in a black school, my cowboy boots and corduroy pants clashed with the Air Jordans and parachute pants around me. Feeling alien among my peers as a teen climaxed when I was 19, when I got my first “green card” to let me to work legally in the US. I felt challenged at every turn, even on the block where I lived. Constantly different than the basketballers, gang members, latchkey kids, and drug dealers I grew up around, I only knew difference.

All these realities created some of the boundaries that formed my identity as a young person. They also marked my identity as a border crosser, legally or illegally, spoken and unspoken. The identities of white, poor, academically challenged, depressed, angry, confused, and unfocused hung on my neck like placards waiting their turn. Exacerbated by a steady stream of popular culture and mainstream media, my labels also included the branding forced onto my generation. We were supposed to be either apathetic or hyper-violent, with little room in between. I wore all these titles heavily, and they stayed around for a long, long time.

Luckily, somewhere along the way they didn’t stick too closely to my skin. Despite hearing the mantra, “You just need to apply yourself” repeatedly from my teachers, I didn’t do that in school. Instead, I applied myself outside of school. Youth leadership programs, volunteer opportunities, and other service activities dominated my high school life. I volunteered at the food bank where my family got food when my dad told me to, and I played Santa Claus at the elementary school my younger sisters attended. Over and over, I shook off the berating social conception of who everyone thought I should be by doing what I wanted to do, following my own inner guidance, and listening to the direction of adults in my life who respected me, and who I respected.

When it came time for me to get a job with my new green card, I started working at a nonprofit in my neighborhood. After spending several summers working in an empowerment-oriented drama program with the city's premier African American actor and director, I knew that I wanted to spend my life working for youth empowerment. I had some early experiences of what that empowerment felt like, and I wanted to share it with others. Since then I have done exactly that.

This is how I grew up a free child. The experiences I had before I was 20 formed the trajectory that I've followed for the rest of my life. An entrepreneur focused on changing the world for everyone in it, I have founded organizations, led movements, written books, and traveled the globe in the name of social justice. I continue to live the extent of Neil's prescription, dismissing fear as readily as it arrives and springing forth every day to do the work that should be done by me!

__________________
Some of my poetry and short stories are online at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Last edited by bicyclingfish; 07-16-2012 at 08:45 AM.. Reason: Edit welcoming note
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-14-2012, 03:49 PM
courtney_autumn (Offline)
Word Wizard
Official Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ann Arbor
Posts: 579
Thanks: 258
Thanks 154
Default

I know you had an interesting, unusual childhood and I want to know more about it. That's why it's so frustrating reading this piece that you seem to gloss over so much! You list all of these things that happened, all of these hardships and adventures, in these broad, sweeping strokes but it makes it hard to care unless you take me into these experiences with you. When you are the minority in the classroom, I want to feel what that's like. When you talk about all the labels put on you, I want to know who said these things and when and where, and how did you react? You say your volunteer work shaped you – what happened when you were volunteering, who did you meet, what conversations did you have, or observations did you make that influenced you?

I don't know what context this piece of writing is meant for, so that might make a difference. If it's meant to be an introduction to all of these smaller stories, it would work for that. However, as a stand alone, there's something kind of clinical and generic about the way it's written. It feels like you are teasing the reader by mentioning all of these stories that happened to you, without telling the actual stories. I want the stories
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to courtney_autumn For This Useful Post:
bicyclingfish (07-14-2012)
  #3  
Old 07-14-2012, 05:16 PM
bicyclingfish (Offline)
Intellectually Fertile
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Olympia, Washington
Posts: 161
Thanks: 91
Thanks 45
Icon1

Originally Posted by courtney_autumn View Post
It feels like you are teasing the reader by mentioning all of these stories that happened to you, without telling the actual stories. I want the stories
Oh, I'm a teaser.

And I will remember the idiom "Show, don't tell" over and over. Show, don't tell; show, don't tell.

Thanks for the reminder.
__________________
Some of my poetry and short stories are online at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-14-2012, 06:47 PM
Cityboy (Offline)
Still Clicking!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,679
Thanks: 32
Thanks 185
Default

Well written. Interesting life. Wonderful work.

Last edited by Cityboy; 07-16-2012 at 10:37 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-14-2012, 07:16 PM
bicyclingfish (Offline)
Intellectually Fertile
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Olympia, Washington
Posts: 161
Thanks: 91
Thanks 45
Icon1

Thanks for your reply Shelly. I take umbrage at one thing though.

Originally Posted by Shelly View Post
Only correction I'd make is with the word "free." I don't believe there's a free person on our planet.
About life, Nelson Mandela once wrote that, "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires."

Don't try to take my freedom away. No matter what I write, you don't know what I've been through or what freedom means to me. Some smarmy rock star once sang, "Outside are the prisoners, inside are the free." That's where I am free, and nobody can ever take away from me.
__________________
Some of my poetry and short stories are online at
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-15-2012, 04:33 AM
Cityboy (Offline)
Still Clicking!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,679
Thanks: 32
Thanks 185
Default

You do wonderful work, with and without the pen.

Last edited by Cityboy; 07-15-2012 at 01:06 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-15-2012, 05:31 PM
Nick Pierce's Avatar
Nick Pierce (Online)
Samuel Johnson, obviously!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 7,550
Thanks: 2,100
Thanks 1,387
Default

Deleted

Last edited by Nick Pierce; 07-19-2012 at 04:05 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-15-2012, 08:28 PM
maidahl
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I'm with Nick. People are free to go crazy. People can do what they like; they just don't really want to. And @Nick: Are you quoting Morehouse because you went there? Didn't MLK go there?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-16-2012, 02:31 AM
Nick Pierce's Avatar
Nick Pierce (Online)
Samuel Johnson, obviously!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 7,550
Thanks: 2,100
Thanks 1,387
Default

deleted

Last edited by Nick Pierce; 07-19-2012 at 04:06 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-16-2012, 04:57 AM
Cityboy (Offline)
Still Clicking!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,679
Thanks: 32
Thanks 185
Default


Last edited by Cityboy; 07-16-2012 at 10:38 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-16-2012, 07:14 AM
goldieloo's Avatar
goldieloo (Offline)
Pencil pusher
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 19
Thanks: 1
Thanks 5
Default

I don't see what all that freedom-defining has to do with what he's written, and I hate to be redirected from bicycling fish's idea of the free childhood- it's lovely, especially if you read that quote with some cutesy technicolor 'children in the meadow' image, and then go on to read the much grittier reality of what he meant. That might not have been the first thing to pop into everyone's mind, but I really liked that it turned my first idea upside down and still meant the same thing.

courtney-autumn is right! I would like to see your childhood as you saw it, less summarized. I grew up in rural South Carolina. I want- I was going to say Montana, but that's where half your family was from. Where exactly did you end up? I want to see it through little half-Canadian eyes
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to goldieloo For This Useful Post:
bicyclingfish (07-16-2012)
  #12  
Old 07-16-2012, 08:55 AM
Cityboy (Offline)
Still Clicking!
Official Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,679
Thanks: 32
Thanks 185
Default

Originally Posted by goldieloo View Post
I don't see what all that freedom-defining has to do with what he's written, and I hate to be redirected from bicycling fish's idea of the free childhood- it's lovely, especially if you read that quote with some cutesy technicolor 'children in the meadow' image, and then go on to read the much grittier reality of what he meant. That might not have been the first thing to pop into everyone's mind, but I really liked that it turned my first idea upside down and still meant the same thing.

courtney-autumn is right! I would like to see your childhood as you saw it, less summarized. I grew up in rural South Carolina. I want- I was going to say Montana, but that's where half your family was from. Where exactly did you end up? I want to see it through little half-Canadian eyes
I agree with you. I'll keep my beliefs to myself. Sorry to mar such a wonderful and beautifully written post..

Last edited by Cityboy; 07-16-2012 at 09:06 AM..
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Cityboy For This Useful Post:
bicyclingfish (07-16-2012)
  #13  
Old 07-16-2012, 01:07 PM
goldieloo's Avatar
goldieloo (Offline)
Pencil pusher
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 19
Thanks: 1
Thanks 5
Icon7

It was an interesting standpoint. Maybe deserving of its own thread?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-16-2012, 07:27 PM
alidizzy247 (Offline)
Let me introduce myself
New Author
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 5
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default

I dont know much about non-fiction, but to me this seems pretty good.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-19-2012, 03:51 PM
rebekahmichel's Avatar
rebekahmichel (Offline)
Copyist
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 42
Thanks: 22
Thanks 4
Default

very interesting, I would like to know more about what it was like to be the only kid in a black school who wore cowboy boots.
__________________
Website:
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

A Memoir of drugs, mental illness, and abuse.

Last edited by luckyme; 07-19-2012 at 11:29 PM.. Reason: No need to quote the whole piece to reply like you did.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  WritersBeat.com > Write Here > Non-Fiction


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Free will Jinjonator Scripts 2 08-29-2011 12:26 PM
The Christdolou Gambit/Double Standard richards89 Fiction 3 06-07-2011 05:02 PM
Mega Biography Test #1 epoch Non-Fiction 1 05-17-2011 03:53 AM
Raising Children With Love- Prologue raylynn Free Writing 20 09-17-2010 03:39 AM
ABCs (and more) Cityboy Writers' Cafe 18 08-10-2009 10:27 AM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:54 PM.

vBulletin, Copyright 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.