Listen to these West Oakland youth describe their personal experiences with gun violence. These audio clips are from the exhibit entitled 'We Had to Say No" held at West Oakland Middle School.
This project is the culmination of students learning how to listen. Active listening is a skill, and as our students developed this skill it opened up space for their peers to share their stories. Much of this project was lead by students, including the choice of topic and the interview process. The topic emerged as our students realized that nearly everyone in the group had a story to tell about gun violence. While the storytelling process did open up scars, it also allowed us to heal, primarily by empowering youth to reclaim their stories. At the onset of the project, students were reluctant to speak about the perpetrator, much less while being recorded. In fact, the title of our project, " 'We Had to Say No," is excerpted from a child's interview. While brandishing a gun, the perpetrator asks our student and his younger brother, "Did y'all see anything?" This moment epitomizes the terror and the silence that surrounds it, for as our student recalls, he "had to say no." This project emphatically taught our students that it is okay to say "yes." We wish to commend our students for their bravery in telling their stories. Thank you for listening.
These stories were generated by asking the students these restorative questions:
What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
What have you thought about since.
Who has been affected and how?
What about this has been the hardest for you?
What can be done to make things as right as possible?
Click on the link to listen to the story.
How does the location of the incident continue to affect the student?
How does the student grow from this experience?
Imagine this student having to come to class the next day. How might this experience affect his behavior?
4. The Jumper
It was an emotional challenge for this student to retell her story. How can we support our students when they share difficult stories? How do we create environments where students feel safe sharing?
Listen at (1:52)...how does this student begin to recognize who has been affected?
How does this child's role as an older brother impact his processing of the event?
Thank you to RJ Facilitator, Scott Krumsee and the students who particpated in this powerful project.