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The Evolution Of a Shabazz Student (Relative To This Shabazz Student)

By: Hannah Okray

           It is my firm belief that we are not one but many people throughout life. Sometimes we stay the same person for a very long time, other times we might shed traits like a snake does it’s skin, over and over again until we become comfortable with ourselves once again. One of these restless, fluid times is adolescence. Though many try their hardest to resist, shutting out the person they might become, out of loyalty to a person who they once were. During this fragile, ego driven time, one might find an influence of sorts; a new group of friends, a job they enjoy, or a new place of opportunity, something or somewhere that facilitates their many phases and changes to come in the near future. For some, this place of opportunity is Malcolm Shabazz City High. As you might imagine, it is not a simple task to orientate young, thoughtfully thoughtless, passionately heartless, headstrong, wanderers. Shabazz is entirely full of young people shedding their preconceptions and molding their personalities to something comforting to the spirit, and others clinging to empty promises of a former self or wounds of a recent past. At Shabazz this group has gathered to struggle together and yet in a world all their own, to teach and to learn and most essentially to evolve and to become truer to ourselves. Of course this happens through a lengthy, sometimes repetitive and difficult process. The details of this process vary for each individual but there are commonalities that I’ve noticed throughout my experience at Shabazz.

We come to Shabazz from many different places, different backgrounds.  Personas of every variety. Despite this, we all share two basic fundamental things, we are all stuck at some point in adolescence, and we have all made a choice to make a change. To come here to Shabazz something must motivate you, something that needs to be changed. So upon arrival, we are finicky cats, sniffing about nervously while feigning disinterest. A few days pass and comfort sets in, we’ve assessed our surroundings and it’s true, there are much fewer threats here than in places before! We transform into cocky house cats, some lounging around and others strutting their ego. And thus begins the evolution of a Shabazz student, some may skip stages altogether, others may never move past their preconceptions of who they should be. After settling in at Shabazz students aren’t afraid to laugh loudly any more, or to argue passionately, or express themselves freely. This is a gift but begins as a mild curse. A brief phase of loud peacocking, often accompanied by borderline rude jokes and expression of “self” that has no restrictions.

After a quarter or so at Shabazz, or a week for some, or a year for others, a sort of appreciation sets in, an appreciation for others around you and a sense of self respect. It’s difficult to say what causes it. It may very well just be a developmental stage in life. One might begin to stand up for teachers and students who are being treated unfairly, or find themselves cleaning up after others when nobody's around. This sense of self starts very small, just holding back on an argument so as not to escalate a situation even though you may be right, or working on a project over lunch when it might be oh so out of character for you. It blossoms differently in everyone but it grows exponentially for those who allow it.

If you’ve had a successful time at Shabazz, then by the end of your time there you’ll have found yourself taking risks that you’d never imagined would be so important. You’ll also find that you not only stand up for your beliefs but defend others in their right to be treated with respect. You find yourself taking action when needed and only then, and taking leadership roles that would’ve otherwise been intimidating. You’ll leave more quietly than you came. I mean that quite literally, Shabazz gives many a voice and then, over time, teaches them how to use it gently and with meaning. At some point Shabazz becomes your nest, where you scream, cry, and grow your feathers, all while constantly contemplating jumping out. Along with the nurturing regurgitation of knowledge from older wiser birds who tolerate our young defiant screams. By the time you reach the end of your stay, the noisy nest should be driving you insane, restlessness sets in and that’s how you know you’re ready to fly.