Nehemiah Bey is The Community Outreach Liaison for the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives (IJJRA). IJJRA runs a credit recovery program for students at West Brooklyn High School, and Bey teaches a portion of that class. Bey is also a poet and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Urban Labs: What do you find the most interesting with the students at West Brooklyn High?
Nehemiah Bey: What I find interesting is that our sessions at West Brooklyn High School, an alternative school, begin when the students actual school day ends, and although these sessions are “credit recovery” classes for the students, they are not simply doing the minimum to receive credit. On the contrary, the students are engaged and very interested in learning new ways to think about violence and nonviolence and how those two constructs relate to the Prison Industrial Complex, their individual lives, and their local and global communities.
UL: Who are these students?
NB: These are students who have been, for whatever reasons, determined not up to DOE standards and have been transferred from mainstream public schools to this alternative school. However, this group of students is proving that a more creative pedagogy is necessary to engage our children and make their learning experience relative to their lives.
That being said, with the students finding the information we are disseminating relative to their everyday lives, they are excited about using this technology provided by the Urban Labs to not only promote their talent show, but also to organize and research trends.
UL: How are you introducing technology as an organizing tool?
NB: In the wake of the Easter Sunday, so-called, “wilding” occurrence, where it was reported that technology, namely Twitter, was used by alleged gang members to message and influence others to converge on Times Square and Herald Square respectively, for me that happening, (it’s calamitous consequence notwithstanding) demonstrates the power of social networking technology. Its ability to reach people in the moment will be a paradigm shift in the organizing world that will absolutely enhance the way in which organizers do outreach, message, coalition build and bring community folks together.
Consequently, as Community Outreach Liaison for the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, I am as excited as my students to implement this technology to not only expand my organization’s data base, but more importantly, to deepen and strengthen my organizations relationship with the community.