I paid a visit to the Freedom School this past week. It was an expiring adventure that left me wondering why there is no school like this on a daily basis in schools across the country. Everybody talking about wanting to improve the lot of our children, but they keep on doing the same things and producing the same result. The result is that the kids are graduating from America's high schools and can't read, write or reason.
At the Freedom School, located on the campus of Altadena Elementary School in Altadena, I parked my car and as I approached the school's entrance I saw a group of students and staff standing in the doorway. I thought something must have happened otherwise why were they standing in the doorway instead of trying to find their way to class? I soon got my answer. When I got to the entry to the school, those in the doorway began to sing, "Good Morning" and greeted each student and adult who entered. I was pleasantly surprised.
I went on into the auditorium where the students were having a breakfast snack. That was followed by more singing. They sung the inspirational song to get them in a learning and cooperative mood for the day. The song had lines like, "I am a Lion, I am an eagle, I am a mountain, I am the greatest." I couldn't help but think about all those rappers getting paid to tell our kids that they were W's and N's and trying to tell the world that they are just words and it's the beat that counts. Baloney! The positive affirmation of The Freedom School works to set up a positive attitude. Negative Rap reaffirms a no hope message for our young people who have bought it to the point of pulling their pants down, their grades down, and filling up the jails and prisons. And we want to expose them to this!
Oh yes, I know some of you are saying that there is some positive Rap. Yes, and as Malcolm used to say, "There are some non-poisonous snakes, but why go into the snakes den at all?" And to think that our church, on Men's Day, had a so-called preacher rapping Ice T's songs. What happened to the message that Christians were to be in the world but not of the world? And there he was, in a Christian church, rapping the Devil's music when they had the choices of hundreds of years of Gospel music to choose from such as Andre Crouch and James Cleveland. As for me, thankfully, I had advance notice and found it more enlightening and inspirational to be elsewhere.
Some people believe that if it comes from the preacher's mouth it's the Gospel, and so it's okay. To paraphrase a statement I recently saw in The Jewish Journal, "Somehow in the course of our history, loving the preacher has become synonymous with defending every action and policy of the preacher as good for Christians." The article goes on to say, "Love without rebuke is not real love. Anyway, aren't we suppose to love right and not any man?"
Does the gospel of Jesus Christ really need people who are proud to be identified as THUGS, like Ice Tea and Snoop Dog to reach our young ? If I wanted to hear gangster Rap, I surely wouldn't go to church to hear it. I would just go out into the world.
I love my children and grandchildren too much to feed them that garbage, especially in church! Please note that it won't be on any college entry exams or promotional opportunity examinations at work either. I even doubt that God will give us points to getting into heaven by how many gangster Rap songs we can recite.
Meanwhile back to the Freedom School experience, I read a book to the audience assembled for the morning as part of the morning inspirational event which the school calls "Harambee" (Swahili for "all pull together"). Each day someone from the community volunteers to read a book to the assembly as part of the Harambee activity. I considered it another opportunity to give back for the blessings I have received. Lots of people talk a good game but when it is time to do something, they come up missing in action.
I was inspired and, hopefully, the kids were too. I saw a teacher raise their hand when it got a little loud in the room and I heard a response of nothing but room-wide silence from the crowd. "WOW", was all I could say.