“The power of word is crucial and can move mountains.” – Bruce George
On July 2nd, four members of the Generation Justice team attended a creative writing workshop that was held at the John Marshall Center in Albuquerque and was sponsored by the New Mexico Youth Alliance. Bruce George, who is internationally known as the Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam, instructed the workshop.
Along with his work for Def Poetry Jam, Bruce George is an award winning producer, social activist, writer, speaker, poet, entrepreneur, and author. During our personal introductions, it became apparent that he enjoys hosting these interactive workshops, and educating both youth and adults alike.
There were a few themes that stood out most within the workshop – encouraging everyone to participate in their own creative writing, developing the ability to transform struggle into art, and understanding that the gateway to success depends on whether or not we believe in ourselves.
Benefits of creative writing –
Because writing is a form of reflection, creative writing provides an outlet for a deeper awareness of ourselves. Engaging in this type of unfiltered expression can benefit the mind and the heart in the same ways as psychological and emotional therapy, as it allows for us to witness our own transparency.
Transforming struggle into art –
As said by Bruce, “everybody is going through something;” meaning, everybody is experiencing their own struggles. During a free-writing exercise, the theme of personal struggle weighed heavily on my mind. I wrote, “I’m trying to figure out the ways in which I want to express myself. I’m tired of the constant stereotype telling me to go back to my own country, when I was born only a few blocks away from the point of conversation. I want to break free.” Everybody was then given an opportunity to read aloud. Some people wrote words of reflection, while others wrote in-depth rhythmic poems. After I read my short piece, I was told by Bruce that developing the ability to express myself is exactly how I will break free. It’s amazing how such a simple statement can resonate so deeply. A major aspect of expression is freedom, and embracing that freedom is exactly how we are able to attain the liberation that many of us so desperately seek.
Belief in oneself = success –
Embracing our struggles is the first step to setting ourselves free, and an essential piece of this process includes believing in ourselves. “Get out of your own way,” was a statement that Bruce said numerous times throughout the workshop. “GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!” In other words, the only thing standing between you and success… is you. Self-doubt is most likely the main contributor to failure, even while we surround ourselves with people who love and encourage us. If we do not believe in ourselves, failure is inevitable. In my humble opinion, developing an understanding and appreciation of our individual identities reveals an obligation and responsibility to proudly express who we are. Once that sense of pride and belief is established, anything is possible.
Intersection of identity and expression –
Aside from being an incredibly helpful three-and-a-half hour workshop about creative writing, it was also a call for personal expression and liberation. Somewhere between reading my personal thoughts aloud and listening to thirteen year old boys spit intellectually stimulating raps, I felt a sense of belonging and a sense of freedom. Within that classroom, we created a safe space for anyone and everyone to freely express themselves. Imagine the possibilities if we were able to view the world in this same way.