19.41/42 Editor’s Note

If you are an old reader or a newbie, we welcome you readers of The Beat Within. As is every issue and the many-many pieces that we type, edit and respond to, it is certainly a pleasure to produce and print this amazing priceless double issue, 19.41/42, of writing and art that you are holding in your hands.

Yes, each issue of The Beat Within is costly and we do the best we can to make sure as many people can receive a copy, but it is never enough. The work is relentless to get this publication funded. We certainly wish we had an angel who would support our efforts, but that is not the case, so we work tirelessly in sharing the good work we all do, including you writers and artists who so courageously share your stories each week.

We want to commend and praise our Beat facilitators who take precious valuable time out of their lives to join us for Beat workshops each week. Many facilitators come to us simply with heart and a desire to help make a difference and not much experience to lead workshops, but over time if they hang with us long enough, their courage and confidence as a facilitator grows from the weekly experience of going inside the units each week, in our efforts to create a safe place to write, talk and create.   We’re sure if you asked each facilitator what the secret is to being a successful facilitator/mentor, most of us would have different answers. We think the one common answer to being a good facilitator is to be a respectful listener, ask good questions and to treat our young writers and artists like the way we all want to be treated, like human beings.

Sure not every participant will respectfully work with you. Sure many will test their boundaries, or see the program simply as a way to socialize with their peers, given most of the day our participants are locked up in their rooms aka cells. Also, many of our participants join us with so much anger and distrust, that a one hour writing workshops is not going to change one’s life or attitude. It is actually our consistency, showing up for workshops week in and week out, that over time and many workshops trust is built and the walls that have been built by our participants begins to crumble and that is when we see our writers truly embracing their writing and true feelings.  It’s not easy, but it happens once you feel you have a friend that cares and that is how many of you writers see us Beat facilitators, as your friends and someone you can open up to. Trust us, we are honored to be seen in that light too. We all want friends. We all want to share our story and feel that we are being heard.

As most of you know, we offer a very unique, special one-of-a-kind independent program inside juvenile hall, that most who work inside the hall cannot provide.

We at The Beat want to understand your journeys and what happened to you to get to this point in your life. We want you to dig deeply in your soul to reflect on your life and how it got to this point. Why you are angry, scared, frustrated, ashamed, feeling guilty around the life you are leading and why it is so hard to see that you can change or even if you want to change at this time. That is why building relationships is a must if we have any chance of helping the young and incarcerated see that change is possible and that there are adults who do believe in them.

Of course, too many of our young people will only return to what brought them in jail in the first place; violence, abuse, poverty, neglect and upon returning to these negatives, soon after many good young people will return to the criminal justice system, that has no problem keeping one locked up, especially if you writers and artists continue down a path of violating and falling prey to that hood sickness. Having hood sickness will more times than not get you locked up, if not six feet under.  We at The Beat do not need to define what “hood sickness” is, the answer is right here in this publication! Read on…

Of course, we wish we had an answer on how to beat the system. We can only hope you will be honest with yourself and your needs when given a chance to be free again. Just know, what we can provide to you is a platform to share your story through writing. We at The Beat also want you to know that you ALL have choices and we hope by the conversations we have in our workshops, the writing prompts we present and the writing that you do, you will see that you absolutely have a choice on which road you want to go down. It’s easier said than done, but we trust, when the time is right, you can and will make the right choice for the betterment of your life.

All right, this issue goes out to you all who took the time to read this editor’s note.  Props and praise to you all. Thanks from The Beat for your good work, be it as a volunteer facilitator, or a courageous artist and writer. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.