Sunday, May 2, 2010

Walking The Walk In Brooklyn

As a writer, poet, advocate against violence and father, I said a quick prayer as I walked into Gotham High School on Tuesday, April 27th. I asked my Creator God to help me reach these fertile young minds and let them receive and understand the message that I was to give them. I've been visiting High Schools for over 15 years; since the time I published 'The City Game', and many schools have me come in frequently, as each new class reads 'Street Angel' and 'Brooklyn Story'. But I always get a little more pumped when I visit a new school.

I was watching the N.B.A. playoffs the other night and heard Charles Barkley say that young black men are brainwashed because their goals are either being 'rap stars' or 'entertainers'. It's like when I ask the students who their heroes are and most of the time they say Martin Luther King. But when I ask if they ever heard of Fannie Lou Hamer, Paul Robeson, Whitney Young or Ida B. Wells, almost all of them look at me with a blank stare.

After explaining to the students who these great historical icons were, I talk a little about myself. I told them I was raised in the Albany Projects about a stones throw from where we were during the '70's and I was just like them. Back then, I had bought into the macho, badass mentality of the streets and at one time carried a gun for protection--or at leat that is what I told myself. I had a temper then, and in hindsight, I know it was my Creator God and my mother's daily prayers that kept me out of situations where I might have used that weapon.

After a tour in the Air Force, I started channeling my negative aggression into writing. In 1993, after a series of writing classes, I self-published 'Incident On 43rd Street'. The great feedback that it received inspired me to start my own publishing company, Word Is Bond Press. I decided to use my stories as a way of education young adults to the minefields of growing up in the urban jungle.

I am proud and honored to say that the time spent a Gotham High was a great success. The students loved my books and had so many questions about my characters, the art of writing and my life story. But the crowning moment was when I got ready to leave, the teacher, Nitzan Ziv, came up to me and said: "Mr. Batista, one of my male students said he is now adding you to his list of positive role models.

I smiled--what about that, Charles Barkley!

6 comments:

  1. Brother Rob
    I just wanted to say that it is great to hear all the work that you are doing with our youth. It is great to hear when a young man or young woman has put a person such as yourself on the list of there role models this shows everyone that it was worth all the time that you have spent talking to youth because you have just made a big difference in some ones life and that is another victory for our team the team that cares about our youth. I will be out in NYC in July I will keep you informed on the dates. God Bless you my brother.

    Chief

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  2. Wow! Bobby reading this brightened my day. May God forever bless you Bobby!

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  3. Rob, It is wonderful that you are continuing doing God's work. Keep up doing what you are doing against tremdous odd"s that confront our people and Blackmen on a daily bases. I will always pray for you and your family, for your Peace,Guidance,andVision in staying in the struggle. God Bless You! Lonny Shockley

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  4. Patricia Seymour-HarrisonMay 19, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    Yeah, what about that Mr. Barkley? I know this is an exciting time for both story teller and the listener - the teller when they look into the attentive eyes all around them and for the listener - all that knowledge being planted in the fertile ground of their mind. Wow Bob, I am so impressed.

    Take care -

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  5. I love it I am so proud of you

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  6. I applaud your efforts in what you are conveying to our future.What you have done is open new avenues for our children to journey through to find mentors that are reachable and accessible and have proven their worth in the field of THEIR choice and are willing to assist and guide them in a productive and constructive way. Your strength lies in teaching our children to be visionaries in areas they couldn't conceive of before your intercession. God Bless you my brother, we are to teach our children to know their will and their destiny and first meet them where they are and allow them a cnance to see with new and different insights. The voyage of our discovery is not seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

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