The "Empowering Ourselves" Workshop helps to empower black youth, reduce violence in the inner-city, and get young people to think seriously about the importance of respect for self and community.
1. The Workshop includes a lesson on important aspects of African American history. In learning about the struggles and hardships of earlier generations of African Americans, students develop a (renewed) sense of purpose and vision for their own lives. Students feel more comfortable in reaching their own goals after understanding the strength and courage of their ancestors.
2. The Workshop presents students with a critical analysis of music and art forms that use derogatory language. In discussing the ways their ancestors were dehumanized and disrespected, students gain a better understanding of the deleterious effects of music and art forms that condone the use of demeaning terms. Thus, students feel compelled to choose music and language that is empowering and uplifting.
3. The Workshop engages students in a sophisticated dialogue about noteworthy issues within their community. This is important since there are few opportunities for students, particularly in the African American community, to articulate their feelings and perspectives. This encourages students to be more assertive and comfortable expressing their ideas, questions, and comments.
Based on our past experience, young people leave the Workshop with a greater sense of who they are; they become more interested in finding ways to not only further empower themselves, but also their peers!
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