All She Could See Was Her Mama’s Eyes

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

2Pac


No one knows my struggle, they only see the trouble
Not knowin it’s hard to carry on when no one loves you
Picture me inside the misery of poverty
No man alive has ever witnessed struggles I survived
Prayin’ hard for better days, promise to hold on …

Now that part of “Thug Mansion” by 2Pac feat. Nas and J. Phoenix is the only tune that replays every time I see her. At first, I thought she was as dopey as some of the other students in her class. She rarely participated, and her attention lied elsewhere, and I was a bit frustrated with her progress or lack thereof in my class. She didn’t have any points of entry where she and I could have a good conversation about something other than math, as I seem to have had with my other students. Yet, in my eternal optimism, I decided to move her to the front.

Since then, she’s been doing very well for me, even more recently opening up and scratching on the 90 she’ll soon earn when she steps it up on her participation. Her writing is more meaty, and her math skills have shined brighter. This might even be the case in her other classes. She’s grown a little taller, too, almost eclipsing my own height, and for a girl her age, that might make others around her nervous …

… and it does …

She’s constantly picked on. People start problems with her for no reason. People diss her for her height, making rumors up about her body odor (of which I’m not aware) or her lack of girly qualities, whatever that means. At first, I tried to monitor how she handled it. Her demeanor doesn’t give anything away, so there was no sense in prying since there were no inherent “symptoms” of any social problems. Then, her other teacher read an excerpt of a poem she wrote, and my heart dropped.

For the first time since I was in 5th grade, I was privy to someone who seriously considered committing suicide. While suicide attempts have even become eerily viral, many of these pronounced wishes never come to fruition. With this girl, though, I knew she was serious. And I knew because I know of someone who wanted to commit suicide, too, back in that grade. The signs were there: honest and brutal poetry, anti-socialism, concentration on school to detach oneself from their problems, and problems concerning their parents.

If the teacher doesn’t do the right thing and refer the student but also speak to the child directly about their observations, then the student becomes a victim of his or her own suicidal thoughts. In many underrepresented communities, suicide is thoroughly looked down upon as a selfish and cowardly act. Nevermind that suicide is really a call for help, and the last resort in a list of options the person had in their cry for love. So I fear for the girl, knowing that the parents might blame the suicide on her and not on the circumstances that led to her feeling like there was no way out.

In this day and age, when people quip about committing suicide sarcastically or really just as a teenage hyperbolic social indicator, it takes an awful lot of understanding and listening to know who will commit suicide. And I fear for her, since when I look into her downtrodden and detached eyes, I …

… I see me …

jose, mr. v, and all the other entities I’ve assumed over the last few decades …