Tag Archives: Generation Y

Why Youth Respond With Violence

In September, teenage honor student Derrion Albert was beaten to death on his way home from school. In the Generation Y GED class, students watched the explicit video of the fight/death that was filmed on a cell phone.

The Project Learn students were then instructed to write a response about the state of our community and how media affects youth and their actions.

Here are a few reactions:

            The beating of Derrion Albert was sad but in Chicago, things are different. In the Windy City, gangs mostly run the streets and a lot of gangs still believe that you’re in a gang even if you say you aren’t. It’s “with you’re with us or against us.” I’m the son of a big-time gang leader. The gang I used to run with did all types of things like this just to get put in a ranking. (A rank tells other members how dangerous you are. It’s almost like a source of power and respect.) A lot of beatings like this stem from refusing to join or disrespecting the set. (A set is a gang’s rules and terms on how they run that area.) It’s deeper than what the news shows us.

Gangs were created to protect and help the community, but now these young people have flipped it around. I hate it because there isn’t anymore respect or loyalty. Back then, they didn’t beat people up for small things. It was mostly over turf (being in another neighborhood) or servings (dealing drugs or making money on another man’s living grounds). There will always be gangs. I don’t think there’s any getting around it. But what gang members can do is speak to kids and show them that you can be a brotherhood without the violence. That way, we can lower the number of deaths.


            Our younger generation is falling victim to inhabit the negativity that the media displays. As a result, they have reacted by using violence in many situations. I truly feel that they are affected by the music they listen to. Let’s look at the death of Derrion Albert. He was killed while on his way home from school. This was tragic. This was only one brutal act that’s recently been reported. What about the thousands that hasn’t? We as a community have to do better for ourselves and young people looking up to us. We can’t control what’s in the media, but we can try to persuade youth not to follow the negative things that they hear in music and see on television.


It’s certain TV shows, movies and music that have an affect on our daily lives because we can relate to them. Some people might take what they see on TV and apply it in real life. Let’s take music for example. The same artist that is supposed to help people get out of the hood, are the ones bringing the guns to the hood, claiming gangs and flaunting their wardrobe. The people at home watching are going to see that and be affected by it. Basically it’s monkey see, monkey do.


Generation Y and Harlem Nights

A few months ago, I started teaching the Generation Y GED class in addition to my duties as community relations manager. The class is for students who are 16 to 24 years old, hence the name Generation Y. At first, I didn’t know what to expect and wondered how my students would respond to me as their teacher. I was nervous, yet excited.

One student told me,

 “Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in what’s going on in my life that I don’t realize other events that are happening and may affect me.”

After hearing this, I created lesson plans and developed activities that would increase their awareness of what is happening in the world. One of the activities is something they must do every class session. The students analyze an article in the newspaper or news website and share their story with the class, explaining their personal ties with the article’s outcome. They love it.

In another assignment, a student wrote an essay about his favorite movie, Harlem Nights. I was very impressed with how he explained why this was his favorite movie, citing various movie scenes and how it related to him. Compared to his first essay, it showed his growth as a writer.

Check out his work:

“My favorite movie of all times would have to be Harlem Nights. The reason I selected this movie as my favorite is because it demonstrated how the Black community in those times had power, togetherness and loyalty.

The movie’s writer show how in the early 1900s, the Black community had respect, honor, loyalty and Blacks were a unit. There were famous Black actors and actresses who came together and paid respect to a generation.

I loved Harlem Nights because it showed how Black people did what they wanted to do and had money for whatever came their way. It was a scene where one of the characters lost trust with another one, and did like I would do by handling their business like adults.

What I learned from Harlem Nights is that it’s not always who or what you know, it’s more of how you tend to use that situation and make the best of what is in your surroundings.”

I’d like to share other assignments, class experiences and student responses. It lets you to take a glimpse into what we do at Project Learn, while allowing the students to see their work publicly highlighted.

– Alexia