Rhythm of the Chain, edited by the group 826la, is an anthology written by the students of Animo Inglewood Charter High School about their experiences learning to live together with their families, their communities, and with one another. One of my favorite pieces, and one that really touched me personally, is a poem by Aris White called Read Between the Lines. The line that affected me deeply reads “So you may be wondering why this young boy’s plight happens to be the worst day in my life. For this young boy could not be replaced by any other. Because this young boy is my brother.” It made me wonder where I would be if I were to lose my younger brother. Even though we may fight or argue, I love him whether he likes it or not.
Freedom Writers Diary, written by Erin Gruwell, recounts her experiences using writing as a tool for helping young people work through their problems. A group of young men and women, who spent most of their time fighting with one another, were placed in a class with Gruwell and asked to share their experiences. While teaching them about Anne Frank, Gruwell asked her students about the holocaust, and was shocked when nobody knew what it was. Through reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and beginning to journal themselves, the students learned that no matter how difficult their lives were others had had experiences just as difficult. They learned that even in the midst of hardship and anger, forgiveness and compassion are possible.
Freedom Writers Diary and Rhythm of the Chain are two books that show that no matter how difficult our lives are, or how deep our anger is, we are all part of a community and a larger family. We can celebrate what we share rather than focus on the things that divide us.