Thoughts on 13th, School, and Prison

By Katherine Wang


Last Friday, my team and I watched Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary, 13th, during our monthly social justice talk. As someone who usually only has the attention span for animated movies and sitcom television, I want to highly recommend this documentary. I’d consider 13th to be “required viewing” for anyone living in America.

The documentary starts off with an ominous reminder of the loophole in the 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” In other words, all people are free… except those indicted for crime. Quoted from the documentary, “If you have [“except as a punishment for crime”] embedded in the structure, in this constitutional language, then it’s there to be used as a tool for whichever purposes one wants to use it.”

This loophole was immediately exploited. States began criminalizing black people for minor crimes. A law preaching “freedom” turned into something that allowed for the mass incarceration of black and brown people. A statistic mentioned in the documentary said that 1 in 3 black males born today will go to prison in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 6 Latino males, and 1 in 17 white males. Continue reading

Saturday Morning

By Katherine Wang

This post started out as a “day-in-the-life” but ended up taking a turn after I was inspired by Adam Phillips’s Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life  (https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/08/17/missing-out-adam-phillips/) and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. These are recent thoughts and photos. Interestingly enough, I took these pictures to test out my grandfather’s camera (left to me after he passed away), not intending to overlay text onto them. 

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Self-Care: 2017-2018

By Katherine Wang

The opinions expressed are not representative of City Year or Americorps as organizations.

Self-care has been on the forefront of my mind for years. I can’t let taking care of myself go to the bottom of my priorities, and it’s been especially relevant this year, as I began working full-time as a City Year AmeriCorps Member. From 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM every day, I am “on.” In the morning I get to work with sixth-graders in their math class, and throughout the day I need to be vigilant during lunch, recess, and hallway transitions to ensure that things go smoothly. Right after dismissal, I co-facilitate afterschool for a group of 20 third- and fourth-graders. I am exhausted at the end of each day (and have a glimpse into the reality of “teacher burnout”) from being exposed to such a stimulating environment for 10 hours, but the work I do is equally rewarding as it is draining. I get to watch my students’ confidence grow, work with a team, and learn about myself. A large part of recognizing the rewards comes from taking care of myself.

From a distance, I may seem like the quintessential “self-care expert”: I practice yoga, write in a journal, and I love talking about my feelings. The kind of self-care that working at City Year requires of me is very different from the self-care I practiced for my entire high school career. And I didn’t get to realize this until very recently, since my job has demanded me of things that high school did not.

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