Kinship happens with lots of different partners. Sometimes kinship happens between races as in the case of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Sometimes kingship happens between communities, like Old St. Pat’s and North Lawndale College Prep. Kinship at its most basic happens between family members, Kins, if you will.
Let me tell you about my big brother who taught me everything I needed to know about kinship. The Notorious BIG said, “You can’t change the world unless you change yourself.” Growing up as a young African-American male in a household with a mother who didn’t obtain a college degree is difficult. At the age of seventeen my mother delivered my brother and after she completed high school she had to find employment to support her first child. Seeing her struggle but never giving up helped my brother,
Corey, become the man he is today.
Growing up in Uptown he had to stay strong and resist the gang life that took so many of his friends. He was the first person in our family to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree. I love my brother. He is my role model — he is a role model for so many people. Corey has two siblings, me and my brother. But Corey’s kin are everywhere.
Corey is a pre-school teacher at Ryerson Elementary on the West Side. After he is done with the little ones, he comes to North Lawndale College Prep serving as the Head Coach of the Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team. It is not an exaggeration to say that he works for and with young people from sun up to sun down. He treats all of these young people like they are his kin because they are.
He is changing the world. I don’t think he will ever understand how he is changing the lives of teenage females by helping them realize their passion and talent in a sport. He is literally rescuing young high school kids from the streets. So many teen-aged girls do not have a strong male in their lives. So they look in bad places for love. They can get un-motivated, even depressed. But Corey plugs the gaps in their hearts by motivating them to push through their adversities, both on and off the court. He is their hero.
Let me tell you about my big brother who taught me everything I needed to know about kinship.
How does someone become the first person in a family to graduate from college? Corey’s mindset reminds me of a basketball team with one goal in mind: a championship. Corey has won his life championship. He instills in others the importance of hard work and dedication by motivating them to do well in school. It’s not just about basketball; it’s about being dedicated and working hard at everything someone does in life. Corey is all about getting that championship. He wanted better, so he did better. He has also made me better.
So Corey is my kin — he shaped and motivated me. Corey is also kin to his preschoolers and his players. Corey has taught me that we are all kin. We all belong to each other, black and white, Old St. Pat’s and NLCP, everyone in the world. Kinship, at the end of the day, is not a matter of blood. It is a matter of heart.
If you would like to learn more about the amazing work that is happening at this innovative charter high school, please visit their website at www.nlcphs.org.
Tiara Nelson is a senior at North Lawndale College Prep. She is number one in her class with a 4.75 GPA.