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THE CURSED BLOCK 
by Kashanti Keise

     I can’t even recall the first time it happened. I only have the vague recollection of being eleven or twelve, that I was most likely a stomach-churning combination of shocked and upset. I can almost taste the panic just thinking about it, the fuzzy white noise my brain made, the invisible hands constricting my airways when I began to say my age, which if the perpetrator was reasonable (although the act itself determined the former was untrue), would set off a mental alarm. My palms always grew sweaty and shaky, but the moment I heard a superficial “my bad,” my legs flew me to the next street, where I was safe again. And I’m not the only one either, every feminine-presenting person remembers the first time they were bothered by a man who was old enough to be their father, their teacher, or maybe even their grandfather. I had heard so many horror stories, and I considered myself one of the lucky ones up until recently to have never been in immediate danger at the hands of some catcaller.

     My first mistake was stepping foot onto that cursed block. The stretch of poorly lit pavement on Sixth Street from Avenue A to Second never brought me or my friends any good luck, and tonight was no different. It was too late on a Friday (or Saturday, if my poor memory is failing me), and we made the conscious decision to challenge the higher power that had plagued us with misfortune on this same path time and time again. We walked quickly, like a string of ducklings following their mother, although in this case, our mother was the false sense of hope we held onto which stemmed from good karma that we didn’t have to begin with.

     I could sense danger the moment I saw the male figures come into view. They incited fear immediately, and I could tell by the hush that fell over my noisy gaggle of friends that they felt it too. No sooner than the lump grew in my throat, one of the filthy men was speaking. The glass vessel he held and the colorful flowers that protruded from it made him appear harmless, but we knew from experience, that that was not the case. His speech was terribly slurred and his friend’s was identical. I couldn’t tell if my ears were purposefully trying to drown out the remark or if he was just that intoxicated. 

     In that moment I hated New York City, I wished to be born elsewhere. Nasty men existed everywhere, but the misfortune I experienced in dark alleys and train stations on my way home seemed excessive. We had already begun to pass the sloppy pair when my friend muttered an “ew,” in response to the flowers that were pushed in his face. “Men are ugly,” he added, and I agreed lightheartedly. Less than seconds later, a loud crashing noise rang out, followed by some shouting and the feeling of something raining down on us. As my head whipped around, I could feel the glass fall from my hair and my hood.
     There he was, the shattered vase on the ground behind us and flowers clutched tightly in his pudgy, dirt-encrusted fingers. He was shouting so loud that I was deafened, my jaw dropping to the ground below me. His confidante appeared just as awestruck as we were, shouting and flailing about as he asked him why he would do such a thing. He held him back, but they were right, strength is in numbers. With my friends by my side I felt fearless. My safety and livelihood had already been compromised, but the stream of curses that filled the air from our side of the block made it clear that we had won. The flying vase didn’t silence us, not like it would have if any of us had been on our own. It didn’t make men not ugly, it didn’t change my reaction from a “fuck you” once I had processed what was happening, and it certainly didn’t keep me from speaking up to every man that bothered me after that night.

Photo of Typhon Robinson, creator of Black Studio Magazine

REFUGEE 
by David Ortega

They leave the harsh lands to settle in unforgiving seas that swallow all hope. 

 

Drifting afloat an empty ocean, slowly getting pulled out and forgotten by man. 

 

Every day, people lose hope in the seas of dread and despair.

 

Slowly, from the lack of food, life drifts out from the pores of the boat that was once filled with life and hope. The smell of rot now fills the boat. We are seeing things we dare not imagine; things only seen in our deepest fears.

 

The once-filled boat now only holds a few. It is limited to one’s inner circle, to the few we trust and care for.

 

The boat, barely holding the few, slowly goes under.

 

The sea takes the last of the life that held on.

 

They’ve made it! Made it to sanctuary, to the cities and the countries they longed to reach. They can finally live the life they wanted to escape to.

 

Here they are, drifting ashore one by one. They lay face down on the shore, motionless and lifeless, while  the sea hits them with gentle waves. Emptiness.

 

With an ironic twist, they are photographed. Their images of despair are shared online to people who are hypocritical in nature. These people love to talk about human rights and love, yet they never extend a hand or shed a tear when someone in need is closeby.

 

They are the new settlers. The dreamers and believers, the hopeful few. They are only on our screens, nameless and faceless.

UNTITLED
by Jasmine Foroughi 

Dance is hard

 

It's a movement of expression 

 

We dance to express 

Not to impress

 

Push ourselves to the max everyday

 

Going home to a hot bath 

Is what all dancers need 

 

We are perfectionists 

But nothing is perfect.

UNTITLED II 

by Leila Ousmane

we made love a game

 

whoever plays with the mind gets happiness 

and whoever plays with the heart gets hurt.

modernity, love , and liquid education 

welcome to this generation.

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RELIGION AND SCIENCE:
THE BEST OF ENEMIES, THE WORST OF FRIENDS 
by Crystal Gonzalez

 

I am blue like the sky

folding in the air

white as snow

forever in your eyes

you see me everywhere

With the same share

in other eyes you see us

day and night

see me in the sky

I’m always around 

you see me in your eyes

we are the sky and space

forever with the angels

Religion and science

You see both worlds

In your eyes we still

all escape

WHO I AM
by Ivette Pabon

A teenager

Is who I am 

A mother 

Is who I am

A person who gives a smile when she wants to frown 

Is who I am

A person who doesn’t know what it’s like to feel loved 

But loves others 

Is who I am

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Art by Michell Angamarca

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Art by BT

ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS 
by Devo Conde

     One day I was at my basketball game.  The gym was packed. It was about 3:00  people  there.  Me and my team was in Brooklyn and we was ready and the energy in  the  gym was amazing.  We was focused. I stretched and just got my body ready for the game.  I just couldn’t wait to play.  

     The  game  started and I’m playing a tremendous game, but there was a lot of  trash talking. I scored on their best guard and put the ball in his chest and I screamed, “GET A BUCKET CUZ I DO THIS MAN!” He came down and tried to drive through the lane, so I stole the ball and went straight to the basket and he jumped with me when I went to go lay the ball up.  So I looked him in his eyes, and I cocked the ball back and I softly jellied. The whistle blew. 
     The ref  said,  “Score  the  goal  white  nine  with  the  hit.” 

     I screamed,  “AND  ONE, HE CANNOT GUARD ME COACH!”  So throughout the  game things like that was happening. 

     After the game I take my uniform off and put on my jeans, my shirt, my sneakers, and my sweater.  Everybody on my team live on the three  train line and I live on the D train line. I had 43 points, 6 rebounds, and  5 assists. I was tired, so instead of getting on  the 3 train to 59th  street and  transferring to the D  train, I told my coach I’m going to get  straight on the D train. So I left and started to walk to the D train station because it is a little further than the 3 train station. 

     As I’m walking I feel like  somebody is behind me, so I look back and it was the kid that had been guarding me and 3 of his teammates. So I just thought to myself like okay  they  gotta  get on the  D  train  too--  like I  was not worried about nothing. So I keep  walking  and the kid that was guarding me ran up to me right before I crossed the  street  to the train station.  He said, “Yo  bro, you don’t live over here?” So I say, “Nah, why what happen?” He said, “Oh, so I wanna  fight.” 

     So I took off my bag and  said, “Heard you.” When I was taking my chain off, he pushed me. I tripped over my bag and sweater and fell. All four of them started punching and kicking me. I was just trying to block my face.
     When it was all over with, I got up, got my stuff, called my pops and told him to come get me. The fact that they jumped me for getting buckets was so corny. It was an intense game and we was all talking shit. So it was not about the words. He was mad I scored 43 points with a W, but my dad came to me and told me, “People do not wanna see you make it. Niggas wanna see you fail, so you can suffer and be stuck in the same place all your life. They gonna try to bring you down with them, so keep your head up. Make good decisions and keep balling.” 

     I got home, called my coach and I told him what happened and he was pissed

off and he told me to stay with him when I was going to or leaving games. 

     When I got off the phone I put ice on my lip. My lip was swollen and it hurt. I was upset that my lip was swollen. Having a swollen lip don’t look cute. I asked my dad, “How am I going to talk to girls with this swollen lip?” He laughed and said, “You will figure it out, son. I seen you get a girl number sweaty after a game... you can do it with a busted lip you, Devo.” 

     I smiled and said thanks dad. At that moment, he really boosted my confidence. I felt everything was possible for me. My mom started to lose her mind when she came home and saw my lip. She was heated and kept yelling, “Little boys be jealous cuz my baby all that and a bag of chips... it’s okay baby you will be okay, how much you had you had to have a lot if they was that mad.” All that was going through my head was I gotta love her.

UNTITLED
by Voshon Delbridge

When you get lied to so much the words of others become mysteries, actions become facts and exceptions become slim and shady 

I will not believe it if you tell me I will not become your love if you do not show me.Trust is valuable to the heart and mind and person once it’s broken reality becomes visible and clear my eyes become your playground you can try to play with them all you want but when my feelings are drawn to a conclusion the playground is closed to any intruders.The heart becomes the battleground of judgement who shall stay and who shall leave. Thoughts of reality deepening  as I remain to use my imagination. Causing my feelings to become nightmares as I toss and turn into multiple conclusions show me the truth and we will surely be secluded in our...

 

Love, truly yours, Voshon

BREAKING UP WITH DEPRESSION 
By Malala Waseme 

I Can’t say it was easy

But it wasn’t that hard

I’m not going to lie

I enjoyed breaking your heart

I’m always willing to give up

Over something stupid and dumb

You were my stupid mistake 

A lonely heart… I can take

You made me feel this pain

You and me are not the same 

We live in this body

Conflicting thoughts 

But you are not the real me 

You are no longer a part of me

I’m breaking you apart

I’m glad to break your heart

A GOOD STORY 
by Egypt Lopez

I want to sink into my fantasies and allow them to envelope me in their whimsy. Into a world where dreams truly are achievable. Fun and undefined. No confinement to that of reality’s rules. With the power, and the freedom, to be what I desire. Where selfishness isn’t always a condemnation of a person’s morals. Where caring for myself is okay. Where feeling the way I feel isn’t always wrong because it isn’t contented. Maybe such a fantasy is simple. Maybe it’s silly and childish. But maybe those things aren’t inherently wrong? Maybe. One day, maybe.

UNTITLED
by Spirit Jones

Sadness. Why is it that my warm envelope of depression is plagued with a negative connotation? Sadness and her beautiful grief-stricken face. The one that sat by my night for months secretly rooting for my speedy recovery. The one that cocooned me when things got too rough. Her touch is only but a memory now that she isn’t here anymore. But what happens to her? She stayed with me for months, me not minding the misguided misguidance. We’d stick together through thick and thin. She’d travel with me in the form of a large black hoodie and a pair a loud headphones. She’d kiss me to sleep every night. What happens to her now that I’m okay? Now that I’m standing on my own two feet again, now that I don’t need her? Should I not mind the fact that she may or may not be giving other people the same treatment she gave me?

I COME FROM
by Travis Smoker

I come from failure to realize what is important in life.

Failing is the best blessing I have ever received in my life. It shows me the way of being what I am and what I should be.  If I never failed, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  I would be arrogant and stuck-up and that gets you nowhere in life. Failure is what helps me succeed.

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by Grasiela Coyotl 

Being quarantined showed us how beautiful the outside world is and how hard it is to remain indoors. Wouldn’t it be nice to be as free as a bird?

COMMISSIONER. . .
by Luis Espinal

uis (class of ’13) was awarded a Posse Scholarship and went on to attend Lafayette College.  This was his college admissions essay. 

 

I always wanted to be a superhero. I thought that being a superhero was the coolest thing in the world. Since I didn’t know how to be one, I idolized the ones that were already there ñ the movie superheroes, who although faced the hardest of hardships, always managed to save everyone.

In the movies, one becomes a superhero either by genetics, getting bitten by a radioactive spider, or finding a powerful object that grants superpowers. During my childhood, I found myself looking for such objects in the streets. One day as I walked to school, I stumbled upon a round metal coin, with the symbol of a bat emblazoned in its center. It was beautiful in its luminous silver and it shined like gold against the early morning sun. I thought this was some sort of special token left by Batman for me. This was proof that I was finally going to become the superhero I’d always wanted to be. The token was my most prized possession and became my personal super amulet, until I decided to show it to my friends for the first time.

I was hit hard when I discovered that my super amulet was no less than a coin from an alcohol brand, the physical representation of someone’s vice or bad habit. After that, I shut down on my "super side." I decided to focus on what was real and tangible. 

Now when I look back on those days, I realize the meaning of my encounter with the coin. We see elusive symbols and icons of heroism on television and in movies. The media provides examples of heroes with opulent lives, and we care to believe that that is what’s real. We forget what it really means to be a hero, what it really takes to act on your desires, and to help those in need. We have let society, through media, shape our definition and view of heroism, and as a result, we have forgotten that we all have the potential to be heroes! 

Recent natural events like hurricanes Irene and Sandy have brought communities together to help each other. Many people are waking up to their “superside” again, and they realize that it is still there, it has just been dormant.   

So, eventually I realized that heroes do exist ñ they just appear different than they do on television. What we donít see on T.V. is the everyday common hero.

I still want to be a superhero. I do not want to follow the traditional movie heroes. I want to be an actual, real hero: a common day person who, when needed, is there to help. College will be a step in that direction; it will give me the tools and resources that I need to actualize that dream. I believe that everything happens for a reason; maybe I found that coin in order to lose faith in what I thought was real, and realize what really is real.

PAINT MUCH?
by Stacey Sullivan

How many of you paint?

The more relevant question is,  How many of you are artists?

Would you believe me, if I told you paint daily?

Better yet, do you believe me when I say you are an artist?

You see in this world we ALL painting daily .

We use the colors of sweetness, envy, lust, motivation,greed, love,hate, or carelessness ect. Just to name a few.

Allow me to go deeper.

We use these colors everyday to paint the picture of our reality.

Yes, you see we are all PAINTERS!

The question then becomes how many of us are paying attention to the gallery we walk in everyday?

If you have not, I encourage you to wake up that artist!

Realize that the people around you  are a gallery! People are painters.

People are painting  you a picture of WHO THEY ARE.

And hence are a work of art in your gallery.

So what is in your galleries ? 

Do you have original Piccasos, Da Vincies, & Kaholsor or are you surrounded by counterfeits ?

Do you even take the time to notice and analyze the beautiful pieces of art in your gallery or are you trying to paint over it with your colors???

Or maybe these pieces have become like Pokemon:  Got To Catch Them ALL!

I encourage you to pick wisely and spend time in your gallery before adding another piece of art.

While there, I implore you to to grab paintings on and off your gallery walls all the time. 

Move them around as if you are in the most prestigious gallery.

I caution painting over art, for art is art and there is a place for all art.

Embrace what's on each canvas and your power not only as a painter but a CURATOR !

UNTITLED
by Alam de la Cruz

Repeat after me 

Repeat after me

Hands up don't shoot 

Hands up don't shoot

Hands up don't shoot 

what the crowd says

But what's the violence 

No need to bleed for rights 

No need to stop and seize 

Violate my deeds

I'm the citizen 

ur the man in blue 

Excuse  criminal 

because that's all I see in u

Why u tell me what to do

Why be so hostile

With a lost child 

Go ahead kill me u have an excuse 

U were feared ? And excused

I kill u and I get life 

Probably death if it was Legal 

U get roses and love at a funeral 

I get tears of pain 

From my people

Do u value more than me 

Different chains

Same veins 

I see the hate in ur eyes 

I had to do what I did 

I plead to survive 

And u promise to oath 

Oh please stop it 

all this for fake hope u 

Swear ul never betrayed

BLACKOUT POEM 
by Jalitza Nieves

We

        talking about rights

        talking about

 

                               women

                        and

 

                                            no man

 

                                            let me have my little half

 

that little there               Had

 

nothing to do with him.

UNTITLED 
by Qushawn Allen

I’m Que Dog from Harlem

where we dream about having

big houses and big whips

hop in the all white looking brick then I dip 

MY OWN BEAUTY
by Ariana Jordan

They say beauty is in the eye of

the beholder

My beauty lies upon my own shoulders

Respect I show is the respect I get

Some of these girls don’t get it yet

Confidence is my highest pedestal

There’s more to me than just my looks

It’s my strength, my vision, it’s the difference

In the path I took.

Beauty is more than a look, it’s in the

Soul.

I’m just trying to be my own beauty,

The beauty I hold.

They say beauty is in the eyes of the

beholder.

But my beauty lies upon my own shoulders.

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Geremy, Angie, Malala hitting the screenprinting

UNTITLED
by Angeliq Hammie

the gods 

and goddesses

had supernatural powers, but they acted like humans.

inhabited by the spirits

in their eyes

their own lives

was so feared.

afterlife 

shades  

lost pleasures. 

On the opposite 

shore was

everlasting happiness

happy spirits filled with peaceful

and beautiful meadows.

souls were sent to the great

heavens. 

a rich king  stole of the gods. his greatest

drink  moved away from his thirsty lips.

sentenced  forever.

a king    tried to win the favor of wife.

his queen

carries the keys to the underworld,

in  honor

him wore black robes.

afterlife

of the earth was 

place of

Worship.

FORGIVENESS
by Jayce Embry

Do you deserve forgiveness
For making me bare witness
A home with vicious stiffness?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For always making me grimace
And forcing me to keep cautious distance?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For making me despise my own existence?
For not making that rare but making it consistent?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For invoking strong emotions around parenthood in an instant?
For creating an environment where I feel no one listens?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For making our lives feel like a prison?
For making everything a competition?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For my risen resentment?
For giving your pretending intention?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For never reflecting on the trauma you could be preventing?
For the karmic energy you are inventing?
Do you deserve forgiveness
For our minds that you're infecting?
For the children you are neglecting?
Do you deserve forgiveness . . .
 

Because I think you don't.
I don't have to forgive you.
But I can and will move on.

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Photo: Daniel Bergerson, 2016

DRESS SHOES AND RED BULL
by Nayely “Potato” Campbell 

A long sleeve covers a tattooed arm.
It shoots pass me to tap the screen

I flinch and apologize

“Can you stop saying sorry”

 

A light hispanic accent hums

carols that irritate my soul.

Two hour later, I hum along

I long for a duet

 

Red Bull makes those dress shoes

Bounce and squeak on the floor

In the best mood.

The energy is magnetic

 

Dress shoes and Red Bull

Don’t go together

But they blend with me

Just fine.

I was peaceful 

among thorns 

hands stained 

of a broken crown. I 

rebuilt 

oneself to 

elevate the mind. Now in 

this moment I 

rise and I shine. I 

rebuilt my 

crown and now 

a kingdom is mine. Because 

I had to fall 

before I could 

rise.

UNTITLED
By Jayce Embry
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Gabe, David, Jayce, Heaven, Jassly, Malala

UNTITLED
by Artianna Graham

I am the future

Bright as the stars

I have the promise

of beginnings and 

the infinity of life

UTOPIA* 
by Emily Ojeda  

I build my own universe

Cannot be discovered in museums

A universe of my own creation

Created from my talent and determination

Your words burn my skin

"You won't make it"

"You're not talented enough"

But they don't pierce my soul

My own utopia on canvas

Born from the core of my heart




 

*Won Honorable Mention in City College of New York Citywide Poetry Contest

BALDWIN’S WORDS
by Enmanuel de la Nuez

“It is a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that one-ninth of its population is beneath them. And until that moment, until the moment comes when we, the American people, are able to accept the fact that my [our] ancestors are both white and Black. That on that continent we are trying to forge a new identity[.] I am not an object of missionary charity. I am one of the people who built the country–until this moment there is scarcely any hope for the American dream, because the people who are denied participation in it, by their very presence, will wreck it.”

           --James Baldwin

 

I feel as if James Baldwin’s words are so profound, that anything I could say in response would simply not do it justice. His vision of the American Dream–-which to this today we find ourselves examining–-is inspiring. It inspires me, for example, to question the narrative that the American Dream is one of mobility, available for all. It also inspires me to advocate for the disadvantaged. Above all, it reminds me that I have the power to disrupt a system that is not serving us.

As a little girl

Latino families gather around you when you start to play with little Latin boys

And before you even learn your first words

Before you even learn how to make that first cup of cafe bustelo

They start this chorus of awws and que lindas

Latino families build this dream of how cute you and so and so’s nene would look together

once you two get older

Latino families mold you into this being

Every child that comes after another has to be better than the last

You can’t make the same mistakes your brother did

You better get good grades, remember what your cousin got on their last test

Latino families just expect you to understand the ways, the rules

And if you don’t pick up on them fast enough

The chancleta will certainly engrain each and every rule and consejo into your head

Now imagine the look on my Puerto Rican parents’ faces

When I tell them I’ve fallen in love with someone who does not look the way they do

You would think

That these people. My people. who have way more than five different cultures running through their bloodstream would understand and accept my partner for who he is.

But no.

They judge him for the color of his skin and not by the content of his character

And I am disgusted.

I am hurt that the man I have fallen in love with

has been shunned by the people who have raised me

to be loving and understanding and accepting

The same values they have taught me, they threw away the moment they saw him

You see my family never taught me the ugly truth behind their ways

Behind the rules and consejos there were these underlying ugly monsters

Judgement, prejudice, hatred, racism

My mother hides these monsters behind her beliefs

She acts as if she repents to the holy trinity then the ugly words she spews about people will go unnoticed

Well let me tell you, Ma

That the father the son and the holy spirit will NOT save you

They will not forgive you for every sin

Especially for those that you seek forgiveness for

but proceed in acting upon every morning

Like when you wake up and I have to hear you tell me how how much you hate the man I love

Like every time I have tried to speak to you about my friends and unless they call roll their r’s or have a skin color that resembles cafe con leche

You call them things like “la flaca or la morena”

As if their names are not worthy to be spoken through your mouth

Let me tell you

That I will not let these ugly monsters be engrained into my mind

I will love my man no matter how dark his skin tone gets on those hot summer days

And no matter how many times he lets slang leave his lips when he talks passionately about the things he loves.

I will stand by my friends whether their hair has more of a kink than ours

I will love them no matter how deep and rich melanin turns their skin

Or even if they lack any color at all and they look like freshly fallen snow

I will love them all

Without prejudice, without hatred and without judgement

UNTITLED 
by Veronica Fernandez
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by Grasiela Coyotl 

Isolation/Quarantine is difficult for people for different reasons. Both mental and physical health are important; and if you are a student, remote-learning is a major change in the way we “normally” are taught. Keeping a journal or having a book to read can help pass the time during this pandemic. COVID-19 has taught us to appreciate what we have everyday and to help one another in times of need.

It is our mission to provide a philosophical and practical education for all students, an education that features creativity and inquiry, encourages habitual reading and productivity, as well as self-reflection and original thought. We agree with Socrates that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” and it is our desire to prepare students to live thoughtful and meaningful lives. We are committed to inspiring the love of learning in our students. This mission can best be accomplished in a school that is a democratic community. As a democratic community, we strive to exemplify the values of democracy: mutual respect, cooperation, empathy, the love of humankind, justice for all, and service to the world. The James Baldwin School is a college preparatory. Our curriculum and pedagogy to prepare students for the rigors of college work and motivate them to desire and plan for higher education. In preparing students for college we believe that we move students toward higher levels of intellectual engagement while they are in high school. It is our mission, as well, at the James Baldwin School, to provide a haven for students who have previously experienced school as unresponsive to their needs as individuals. We wish for all students to find their voice and to speak knowledgeably and thoughtfully on issues that concern their school and their world. We aid students in this endeavor by personalizing our learning situations, by democratizing and humanizing the school environment, and creating a “talking culture,” an atmosphere of informal intellectual discourse among students and faculty.

THE JAMES BALDWIN SCHOOL
MISSION STATEMENT

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does

Love is a battle

Love is a war

Love is growing up

 --James Baldwin

The JBS Core Values

Respect for:

  • Humanity

  • Diversity

  • Intellect

  • Truth

Commitment to:

  • Peace 

  • Justice 

  • Democracy

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