March 22, 2012
Students from Olympic/Alliance were very fortunate to have an opportunity to listen to Richard 'Homeboy' Santana today as he delivered his very inspirational message. Richard first appeared on stage as 'Seņor Chocolate', a tough-talking Latino gangster, with trade-mark baggy pants, shades, and a trench coat. Using a thick Spanish accent to make his point, he begins with accounts of his personal gang-life experiences to illustrate gang attitudes and behaviors. He challenges his audience to critically assess their own perceptions. He asks them to acknowledge the fact that violence and hopelessness will continue to affect our communities if apathy persists.
After sharing his gang-life experiences, Seņor Chocolate presents The Change; an apt metaphor long to be remembered. While shedding his gang clothing, he explains The Change that occurred in his life - and can occur in anyone's life. Richard Santana emerges, dressed in a shirt and tie - as a college graduate, educator, counselor, colleague and friend.
A once tough-talking Latino gangster, now a
college-educated, nationally recognized speaker, Richard Santana’s journey
provides a powerful and graphic illustration of cultural relevance in schools.
His moving accounts of his gang-life experiences and how they shaped his
beliefs, attitudes and self-expectations are inspiring, unsettling and
thought-provoking. He challenges his audience to critically assess their own
perceptions and helps them to recognize how these perceptions influence work
relationships, effectiveness and productivity.
His message is one of making choices: between hope and hopelessness, between evaluating young people based upon our own standards or accepting them in the context of their own, between giving up on our most challenged youth or truly becoming their advocates.