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    We Want to Share Jelani’s Poem with You

    By Unusual Suspects Theatre Company 5 years agoNo Comments


    I know how it is when you locked up in the pen
    Tryna lock a brother up like they committed a evil sin.

    So I don’t agree with the system
    Tryna tell me just to listen

    You locked a little boy up
    On trial like a grown up.

    Just fighting for his life
    On me that ain’t even right.
    Strike and a murder, damn that remind me of my brother

    He got tired of the abuse
    So he put them hands to the use.

    Another day to come
    I’ma do this for my son.

    – Jelani, an incarcerated 17-year-old  


    This poem was written in our program by Jelani while he was incarcerated. Over 75% of youth involved with the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic victimization. Oftentimes, this repeated exposure to trauma results in extremely high-needs youth that are locked in a place with limited services to help them get healthy.

    In the last 10 years, The Unusual Suspects has brought our rehabilitative programs to nearly 1,000 system-involved youth like Jelani. Our theatre programs are built on the concepts of improvisation, ensemble building and character development and are known to aid in self-control, anger management, interpersonal communications and problem solving skills which are all key components of trauma informed care.

    In the last year alone we worked with over 100 kids in the juvenile justice system. This is hard work and to be most effective, we must constantly adapt to the changing needs of the youth along the requirements of the Probation system we work within. We’re grateful for our partners inside & out and, as an organization, strive to ensure the consistency essential to giving these young men and women opportunities for a brighter future.

    We need your help to stay nimble enough to continue bringing in-depth, high quality arts education and mentoring to these struggling young people. Your year-end, tax deductible contributions power the healing and rehabilitation our theatre workshops provide and get us closer to achieving our vision of a world where all youth are given the opportunities and support they need to succeed.

    Transformative change happens when we work together and every dollar directly supports our mission—an amount that is meaningful to you, is meaningful to US!

    On behalf of Jelani and the thousands of incarcerated youth like him in Los Angeles County, thank you for your support!


    Support US

    Did you know …

    For as little as $10 a month you can provide essential supplies like pens and paper for our young playwrights to express themselves.

    For $50 a month you can provide specialized training for our dedicated teaching artists as they incorporate the latest in trauma-informed healing into all of our curriculum.

    During this season of giving, learn more about what your contributions can provide and change lives with US all year long! 



    Sustain US
    The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood. Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.




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