The Power of Respect

Alton Pitre and Sergio Marroquin working on their poem Respect

Alton Pitre and Sergio Marroquin working on their poem Respect

On Sunday, June 12th, InsideOUT Writers joined LA County’s Probation Department and the Human Relations Commission for the first-ever Inter-Group Relations: Respect 101 Symposium at Central Juvenile Hall.  A diverse panel, which included Big Boy, KPWR/Power 106 radio host; Laura Diaz, CBS News anchor; and Franky Carrillo, a formerly incarcerated adult, spoke to more than 200 detained youth offering messages of hope, inspiration and encouragement.  The Bricks, a multi-cultural youth music group, provided the day’s entertainment, blending rock and hip-hop with soulful melodies and hard-hitting social justice lyrics.


IOW’s Writing Program students also shared the stage and recited powerful pieces written specifically for the day.  For two weeks prior to the event, IOW’s creative writing classes used respect, tolerance and diversity as topics for discussion and prompts for writing exercises.  From these class exercises, several pieces were recited at the symposium.


To close the symposium, two IOW Alumni, Alton Pitre and Sergio Marroquin – both of whom had been incarcerated at Central – recited an original piece.  Alton, an African American and Sergio, a Latino, co-wrote a poem entitled Respect.  These outstanding young men used examples from their lives on the “outs” to encourage the detainees to respect each other and work together, regardless of the racial differences others may try to exploit.  Below is an excerpt from Respect:


…Respect isn’t just a word

Respect is to love

You can’t find it with a push or a shove

How can a dove fly in peace while ducking and dodging slugs?

Respect is like an ultimate high

But injecting it the wrong way can lead to a deadly surprise

Leading to another mother’s watery eyes

Just because one couldn’t accept the simplicity of diversity

We shall advance positively

And when I say advance, I don’t mean from the halls to the penitentiary

We’re all the same, despite ethnicity

We all fall under the same race

Which lands on humanity…


IOW was honored to be a part of such an impactful and inspirational event, and applaud the Probation Department and Human Relations Commission for their efforts.