Category Archives: Letters

Proof of a Mentality Shift: “I’ve come so far vs I have so far to go!”

Proof of a Mentality Shift:

“I’ve come so far vs I have so far to go!”

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n32302230_31383463_1268-1I’m sitting here in my dimly lit cabin on the Laguardia tarmac. The breeze stream is hitting nice and crisp in the face. I had my eyes closed and was bound to fall asleep. But the breeze reminds me to be in my present.

I’m here, headed to Indianapolis and Terre haute, Indiana, for a homecoming ceremony. In so many ways I’m returning to the scene of my manhood training. The place and time where I became who I am.

I immediately began to think about the track team. Sitting in my chair, I ran over my talking points. And how I need to email them to the coaches. How I needed to ask them to have paper and pencils ready for the team. Just as a back up… I’m actually more interested in them taking notes in their phones and sending it to one to two accountability partners. Someone to hear and open them up beyond their limits and dreams.

Its sentimental yo! This all started on a whim. I can remember when I used to daydream about coming back and supporting the team in some way, shape, or form. Everything I’ve ever accomplished in my young life, I feel started when I was accepted and embraced on this team as a scholarship and talented athlete. I remember early in my professional journeys knowing that opportunities were opened to me only because of the space track held on my resume.

I’m stunned and a bit overwhelmed that not only do I get to talk to some of the current track beasts on the yard. But I also get to bring my homies with me! Two of my frat brothers, and my pledge daughter are gonna be in the house sharing and re-nourishing the community we grew up and bonded in. I’m so proud and honored that they’re even willing to rock with me and take a break from the festivities to put in that work!

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Speaking of frat… my line brothers, the seven of us together, will be back together, for the first time, since we were even “introduced”. SUPREMACY, the Alpha Boys whose name alone caused a slight uproar, is finally re-forming on our Voltron steez. April 10, 2005 is the day we were introduced to the yard – and from that night, we’ve appeared in chunks and in sections, but never in our final form.

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I’m so happy to share this with y’all. These boys turned men – supported me in becoming the man I am today! My Guys, my Sandz, my Brothers, my Everything are coming back. I’m nervous and relieved. These are the kats that I slept in storefront basements with. On cardboard boxes and potato sacks. Like where the fuck did we find potato sacks at!?!?! My boys is who I learned “Will yourself through – until you find a way!” with and from.

We have been through so much, and what makes me proud and fortified is that, we were broken by our achievements. My line brothers worked their fucking asses off yo! These dudes graduated, found jobs, relocated, re-educated and remodeled their lives relent-lessly! We learned a hustle together and… if my success and drive is a proof of anything it’s that Supremacy, the Jewel Line from Zeta Rho Death Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha, Incorporated indeed live(d) up to their name!

Seeing brothers, and the extended family they provided for me will be the blessing of the year. (As they continue to roll in one after the other)

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“I’ve come so far” – is what I felt at Indiana State University. It was a useful way to think and be back then 2003 – 2007. I operated from a stance of aw and uber appreciation for everything I was given.

“I have so far to go!” – is the moniker I’m shifting to now. It’s whats pushed me to multitask and trust myself to push my limits even while I’m away. I have two workshops and community gatherings scheduled this weekend. I’m here in this earth to make moves. I’m here on this earth to push my talents. And I’m so happy to be coming back to the place that taught me all of this prepared to do even more for the community that when I first left!

P

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We Made it – BEDA Day 31 of 31

Blog Everyday in August We Made it –

BEDA Day 31 of 31

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everythingispossible skoolhaze.com

Its been a long month. Quick time of reflection…

I’ve completed a lot.

… launched a website

… filled to incorporate my business

… turned 31 years of age

… attended two personal discovery workshops

… created over 100 powerful relationships with new members of my network

… created and printed business cards

… struggled through challenges with my partner, and here

... redefined my relationships with my friends and family

… declared to produce a wellness conference in December 2016

… declared that I will have my own living space within the next 365 days

… declared that I will make an additional $3,000 income each month

… received the results from my first photoshoot, oh and here too.

… learned how to not dampen my brilliance

… agreed to support with 3 wellness workshops next month (How to develop you Nonprofit & 501c3, How to develop a video coaching platform for your business, and a Lifetime Fitness and Health Goal Workshop)

… and now blogged everyday

… and I’m actually rushing THIS post because my biz partner and I need to go follow up on an invoice we put in about 3 months ago worth 4-figure invoice we submitted for some transformation work we completed with a client.

takeeverychance skoolhaze.com

The point of this month was to STRETCHHHHHH myself. I believe I’ve completed that hands down. I’m claiming a new life of bold declarations for my life! I hope you all have enjoyed the BEDA  posts. I’ve used it as a tool to get me back into the game here. Thank you for your support.

This is ONLY a glimpse at whats in store. I hope you are inspired to challenge yourself to see how you can distribute your brilliance around the world. Corny, but I’m being honest!

P

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BEDA = Blog Every Day in August

Trusting Life’s Timing – BEDA Day 9 of 31

I’m Trusting life’s timing –
Beda day 9 of 31

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Scrolled across this on my timeline. Couldnt help but feel ‘chosen’ to see this right now.

I’m currently on my way to a new beginning. Im meeting someone new, for the first time since my break up.

Ive reconciled the break up on my mind. Ultimately, the decision to break up was the best decision at the time. Any other choice would have been selfish for either him or me. At first i was a little hurt that i lost my boyfriend. Its been a minute since i had one of those.

It was him who, ask me to be with him. I… didnt think we were really ready. We leaped anyways. Moving from friends to… a new thing. We never got the opporutnity to make that new thing right we never tried to define it and it broke us.

Living inside each moment. Im actually ok. My feelings were hurt for a second. But, you were right. Were better off apart. Were stronger apart.

It never felt like it at the moment, but in hindsight we were both bending our light. I was fully invested and kind of ok with the new experiences i was having. But you were right. This is the time we both have to beam as bright as we can. And… that couldnt have happened together. Right now. Given where we each are.

I learned so much and there truly usnt much to criticize in you. Its not worth it. And it wouldnt be authentic.

I do kind of worry that ill be just another memory to you. That…. would be the loss of such a great friendship. My boy that I enjoyed movies and museums and home workouts and spectacular-spectacular arguments with.

Yall, they were so great, lol. They were comedy! We argued three times. Once in Fort Greene Park, once somewhere that I cant remember, and of course the legendary battle we had at the New World Trade Observation Deck. I didnt get any picuters cuz i spent the whole time mad at some dumb shit he said as we got on the elevator. We amassed a 90$ wine bill from the sky bar. Off FOUR wines. Un-expected!!! LoL. I left from our failed bar convo – had to hop in a cab to high tail it to this NYCMENTEACH reception. One lesson i learned is how to keep a straight face in public, when it feels like your personal life is in shambles.

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😉

We made it thru tho. You made me stronger. Its a shame we can’t be together longer. You were there when i found my strength.

No regrets

No more rambles

Dear Director of Admissions, A Grad School Production

Dear Director of Admissions, A Grad School Production:

A Follow Up Letter For Future Grad School Enrollment

The following is a letter I sent to a graduate school advisor shortly after attending the Idealist Graduate School College Fair in the city. This letter has been sitting in draft for about 1.5 years now. I want to say I sent this to the advisor I met from an ivy institution. Its been so long that I can’t clearly remember. I was exploring my negotiation skills. Hoping that if I reached out with my needs he would try to meet me halfway.

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Dear Director of Graduate Admissions,

It was an honor to meet you at the Idealist Grad School Fair. I really appreciated your time, and thoughtful responses to my questions. I wanted to reach out to follow up with some more thoughtful inquiries I had about the program there at your [Graduate School of Education] (GSE). I apologize for the length here, but I wanted to convey a clearer picture of who I am as a potential GSE student.

Personal Vision:

I’m currently working in NYC Department of Education as a High School Special Education Teacher. I’m in my third year in the classroom, and have recently finished my Masters of Urban Education (Special Education Instruction) coursework at Long Island University, Brooklyn. I’m also the elected Union Chapter Leader (United Federation of Teachers) for my school building and team. Currently my biggest challenge is building a cohesive and trusting team of teachers, and driving effective and collaborative communications between my school’s administration and its teaching staff, through the education and implementation of our collectively bargained contract agreement.

Prior to this, I worked in the non-profit sector doing leadership development work and postsecondary education technical assistance for YouthBuild USA. I entered YouthBuild as an Americorps Vista as a midwestern transplant eager to relocate to the east coast and enter the professional world. Youthbuild is an international network of community programs working to provide academic, vocational, and service learning experience to young marginalized students in economically unstable communities around the globe. There, I traveled around the country and for three years worked to organize the program’s alumni, student-leadership representatives, and program staff via postsecondary access and best practice conferences.

In the distant future, I see myself working with philanthropic foundations and citizens to help craft targeted and developmental community programs and initiatives within marginalized communities. I also would like to open a leadership academy of my own, to help develop budding community and social development educators, organizer, and activists.

In the near future, I see myself running effective and innovative community and academic development programs for municipal governments targeted to their marginalized citizens. I would spend my time writing, and running workshops at various professional development conferences, and engaging in research and application development through on -the-ground community and mentoring programs.

I’ve included some questions I have about your graduate school experience. Maybe we can set up a phone conference to discuss some of the topics?

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Quality:

  1. How can I get the most out of your GSE program?

Personal Experience:

  1. What would you have done differently during your time as a GSE student?
  2. What made you a strong student for GSE and through GSE?

Cultural Diversity:

  1. As an educator, historical perspective in connection with culturally dominant educational theory is an area of macro-level focus via my pedagogy. To your knowledge, have people of color expressed any doubt or second thoughts about attending a graduate school there? How does the university address the importance of incorporating a diverse, culturally well-rounded and respectful perspective into its curriculum and assessment practices?
  2. What makes your GSE the strongest place to get this education for me as a Black and Male scholar? Why your school over Harvard? Howard? NYU? Brown?

Cohorts:

  1. Growing up, my most meaningful and immersive experiences have come when I’m engaged in a cohort learning model. What would the African American Male population look like in my cohort if I were to take classes at your GSE? How does the GSE work to create a strong cohort experience for its students at-large?

Alumni Organization(s) and Engagement:

  1. What student organizations/alumni associations would I have access to, or be able to engage with for mentorship purposes? In addition, what orgs and associations would I be able to volunteer my time and skills to?

Library: 

  1. What are some of the strengths of the school’s library/knowledge banks?

Career/Internship Experiences:

  1. What type of career and internship options have been made available to students upon completion of the program?

Respectfully,

P

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Yes, the search has begun again for another… new training program. 

I’m focused man.

Teacher, Tell Me about Life and Niggers

Teacher, Tell Me about Life and Niggers:

A classroom and email conversation with two Black-Male students

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I recently received an email from a Black male student asking me to explain life to him. He’s an older student and this is the first time I’ve taught him at the school. This was a first time I’ve had a student reach out for such poignant information. The following day, before I could respond, he told me that he and a friend, also in my class, were riding the train the night before talking to each other, and they kept saying the word Nigga.

Somewhere through the journey they confessed having made an older woman cry due to their reckless public vulgarity. It was then that I found out why my student had reached out to me about life the evening before.

Both students told me inconsistent stories about the events as they happened in real time, jokingly placing blame on each other, in a denial-deflection-comedic-confession with each other.

In the moment, there was work to be done, so, I expressed sincere dissappointment in their actions and inability to manage their behavior in context, and specifically with regard to the elder, then redirected them to their work with intentions to reply in detail via email.

The following was my email response:

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What’s up y’all.

Ok, my bad that it’s taken me so long to respond. I wanted to make sure I sent something thoughtful back. Here’s some feedback.

Nigga Response

It’s a dreadful word. It’s used to describe a group of people stolen from their land, and bred to be enslaved-captured people here in the American continents. The African people when I visited don’t call themselves nigga. The enslaved Africans were renamed Negroes by the European and other geographic people. It has been so ingrained that those African people have now taken to calling themselves Negroes instead of what they truly were and are. That’s why it’s a bad thing to hear so many Black/African people say Negroes/Nigga/Niqqa/Nicca. It’s a word of negativity and weakenss. The moment you stop calling yourself and your loved ones that word you start to get a stronger grip on the world, your history, and your role now in it. I hope that made sense. Here is a link to some phrases/meanings of negro throughout our recent history. I found this really useful for my own knowledge about 4 years ago.

I view y’all as so much more than niggers, niggas, you know all the spellings. In real life, I view myself as a young King. Everyday Paladin, the young King walks into the classroom. Everyday I’m greeted by young Warriors [Student 1] and [Student 2]. But as long as you’re calling yourself a nigger you’re never going to realize that. Nigger and King are opposites. Nigger and Warrior are opposites. Nigger and whatever you want to be known as are probably opposites.

The lady was probably mortified that y’all couldn’t edit the word out even if you tried. I get really sad too when I see kids out and they just can’t control it. We’ve been taught to say it. It has power over you. And that’s not good bro. But the good thing is it’s easy to stop. You just have to choose a different word to say. In college my frat brother started saying ninja, then we all started saying ninja. Then somewhere along the line I started saying homie. Now I even say bro. I say fam. I even say King. Choose something and roll with it. I try my absolute best not to call people that I love nigga.

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Fashion –

Y’all ask me and I never really remember in the moment. I get a lot of stuff from thrift stores. My regular stuff is from Levis, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, stuff I see on Instagram, and sometimes the vendors on the streets. I normally check the sales. But will spend real money every once and a while for stuff that will last like jackets, bookbags, and boots. I rarely pay over 50 for a shirt or pants. Normally never more than 70 for shoes. Anything more prolly just isn’t worth it. Watch your money and save your money. A lot of my stuff is like 5 to 10 years old. When you buy stuff that fits well it lasts longer in my opinion.

Tutoring Time –

I’m available everyday during lunch:

  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday – [Location] – Lunch
  • Tuesday/Thursday – [Location] –  Lunch

I also try to stay after school for at least 20 to 30 minutes trying to cool down and wrap up loose ends of the day. If no one comes I bounce. I hustle outside of work and get tired if I’m not on the move. Trust y’all are always welcome to tutoring and after school-time. Just come, and we’ll find something to do.

Hustle

Y’all are smart. Y’all run the yard and I love it. But I need you both to step it up. You both set the tone for everyone else. I need you guys to work with me & [Co-teacher] in the classroom. Drive the attention to the learning. You aren’t horrible, but you aren’t hustling either. I need you both grabbing these knowledge points. Right now and even if you don’t have me anymore. You both have talent and like a team I need you to push your squad, and me and [Co-teacher], the coaches. Push your talents on the basketball court and in my classroom please. I definitely am trying to bring you my A+ work and I need y’all to help me be great by doing the same please.
Football-Training 

I’m long winded. Enjoy your weekends. Be safe.

P

Is homosexuality equivalent to femininity?

Is Homosexuality equivalent to femininity?

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*The following is a letter received from a SkoolHaze reader. Names were changed to protect privacy*

HI,
Well I know this is completely random.. I don’t know if I am intruding into your personal space. I am Tanvi, I am pursuing bachelors in computer science here in India.

Lately I have been concerned about the LGBT status in our country. I am currently working on a project towards bringing awareness that LGBT individuals are not “unnatural” as many conservative heads proclaim. As a part of this I have been trying to understand gay love, about which I know nothing at all.

I would like to interact with you, really looking forward to make a new friend… hoping to hear from you.

With lots of love,
Tanvi

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Hey Tanvi,

Sorry to hear about the injustices going on in your home country. I’ll do my best to help you with your project. What parts of gay love do you want to know about?

Skool

kanye smerk

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Hi Skool,
I am happy to hear from you. Well I want to know few things:

1. Is being gay in any way associated with being more feminine? I suppose it’s just the sexual orientation.

2. I would love to hear any gay love proposals and what kind of love he looks forward to. Like for example a girl dreams that her guy should be someone that is really caring, understanding and there is this iconic going on knees proposal and all that. What would the dream boy for a gay person be like and the dream proposal?

Having said that anything that you can share I would be happy to hear 🙂

Yours lovingly,
Tanvi

Cool here we go Tanvi,

  1. Is being gay in any way associated with being more feminine? I suppose its just the sexual orientation.

Sure. Some people associated gayness with femininity. Some people, as soon as they learn you’re gay, want to know if you’re self-described as masculine or feminine. I would characterize these people as simple to say the least. Immediately, I know what type of person I’m dealing with, in America, when I hear this question. Especially because this question mostly comes from other men that are also within the gay spectrum. When men on the spectrum ask this question they are almost always probing for sex. And they are almost always simple-minded. Not because they’re probing for sex, but because they equate sufficient sex down to a handful of descriptors, one of them being one’s self proclaimed masculinity/femininity, which we can agree has no play on a person’s ability to provide sexual gratification. 

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What does feminine mean? Its my understanding that feminine means a lot of things. In its essence it is a neutral term. Meaning something prescribed or most frequently connected to females/women. There in its essence is not positive or negative value ascribed to the previous sentence. Or at least there shouldn’t be. Here in America many of my peers very recently even have taken the time to talk about how strong women are in 2015. They are leading families, they are leading companies, they are leading their communities, they are doing it all. Think Serena Williams. There’s nothing inherently weak about her. However, for some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves to create a society across the globe that trembles and infuses shame whenever men are connected with anything culturally-prescribed as inherently feminine. At the same time, we do the opposite whenever a woman demonstrates a behavior culturally-prescribed as inherently masculine. Here, we infuse pride, success, and achievement into the women and scenarios attached. 

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I got a little off topic there. In short, yes, there are indeed some connections between gay men and culturally-prescribed female traits. However, keep in mind that these are only some of the many things that are connected or indicative of homosexual men as an active subset of humanity. I think it is imperative to note that these culturally-prescribed feminine traits do not serve to pump up or dismantle anything within the gay culture, or humanity, as femininity, itself, is not a singularly positive or negative trait(s) to express. At different levels of my maturity, I have struggled to continuously develop my understanding of “normal” behavior.

While we’re working to open up our communities to be more inclusive of our gay populations, and marginalized populations in general, we have to be sure not to continue to instill negatively-framed language or vocabulary against any of the members of our communities. 

  1. I would love to hear any gay love proposals and what kind of love he looks forward to. Like for example a girl dreams that his guy should be someone that is really caring, understanding and there is this iconic going on knees proposal and all that. What would the dream boy of a gay be like and the dream proposal.

I think love is love. We are entering an era now where men and women all over are taking advantage of this opportunity to marry and enter life-long commitments with the ones they love regardless of what they look like. That opportunity wasn’t available a generation ago. I’m interested to see how the gay community here in America works to develop marriage and love in its own image, shaping larger American culture.

With that being said, I can say that personally I’ve never really thought about an engagement story. To be honest, I would really just prefer to have someone to love me unconditionally. Someone that was fully interested in building and leaving marks on this world long after we ourselves stop moving about it. That’s the kind of dream guy I’m interested in… He doesn’t really need to do much else but love me and we’re good. Hopefully I’ll work on getting more creative here in future. I will say, that one of my gay associates, seems to be engaged to his lover. And its humbling, annoying, and inspiring to see all of his engagement-to-wedding pictures on Instagram. His image alone is helping me, frame what love in the future may be for me one day.

Hope this helped,
Skool

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What do you think? Share with someone you think will have an opinion on this idea. Come back and share your comments below.

Also, if you have a question, feel free to shoot it to me. I will do my best to answer.