I’m quiet about my profession. Outside of this here blog. I rarely volunteer that I teach. Or that I’m a special education teacher. Or that I teach students in Brooklyn. Or that my students are all Black and Latino. Or that they’ve had a few academic failures in that pathway to my high school’s door. Or that they can be… rambunctious to the untrained eye.
That media, they sure is good at what they do! Every single time someone finds out I am a teacher, the first thing they comment on is my patience to work with those crazy kids, or the fact that they could never work with bad ass kids. Everytime. It always makes for an awkward introduction. I’m normally compelled to contextualize black-adolescent behavior in historical context for my new comrade real quick. It always seems to bring the other person to a hard stop when I completely reframe the conversation about how bountiful my students are in every which way and how I wish everyone could teach so they could enjoy the same feeling.
I mean, when I tell yall that there NOTHING better than teaching a classroom of my kids I mean it. They are such amazing vessels to be surrounded by. My kids burn off energy and brilliance like its been out of style since style was style. I love working with young wo/men that are developing into our nation’s newest and brightest minds. Everyday my mind is blown from their ability to spontaneously combust into catastrophic clashings sometimes of joy and other times out of terror. Everyday I learn something new from my kids. Each day I’m humbled with their knowledge and understanding of the world. Each day, their resilience reminds me of how easy I’ve had it in my life so far. Each day they push me to come with my A-game to even share the same space with them. Honestly, and I could drop the fuckin mic right here. These kids have me on my fucking A-game. Everything I wasn’t in track and field, I am for them. Nothing in my life has made me want to succeed as bad as these kids.
Everyday they suckle on every last piece of energy and knowledge that I have to bestow upon them. And each day I feel like I gotta reup and find some new shit to feed them. If I’m not nourished, in the traditions and the virtues and spectacle of my own being, then how can they be? They show me more respect than I feel like I’ve earned and deserve. Each day, they welcome me into their midst when they don’t know how raunchy and pathetic I may have been the night before. They accept me, and expect me! Even when I come home and struggle to accept and expect myself!
These kids fight-fight everyday against a society that has already fucked them so over-over-over that they great grandkids’ futures are probably already on some statisticians desktop being plotted and pointed for gross profit-propagandalization. And the real shame is n****s prolly great-great-great-great-quadruple-great grandkids have already literally been accounted for. We’re livin in a world where we’re all statistics. Period. And even still my hittas hustle for opportunity and perspective that the layman takes for granted. Everyday I see my kids cast out into the depths – hungry for knowledge and a success that even I struggle to envision and create for my damn self.
I know I can’t pay it justice. But… there’s absolutely nothing like walking into a room of people 9 years younger than me – and trying to give them every piece of me that I have so they can do great things in this fucked up world. These kids feed my soul. Oh my god. Its so insane. Knowing my seats are filled with stardust, blazing bright and high in the sky.
I don’t need no fucking book to say it. No fucking body to say what I know I can say.
I love teaching my little Black kids! And don’t nothin feed me more than being in a class with these Black kids! They the real ones with soul.
I’ve been an observer since before I could remember. Academically, this skill has helped me take quality notes that pushed me through many a test. Being observant has helped me shield my way through life to get to where I am today. Now, and embattled with my former self, I am far more assured in my knowledge. To be particular, I have better control over my ability to use my knowledge to lean in most instances toward the side of action.
Many times I find myself having to be the first to make the movement amongst my peers. I prefer to think of this movement through a leadership tinted frame. I haven’t had to kick any doors in just yet. But, I am normally the first to grease myself up to meet a problem head on, and have found a cosily anxious place for myself in doing so. Earlier this year, I watched a panel discussion hosted by the New School titled “Are You Still a Slave?” featuring activists and authors Janet Mock and bell hooks. In it Ms. Mock powerfully states, “this little space that I have in this world, is mine.” (Mock, “Are You Still A Slave @ 27:00 mins”, 2014). Janet lets us know that she has control of the space she inhabits, and whether or not we accept it is an issue she’s not concerned with.
Feeling empowered, and in control of my own space and trajectory in life is an extremely fortifying feeling. Janet shows us that it’s ok to take ownership of the space we individually control in this world. As a minority, taking ownership of that space professionally and academically constantly puts me in situations where I’m left feeling exposed and erosive. The unwanted texture is also apparent in many of my long running personal relationships as well. Its something I’ve battled with as I’ve come to understand and play with knowledge, thankfully at this more receptive stage in my life. I’ve tried to make it clear to everyone that my aim is to engage in this fellowship and get every last drop of worth out of this personal investment that I’m embarking through.
What else but a controlling emotional “devil” so blinded American white intelligence that it couldn’t foresee that millions of black slaves, “freed,” then permitted even limited education, would one day rise up as a terrifying monster within white America’s midst? The white man’s brains that today explore space should have told the slavemaster that any slave, if he is educated, will no longer fear his master. History shows that an educated slave always begins to ask, and next demand, equality with his master. (X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1992)
The battle between dynamic confidence and neutral observance is perhaps the current zone of proximal development for me. This space is ideal for my role as an educator, academic, and burgeoning activist. What space does one who appreciates education occupy, when they have tried so earnestly to use the tool of education to enlighten and empower himself? The pull, for now, has eroded my surface, exposing pores filled to the bristle with newly molten passion seeping out and messing everywhere I move. I’m at a state where I feel I’m constantly exposing my knowledge and leaving its unwanted residue behind in my daily interactions. Nonetheless, these interactions serve as evidence of my growth as a man over these past few years. Even now, my observing eye, casts a frictious gaze upon my words – calling me back to the rubric tasked to assess the credentialed value of my scholarship. Yet with every word typed I feel lured further away, allowing for a freedom of space to let my piecemeal stories tell their tale as personally and satisfactorily as possible.
At this point in my life, passion is the pheromone that greets my peers before I even step around the door’s edge. I feel, on right now. My navigation and GPS are perfectly targeted at the moment. I don’t exactly know what that means, but I have progressed, I can feel it, and that’s a powerful bath that I want to bask in for the moment. It’s difficult to craft words clear enough to explain my concepts of teaching and learning. For me, it’s far easier to find words for these situations once I’ve removed myself from the context for a while. Only then, am I fully able to benefit from the experiences, activities, cognition, metacognition, emotions, interactions, etc… that contributed to my growth in that moment.
Knowledge, as a concept, is boundless. It’s almost crippling to be tasked to boil down what I’ve learned into words for this analysis. To be concise, knowledge can be represented through infinite numbers of schema that we lay on top of each day, like maps. These schemata allow us citizens to interact with, and maneuver through, the institutional landscapes of our societies to meet our daily needs and wants as we please. There are probably more schema than there are grains of sand on the globe, but some examples may include: privilege, high fashion, urban education, gender, gender-bias, poverty, opportunity, etc…
I wouldn’t define knowledge via claims, see common core standards, explainable through definition, always accessible through current assessment, or self-stimulating. The closest I will come to defining knowledge is the process in which an individual lives an experience where skills are gained, understanding of something is accomplished, and/or curiosity for more interaction with said experience is demonstrated in any combination of social phenomena. I also want to make the declaration that knowledge is contextual in that societies deem certain knowledge as meaningful and others as less so.
Asking one’s student to frame his own knowledge while still inside of that context is a bit oxymoronic to me. To contextualize in Big Bang fashion – I will provide a starting point to frame my knowledge development:
In February 2012, approximately 2.5 years ago, I officially received word that I had been accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows program. I used the remaining four months to pack up my Boston life. It wasn’t long before I was stuffing my two large suitcases underneath the Bolt Bus and heading full steam ahead to New York City for the beginning of the Cohort 23 Fellows orientation. It was at that point that I decided that this would be my very own modern day hero’s journey. I’ve never made a clear version of this lens, and to do so now seems inauthentic. How would I handle this situation if I were an ancient African Prince charged with empowering and protecting my citizens? Through this lens, I’ve worked to soak up everything from my surroundings. Using words to describe the knowledge I’ve gained feels limiting and abrasive compared to how I’ve worked to view this process. However, in service to the program, I would say that the LIU coursework has taught me to consciously engage with my environment in the following ways:
Cultural/New York City – being purposeful and optimally navigating transactions with systems and institutions, proactively aligning energy to support my workloads, exposing myself to globally and geographically diverse cultures, flowing with the developmental power of competition.
Academic/Professional – Theory: African American education theory, Popular/Mainstream American education theory, academic-social-emotional disabilities, prejudice, privilege, various cultural institution(s) of American society. Skills: thinking of and creating thoughtful/scaffolded lessons, units, and individual education plans. Defining a research focus, scavenging for and analyzing resources, implementing changes to my practice through these resources, and analyzing the effectiveness of these changes through my target’s measured performance. Differentiation of materials, Professional and Academic self-reflection, productivity and time management.
Personal – Resilience, Confidence, Empathy, Love, Passion, Strength, Self-value, Self and Cultural Exploration, Personhood, Belonging, Leadership. Networking, Mentoring, and various other social and emotional development skills.
Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot during my two years of treacherous teaching, gregarious graduate school, and nouveau New York City. It’s scary to admit, but I’m not the same Paladin I was two years ago. I mean… I loved who I was, a beaming 26 year-old coming into the fellowship, freshly clipped wings flapping freely and growing strong in my protected Boston shell. Finding comfort in being a different version of myself is probably the force that has been making my personal relationships so texturally different as of late.
I’m a confident person now, and I say this from a humble place, but also having recognized the need to congratulate myself for the growth I have lived through and witnessed. Let me say now, my mission in life is to always be true to that humble, grateful, altruistic boy nurtured in the Chicago suburbs. But, I am not him anymore, and that’s ok. Not long ago my friend from undergrad received her Master’s in School Counseling. One of the first things she said when I called to congratulate her was, “Homie you can’t tell me nothin, cuz Bitch I got a Master’s!” I died laughing… and hopefully you will too.
However, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized I can laugh with the phrase as opposed to at it. To be clear, it’s not that having a graduate degree is a status symbol proving to the world that I’m good enough, though for many it can be, as it’s definitely already on my resume. It’s that through this rigorous process I’ve experienced and learned more than I could imagine about this world, this country, its people, their customs, and the ways I can measurably think and produce around through and to these entities. This schema, fortunately brings immeasurable value to the ways in which I can continue to add on to the positive and productive canon that supports our development here on on Earth.
I’ve learned so much through this program. With LIU’s support I’ve gained an understanding of, and first hand practice with, structure, bureaucracy, education, work ethic, creativity, historical pedagogy, Paladin, and of course my own teaching practice. One of the crucial pieces of knowledge I’ve gained, and have tried to infuse into all of my interactions since, has been that opportunity is ever present! I don’t know how I came to this revelation, as we’re not taught not to see opportunity. We’re taught to go against opportunity. We’re taught to be afraid of it and to wait for someone else to give it to us. Those that take opportunities are seen as maniacal and cunning individuals. This understanding of the Opportunity Paradox has helped me push myself to accept all incarnations of opportunity into my life, and to create it where at first there is none. To me, that is the truest realization of knowledge that I’ve come to hold in respects to this graduate program.
Recently one largest insurance companies selected for special training in this line fifteen college graduates of our accredited institutions and financed their special training in insurance. Only one of the number, however, rendered efficient service in this field. They all abandoned the effort after a few days’ trial and accepted work in hotels and with the Pullman Company, or they went into teaching or something else with a fixed stipend until they could enter upon the practice of professions. They thought of the immediate reward, shortsightedness, and the lack of vision and courage to struggle and win the fight made them failures to begin with. They are unwilling to throw aside their coats and collars and do the groundwork of Negro business and thus make opportunities for themselves instead of begging others for a chance. The educated Negro from the point of view of commerce and industry, then, shows no mental power to understand the situation which he finds. He has apparently read his race out of that sphere, and with the exception of what the illiterate Negroes can do blindly the field is left wide open for foreign exhibition. (Woodson, 2012, pp. 47 – 48)
I appreciate that I’ve gotten to a place where I can freely posture, virility exposed and all, thanks to my ability to view all situations through this opportunity context. Being able to create this confident and asset-based frame at-will feels almost dangerous to yield. I wish we all could imagine what this world would be like if more of us were able to view the world from this constructive frame. The more tactile strands of my knowledge have shown me that I can maneuver myself in and out of situations, and when we show up… it pays to be engaged. With this powerful weapon at my side, I am confident in my ability to use my values, skills, and gifts to make something happen for me in this field, and to bear the positive change I so desperately sought during my ignorant beginnings of this journey as an urban educator.
Ok, so my goal is to actually get this post out. I’ve tried to write this two times before this and I just ended up trailing off in a blur.
Life is so different for me now than it was for two full years ago. You see, I’ve realized that the time I spent in Boston is a memory now for me. For so long Boston was my life, it’s finally dawned on me that I’ve been in NYC long enough to have created new memories. And in order to do so I often pull back to my time and experiences in Boston. The Bean really was a starter city to prep me for East coast living. Now, being a near two year resident. I can even begin to pull on early experiences living in the city to help push me through to bigger and better with my future. I know that sounds weird – but I want to create history. I’ll say it, even though I feel like its one of those things they don’t like to hear black people say. Of course, my boy Kanye agrees.
We read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in my Sophomore English class this cycle. I love reading about Black/African history. It enriches my soul. Imagine that we’re all sitting around making our own history, stories that people will read and learn from and engage with and write about…etc… LoL. I mean, I definitely want this blog to be a part of that history. Y’all can think I’m crazy. I don’t even care anymore. #Kanyeshrug
I read it (The Narrative) for a second time this summer during my reading marathon. That was really dope by the way, and I can’t wait to do it again this summer. One of the books I’m really excited to get into is Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson. I got to steal some time and read the first two chapters a few weeks ago during winter break. I was a HUGE Discovery/History Channel/Documentary person growing up. I’ve heard stories about the evolution of humans, but conveniently I’ve never heard much about how this evolution took place on the African Continent. The early chapters of the book discuss this evolution and actually use really engaging language that is easy to understand and follow. In a nutshell it talked about how pre-humans evolved into barbaric humans. Then how barbaric humans turned into civilized humans living in ever growing groups that turned into actual civilizations. It also talks about how humankind went from being a matriarchal society to patriarchal society.
Speaking of making history…. I mean making historically wise decisions for myself. I’m facing a tough situation at work – again (see Schoolhouse Blues). Long story short I feel like admin has taken aim on me over some bullshit. She wasn’t happy with my peroformance, and as a result gave me some very low marks on my evaluation. The difference between this time and last time is I was actually prepared to talk about it and call her evidence into question. Our last few meetings have looked like this –
I feel like I’ve stepped into a battlefield over the past two weeks, and most folks are recklessly aiming somewhere in my vicinity. Work is a mess man. Classes are ending, Classes are starting, teams are changing to frame a bit of it. The amazing difference is that I actually know my value now and have been far less hesitant giving my opinion on why things that affect my work are the way they are.
I made a conscious effort to wake up and have an amazing and jam-packed Friday. And I was pretty successful. Outside of all of the other trimester ending activities listed about, I had an early morning IEP meeting that almost didn’t happen do to scheduling and communication challenges. IEP’s were one of the most daunting things to figure out 2 years ago. The paperwork behind the scenes is still a nightmare – and to be honest one of the few areas where the powers that be try to act as though I’m incompetent. None the less, the meeting went very well and was probably one of my strongest to date. I made a quick smartboard presentation that helped the fluency of the meeting. I may try to upload the pres once I wipe all the personal information.
Most importantly… and the only thing I’ve really been trying to share over the past few weeks is that I’ve FINALLY made my first curriculum. My post graduate prep course has finally finished its first iteration. I remember back in Boston there used to be all this talk about making a curriculum or finding curriculums that spoke specifically to the students were dealing with back then. Talk about being lost! I’ve finally made my first real curriculum and it feels great. The curriculum as is is far from perfect and there’s plenty of room for growth. But having the skeleton feels amazing! Some of the things I’m looking forward to incorporating this time around is more creative writing, more critical thinking, more activities, more take home resources, more technology skill development, and… better resources in general. If you know any 😉 def send them my way.
I cant think of much more to say. And of course, this was sooo much better in my head. But oh well. Just like the gym sometimes you just gotta get in there to get the kinks out so that next time things turn out even better.
So, I’ve had the audacity to start thinking about what’s next after this Masters of Urban Education degree is complete. People hate it when I say this, but I can’t really put into words what this experience has done for me. I’ve really tried to implement what I’ve learned about coasting on my talents versus agitating myself to reach new and uncharted successes in my life.
Thanks to Jullien Gordon, I’m thinking about looking into organizational leadership, strategy, and entrepreneurship courses. It’s a very early thought, but a thought none-the-less. If I could create a field of study or skill that I wanted to learn more about it would definitely be Social Entrepreneurship or Community and Public Leadership, something along those lines. There’s still plenty of time before I really need to know this information though. But if you know somethin about somethin let a pimp know! Especially if you have any leads on fellowship and scholarship programs out there because I’m definitely not tryna pay.
Why these programs? Well, I mean I’ve developed a thirst for knowledge and skill in teaching. For me, I think its safe to say that I’ve reached a point of perpetual curiosity to explore my knowledge and boundaries in education. However, through my education practice and readings I’ve also begun to really thinking about leadership. What is leadership both in theory and practice? Why do some people have it? I’m interested less in corporate leadership (MBA) and public sector leadership (MPA). I did start an MPA program at Northeastern University in Boston 3 years ago, but it just wasn’t the type of expertise I was really looking for. I’m not here for those industries. Civic Leadership sounds like something that would be right up my alley! I’m not sure if there is a program that has exactly what I’m after, which is cool because I’m always down to cross-pollenate educational experiences to get what I want in the long run 😉
Take a second to think about what you learned in 2013? What new things are you looking to learn more about in 2014? Where can you find these resources? Don’t limit yourself to books and classes at a traditional school, like me LoL. There’s also youtube, blogs, private classes, mentors, etc… Personally I plan on taking a sewing class this year by a young lady I found on Meetup.com, no certificate or pay increase needed. But I know once I’m done I’ll have learned a new skill I can always apply. Lets make sure we’re advancing our skills and knowledge in 2014.
Tucked away in the SkoolHaze back alleys are about 15 drafted reviews for the books I read this summer. I was on a reading binge from July to September. Initially it started as a #Read40ADay challenge. I was doing pretty well, reading on average about 70 pages a day until maybe… early August. My mind and eyes got tired and…. the world started to slow down. I was still able to get through quite a few books, many of which expanded my thinking and gave my brain great distress. For example, Paul Robeson’s Here I Stand and W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folks were extremely tedious and difficult to get through. Not only did I have to translate their formal language into something I could comprehend, but I also had to try to put myself in their time. The Souls of Black Folks was written in the early 1900’s and I felt the need to put myself in Dubois’ world in order to truly understand his story. This is sort of how Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children felt when I tried to read it before having taught a day in school. I picked it back up right after finishing my first year and it felt like Ms. Delpit was speaking to my soul. Other books like Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow forced me to analyze every word of every sentence that described the evolution of our criminal justice system. It became a sad soap opera that I couldn’t put down, and recommend everyone read.
Thankfully I’ve used a lot of what I consumed in my teaching practice and grad school papers. One day I may actually finalize the reviews and post them for your all. Until then check the list out below.
What are you readin?
Recommended Books – I highly recommend these books. These are all titles that I ended up creating my own table of contents as I knew I would be returning back to the book years later for sources and tips.
The Mis-Education of the Negro– Foundational Text for anyone educating black children or people. If you haven’t read this book and you teach African American students you should really take a second to see what Elder Woodson has to say. Its probably the most profound things I’ve heard about education theory for Black students, and it was written over a century ago.
The New Jim Crow– Great read for anyone who’s work or life is impacted by the criminal justice system. Compelling argument that highlights how the criminal justice system for over 200 years has worked to create poverty and a caste system in minority communities.
Trying to Get There– Great story about fighting for your own success in a market that isn’t used to your culture. I just loved being able to get a piece of Roderick’s story. And have actually taken to wearing bowties at work because of him.
Eleven Rings – The master coach. I admit the sexy cover sold me! Phil replays his youth as a basketball player and how it helped turn him into one of the most successful coaches in history. It was great seeing him make teams from players of individuals. I’m still hopeful I can use some of his tribe influenced techniques in my classes.
Other People’s Children– Amazing read that puts cultural communication differences into perspective. I would say read this if you have at least taught 1 year in a school setting. It made so much more sense once I was able to recall my own work-related situations where communication just simply wasn’t the same between my students and coworkers.
A Handbook for Teachers– Fan of Baruti Kafele’s work. He actually came and spoke at one of the conferences my old job put together. Motivational book that gives the reader so implementable tips for working with Black students.
Good Reads – Outside of The Narrative, these books are all a bit more specialized. I recommend them if you’re looking for specific tips and strategies in the areas listed.
Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males – Great book that highlights some strategies on working with Black male readers. As a Sped teacher its been a bit more difficult to implement these in an ICT setting. But I do feel like this book gave me a better perspective to assess my student’s literacy skills.
The Black Man’s Guide to Graduates School – I read this after I had already finished my 1st year of Grad School. Shout out to co-author Corey Guyton who got his Ph. D. from my alma mater Indiana State University. Great read if you’re thinking about going to grad school but not sure where to start. Book offers multiple perspectives from 6 different guys who all had different journeys to meet their success.
Narrative of Frederick Douglas – I read this in high school, but didn’t quite remember it. Great perspective builder for anyone who needs a refresher of Black/American history – how far we’ve come – and how far we still need to go.
Motivating Black Males to Achieve – Another book from Baruti Kafele. I’m in the middle of reading this now. I love that he approaches this work form a surplus perspective. It shows in his writing and its refreshing reading about Black youth from that perspective.
Unlabel – Motivation Maker. I’ve been reading this book for a while. It talks about Mark Ecko’s rise to fame with Ecko clothing, Complex Magazine and all his other business ventures. I love this book because every time I read it I end up putting it down to go work on SkoolHaze. Definitely worth the money.
Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys – Perhaps one of Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu’s founding works. Dr. Kunjufu is a voice for the Black Male scholar to speak about his own condition in society. The book was written in the 80’s and reflects some of popular black opinion from that time. But overall a great read for anyone wanting a deeper look at issues that may be affecting Black male success.
General Collection – These books didn’t give me groundbreaking new information, but they were interesting reads.
DreamKeepers– So, at one point we were asked to read a book that I didn’t agree with in our grad classes. The title of the book related to scare tactics that I just couldn’t stand behind in class. I went to the professor and she offered to incorporate an additional text for me and others. This is that text. I like DreamKeepers it kind of touches on the teaching and communication differences between White teachers and teachers of color.
Coming of Age: Rites of Passage – I would recommend this for people who have been through a Rites of Passage program themselves. The book gave me a language to use in describing and thinking about the pro’s and con’s of the process. I don’t know if it will be helpful to anyone without an intimate knowledge already though.
To Be Popular or Smart – Easy read. To be honest I can’t remember much from the book.
Motivating and Preparing Black Youth – Easy read. To be honest I can’t remember much from the book.
Teaching Matters – Great book written by two education scholars from my alma mater Indiana State University. They talked about how educators owe it to their profession to be and bring passion to their work.
The Warrior Method – This is a book I just started. It gives basic information about raising strong Black boys. The title is what caught me the most. But I haven’t read enough of the book to really speak about it.
The Alchemist – A book I’ve always wanted to read about reaching your personal legend, and creating doors where there were no doors before.
Angry Little Men – Oddly enough I didn’t have a problem with this title even though its similarly framed from a deficit standpoint. I don’t remember much about this book, but in the margins I wrote “This book answers how African American children (boys) can have a high academic self-concept even if they don’t perform well academically.”
Empire State of Mind – Anecdotal review of Jay’Z’s rise to fame and stardom. The authors interviews people close to Jay-Z and uses old newspaper articles to piece the story together. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re looking for more first hand information on Jay-z.
Juggling Elephants – One of the first books I read two or 3 years ago that began my library. It was the beginning of me figuring out how to effectively use my time to get what I want.
Fraternity – I’ve been eyeing this book forever. It’s the story of the group of Black men that were recruited to attend Holy Cross University on scholarship. The class was part of an integration push by the school officials. Some members of the cohort include Clarence Thomas, Theodore Wells a successful defense attorney, and Edward P. Jones a Pulitzer Prize winner. I started reading this book, but haven’t been pulled in by the story yet so I put it down. I plan to return one day.
Prince Among Slaves – Last but not least a book about a former African Prince sold into slavery here in the states. I loved learning about Ibrahima’s story. I haven’t finished the book yet but its historical facts mixed with anecdote.
Over the past two years I’ve been very purposeful in what I’ve consumed as inspiration, also known as the background noise that I fill my vessel with. This letter turned project is perhaps the manifestation of watching the Jean-Michel Basquiat documentary Radiant Child. Part of the film highlights Jean’s unique note taking style. I was always amazed at how different his notes were, they reminded me more of a newspaper than… an artist’s notebook. It’s said that he liked having his notes like this because it helped him cross pollenate his ideas. I think that’s a word I stole form my nonprofit days by the way. Cross-pollenation is when two completely dis-similar things (we’ll say ideas here) come together to create a baby. Most of the time the end result would be non-sensical rambles. But in the rare occasion that the lines meshed the result would be utter brilliance.
*First 5 minutes suggested*
Throughout the years I’ve talked about some of the different types of inspiration I’ve consumed and learned from including life-coaches, mentors, books, historical figures, my students, my peers, my family, art, the list is never-ending. I’ve actually started using audio versions of motivational and commencement speeches to give me that extra boost in the mornings or when I’m feeling sluggish. There’s nothing like an Eric Thomas or Oprah Winfrey speech to give you some clarity on why you’re doing whatever the hell you’re doing. The Purge, as an #Artsperiment, as I’ve deemed it, is the subconscious result of all of the stimuli I’ve consumed intentionally and not.
This project is probably a sum total of things I’ve seen from Basquiat, Beyonce, Kanye, Kendrick Lamar, Eric Thomas, Jullien Gordon, W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. Boyce, Dr. Ivory, Dr. Jawanza, Baruti Kafele, Oprah, Pharrell, Mark Ecko, Malcolm X, artists and writers alike around the world. This collection is a sort of manifestation of historical letters I’ve fumbled through time and time again by scholars from around the world. I see specks of Kanye – God symbolism, bits and pieces of Malcolm’s homemade education theory and hopefully molecules of his passion as well, packaging and audience consideration courtesy of Beyonce and my PR Professors, and definitely fragments of motivation and inspiration from Jullien and Eric Thomas.
The project itself germinated from the need to express myself, but I also am really interested in this idea of viewing myself as a vessel that projects the energy I consume.
Like a star, that energy radiates bits and pieces of what it consumes. Your mind, as the great canal, controls the gates to what comes in. Have you thought about what your gates have been accepting into your system? It’s empowering and a bit freaky to see the remnants of my inspirations present in my thoughts and ideas.
How can you use this to help you achieve your goals and desires quicker?
Established in 1984, the FEF’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program has increased the number of African Americans who have earned Ph.D.’s in historically underrepresented, crucial disciplines where African Americans have not historically enrolled and completed degree programs. The FEF has awarded more than 750 Fellowships to African Americans and Hispanics pursuing Ph.D.’s, and the Program enjoys an impressive near 80% retention rate. More than 300 Fellows have graduated with Ph.D.’s, in an average completion time of 5.5 years.
Up to 50 Fellowships are awarded annually to study at one of nine participating Florida universities. Each award provides annual tuition up to $5,000 (tuition above this amount is waived by the participating institution) for each of three academic years plus an annual stipend of $12,000. (An additional two years of support at this same level is provided by the participating institution.) The award also includes a comprehensive system of academic support. Each annual renewal is contingent upon satisfactory performance and normal progress toward the Ph.D. degree.
PURPOSE: The McKnight Doctoral Fellowship program is designed to address the under-representation of African American and Hispanic faculty at colleges and universities in the state of Florida by increasing the pool of citizens qualified with Ph.D. degrees to teach at the college and university levels. As a by-product, it is expected that employment opportunities in industry will also be expanded.
The Open Society Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellowship, powered by Echoing Green, is an innovative partnership between the Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green, dedicated to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys in the U.S. It is the first fellowship program in the world for social entrepreneurs who are starting up new and innovative organizations in the field of black male achievement.
The 2012 and 2013 BMA Fellows are currently hard at work building innovative solutions to the barriers facing black men and boys in the United States: generating new ideas and best practices in the areas of education, family, and work, such as initiatives related to fatherhood, mentoring, college preparatory programs, community-building, supportive wage work opportunities, communications, and philanthropic leadership.
The 2014 BMA Fellowship will be awarded to individuals or partners representing up to eight organizations who will receive:
A stipend of $70,000
A health insurance stipend
A yearly professional development stipend
Leadership development and networking gatherings
Access to technical support and pro bono partnerships to help grow their organization and a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager
A community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders, including Open Society Foundations and the Echoing Green network of nearly 600 Fellows at Large working all over the world.
*Info courtesy of the Florida Education Fund
and Open Society Black Male Achievement Fellowship websites*