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.
This week has perhaps been the hardest teaching week for me so far (12/16/13 – 12/20/13). Grad school projects were due, and students’ behavior was just an OD management job. They’ve been extremely difficult to focus, and to keep calm. They’ve been screaming, cursing, sending subs, threatening, ignoring, complaining, joking, singing, beatboxing, rapping, harmonizing, old-school jamming, procrastinating, playing, ditching, sleeping, leaving just to return 15 minutes latering maybe…ishing, lovable, needy, supportive, childish, disrespectful, helpless, suprisingy ingenuitive, cunning, model, motivated, artistic, compelled, engaged, everythingish people to us lately.
I’ve almost lost my professionalism thrice over the past week, or maybe definitely once… who knows exactly, that’s not the point. At the end of the day, I’m a teacher, my students, the public, and myself expects me to teach these kids.
One of my many jobs is to see past these front(s) and in a way manipulate that student into learning. It’s a game of chess… trying to get these vessels to learn no matter what they’re wrapped in on their exteriors. I’m trying to frame my practice this way, and I will say that it has helped me really change the way I view my job, especially in how I prepare and approach this work.
Someone once told me that “Teaching is Activism.” A strong activist knows the importance of resilience. Even so, I’ve never felt as defeated as I did on Tuesday. The students were all coming in from their lunches and advisory classes from the day. I think all of the advisories had had pizza parties celebrating the holiday. I had already been a rough day week in general. (Just to be transparent I had actually tried pretty hard to mentally prepare myself to have a strong week going in to Christmas Break – this however is one of those times when my positive framing didn’t work.)
6th period was about to begin. They’re a class that has a lot of energy… but its more social energy vs. the back and forth energy of my 3rd period class. The late bell rang and students began wondering in one after the other rubbing their bellies and mumbling variations of “Damn, I got Niggeritus(is). I wasn’t ready…. For the devastating combo.
Sidebar: I almost feel like I have to be an assassin when it comes to the students’ casual usage of Nigga in class. The students say it a million times a day, and almost a million times a day I give them the screw face and remind that that I really hate when they use that word. Of all the words… THAT is the one I expect you to stop using. “I can’t stop saying saying it, it’s too hard.” or “Why? I am a Nigga?” or “It’s ok, Black people can say the word Nigga, followed by a quick google search of “Can black people say nigga?” which of course brought up results that they can.” The word is sooo engrained in the students language, I can tell they literally don’t think before they use it at least not in school buildings. I’m sure there are some settings like an interview where they would feel the need to track their language better than normal. Its just a terrible word to feel the need to police in a school setting. It’s the never-ending always happening battle in the classroom.
BACK TO THE STORY:
…I wasn’t ready…. For the devastating combo. I instantly retorted something about stop saying that word with my more than usual frustrations. This time was different, the students again replied in a “Oh my bad” fashion followed by the “I thought it was a word” coupled with genuinely clueless facial expressions. Unaffected they all began to drift back into the sea of off-task conversations going on in the room as my co-teacher and I tried to usher them into completing their journals. My expression turned from routine reminder mode to concerned and inquisitive.
By his time there were maybe 3 or 4 students (if I’m lucky) paying attention to my changing expressions. I half-way mustered out a “NO, it’s not a word!” in between my frustration and in disbelief. I stood there struggling for words. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever felt so powerless as a teacher. The bar had been reset in a way. My students have grown up in a time and in a culture where for them Niggeritus was as clearly a word as mother, or birth, or school.
”No, that is not a word, you won’t see that in the dictionary… Stop using that word, y’all really disappoint me when you use that word! You have no idea….(insert Peanuts voice)”
At some point I returned to teaching using the barely there energy I had left in me. The only thing that saved me were the slight tugs I would give my hair to pull me back into reality. I couldn’t quite deal with how overwhelmed I had become in that moment. It was a real moment of unwanted clarity. I saw what is always really difficult to see in this role – just how brainwashed my students had become.
Of course I was thinking about it on at least two levels. The challenge I had with teaching and really preparing my students to code-switch and track their language before they speak it. Furthermore, the level at which Black English and Common American English have mixed and diluted each other. (<– Overly complicated and vague description)
I don’t know if its right or wrong, but I was more hurt at the enculturation of the word Nigga/Nigger. And how in a very short time, my students have learned to completely devalue a word that carries such tragic history in this country. The painful part was just seeing how overtime language could be re-valued. Once language looses its meaning, how do you describe events and ideas that depend on those specific contexts?
Ferris State University has some great information about Black stereotypes and caricatures that I found a year ago. I read some of these a while ago and recommend them for anyone looking to learn more about historically demeaning Black Stereotypes and images. I’ve inserted just a few explanations and usages for the word Nigger below. It was hurtful when I read these… but pain can be the best motivator of them all.
Ferris State University: Nigger and Caricature
The word nigger carries with it much of the hatred and repulsion directed toward Africans and African Americans. Historically, nigger defined, limited, and mocked African Americans. It was a term of exclusion, a verbal justification for discrimination. Whether used as a noun, verb, or adjective, it reinforced the stereotype of the lazy, stupid, dirty, worthless parasite. No other American ethnophaulism carried so much purposeful venom, as the following representative list suggests:
Nigger, v. To wear out, spoil or destroy.
Niggerish, adj. Acting in an indolent and irresponsible manner.
Niggerlipping, v. Wetting the end of a cigarette while smoking it.
Niggerlover, n. Derogatory term aimed at whites lacking in the necessary loathing of blacks.
Nigger luck, n. Exceptionally good luck, emphasis on undeserved.
Nigger-flicker, n. A small knife or razor with one side heavily taped to preserve the user’s fingers.
Nigger heaven, n. a designated place, usually the balcony, where blacks were forced to sit, for example, in an integrated movie theater or church.
Nigger knocker, n. axe handle or weapon made from an axe handle.
Nigger rich, adj, Deeply in debt but ostentatious.
Nigger shooter, n. A slingshot.
Nigger steak, n. a slice of liver or a cheap piece of meat.
Nigger stick, n. police officer’s baton.
Nigger tip, n. leaving a small tip or no tip in a restaurant.
Nigger in the woodpile, n. a concealed motive or unknown factor affecting a situation in an adverse way.
Nigger work, n. Demeaning, menial tasks.(Green, 1984, p. 190)
Nigger has been used to describe a dark shade of color (nigger-brown, nigger-black), the status of whites who interacted with blacks (nigger-breaker, -dealer, -driver, -killer, -stealer, -worshipper, and -looking), and anything belonging to or associated with African Americans (nigger-baby, -boy, -girl, -mouth, -feet, -preacher, -job, -love, -culture, -college, -music, and so forth).4Nigger is the ultimate American insult; it is used to offend other ethnic groups, as when Jews are called white-niggers; Arabs, sandniggers; or Japanese, yellow-niggers.
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.
Even in my own head my most recent post(s) come off as a misrepresentation of what I’m really experiencing this year as a 2nd year teacher and graduate student. By no means have things been easy and just fallen into place properly. If anything I’ve felt as though I have to deal with a lot more chaos than I did at the beginning of last year. However, I’ve been managing it with more laughter and matter of factness, at least in my own head.
This year, I’m working with a lot more freshman students, which is great because its helping me build relationships with the new members of the student body. The freshman class is more independent than previous classes we’ve brought into the school. They seem to be able to work better on their own, and to date haven’t given much pushback when we give them homework or require them to step up to the plate with their work. This has been surprising, but also pretty frustrating when trying to figure out how to bring the same sense of responsibility to our sophomore and junior classes at the school. I’m not quite sure what we can do to bridge the gap for them, but, that will be part of my job next marking period as I work with some of our junior students in the new Post Graduate Prep Elective.
This year’s freshman have been a great social experiment for me. I’ve really been able to push myself and them beyond what I thought I was able to do last year, and with a lot more natural appeal. Had you asked me last year if I was myself in the classroom or some character I presented, I would have answered that I was definitely my genuine self. However, the freshman this year seem to have brought a more relaxed and authentic version of myself into the classrooms as a teacher and my graduate classes as a student. They’ve also helped me realize that no single experience in the classroom starts and ends in that classroom. We live in a world that is constantly pulling and growing on things that have happened previously in all of our lives.
Some of the challenging situations I’ve had to maneuver this year have oddly enough all come from the same classroom. In one class of approximately 20 students on the roster my co-teacher and I have –
A) a student who functionally can’t read (well)
B) a student who for lack of a better term has extreme mood swings within one period
C) a student that has the energy and attitude of a tazmanian devil
D) a student that just so happens to be the son of my barber – which has made subsequent management very difficult do to the inherent conflict of interest.
Dealing with these students in the same classroom has been… interesting. Interesting by the way is my new buzzword for, a fucking mess. I will say though that although these students have kept me on my toes I do feel a genuine love and responsibility to look out for their security, growth, and comfort inside and outside of my classrooms.
A few weeks ago, students B and C, who by themselves have the power to completely derail a productive classroom environment came into class and performed the Dragon Ball Z Fusion Dance. For those of you that don’t know it’s a dance performed by particular characters in the popular anime series that allows them to combine forces, strength, and minds to fight stronger enemies. So far this is probably the single most hilarious memory I’ve had as a teacher. I’ve included a quick video showing the fusion process below, and yes the students literally did this in the middle of class, in unison, together. I died a little inside from shear amazement that they even knew of the fusion dance, and second that they were essentially saying in code that they were combining to wreck havoc together.
Ironically, I actually think both students were able to focus and get a decent amount of work done this day. However, I was taken aback by their seemingly freudian slip. I think subconsciously their act was an admission that they both understood that they had the power to derail the class if they chose to. The whole class period I moved in a semi-state of shock, like what the hell have we gotten ourselves into.
Of course, fate decided that I would be in charge of both student’s IEP meetings. Both meetings brought surprises and challenges never experienced before. One student’s IEP is still yet to be drafted… yet another thing I have to complete this weekend… supposedly. One thing I love about my position as a teacher is being able to connect with my students on a simpler level than their educator. In both meetings with the students, I mentioned the fusion process that I saw in class, and how I was shocked that they even knew what that was. It served as a door opener to students who can be particularly difficult to connect with when not in the mood. Even weeks later I still can’t quite get over having two Super Saiyan students who understand their power to support and disrupt a classes progress singularly and even more-so together.
To tie this back to my initial statement, clearly these students both saw the fusion process years ago at home, and brought the idea into the classroom to really just have a good time and share laughs together. I know I haven’t watched Dragon Ball Z in probably over 5 years, and its been a lot longer since I heard of fusion. In the end, I let both students know that their fusion was hilarious, and I respect them for comedically bringing it into the class. I actually think the three of us are the only ones who caught it in the moment and haven’t forgotten it. However, I’ve already put my co-teacher on game, and let the students know that any further fusion activities will be met with equal force from my co-teacher and I.
We laughed… and to this day they have continued to be lovely difficult students to manage in the class.
It seems like its been forever since I’ve even thought I’ve had the time to write something for the site. This school year has been crazy, and yet somehow I’ve managed to be a lot more calm and get more sleep than I did last year. Off the top of my head I’ve managed 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night, which is 2 to 3 hours more than I got on average last year. Instead of stressing and staying up into the wee hours in the morning prepping lessons, thinking about IEP’s, and going over grad school work. I’ve been getting sleep first, and then fitting in time for all that other stuff second.
I don’t want it to seem like I’m not stressed, or “on” as much as I was before. In reality I’m on more than last year. I think I’ve just realized how to manage my time better during the school day and afterwards. Funny enough I remember NYC Teaching Fellows staff and coaches mentioning last year that we needed to prioritize sleep. Back then I never imagined that would be possible. But, this year, it’s become an implicit priority of mine. It doesn’t matter how much I’m behind, or have things to do… when I’m tired, I go to bed. Its such a wonderful feeling.
The school year is just short of being 1/3 of the way done – and I would say that I’ve definitely kept my cool under all of the pressures that have been coming my way. I’ve been taking situations as they happen, as opposed to allowing the randomness of the education system frustrate and confuse me into a panic. My mind is still working overtime, but I would say it’s actually been shutting down a bit too early for my taste. Over the past 2 months I’ve struggled with creating my vision for my teaching and work in education. Last year, as a new teacher I was able to focus on the teacher I wanted to become. Whereas this year I’ve just been acting, with far less thought put into my actions. I’m assuming its due to the fact that I’m not a rookie teacher anymore persay, so my mind is focusing on different and equally important matters.
This actually worries me a bit. Before I came to NYC I promised myself that I would continue to push each step of the way to ensure that I grew into the best possible educator that I could. But here at the beginning of my second year I don’t feel as challenged as I did last year. Things just seem too easy. Or better yet I just seem too instinctual right now. I already know I’m not really conveying the amount of work and thought that goes into each day as a teacher, and we can’t forget a grad student – which is part of why it’s been a awhile since I’ve posted. I mean I feel like I’m working more and trying to produce higher quality everything, both as a teacher and a student. But just like Vegeta up top, the challenges I’m faced with have come and gone and haven’t phased me as much as I feel they should. Maybe its backwards logic, but, it worries me. People may question why that’s an issue… Detectable stress and challenges are what I feel I need to measure my growth by.
As a result, I’ve decided to upload a recent assignment to help shine some light on why the relative ease at which I’m working has me uneasy with my place right now.
Of course, I wouldn’t be taking my own advice if I focused on the deficit. I’m excited to be back, I’m inspired by the new year, and all of the new experiences I’m about to encounter. My focus this year now that I feel more comfortable engaging students is to focus on solutions to the problems I encounter in the classroom. What I’ve found is that they’re available if I want to make the impact in the way(s) that I know are necessary and possible. But, I must research them! There’s business in poverty, ignorance, and arrogance. If we don’t search and strive toward creating our own solutions then someone will always be ready to use us to further the depression that is going on.
My personal suggestions would be for people to –
Seek out mentors (in AND outside the classroom/home and community/ and programs)
Always express compassion in our actions with our youth
Research and reading books from multiple perspectives, or at least some that will purposely challenge your thinking
Positive thinking/living/and being. I’m certain that what we do undoubtedly rubs off on those that watch us
In realizing that there is a large problem with the current mechanism(s) that maintain American society. I’ve also realized that I as an individual have immense power to impact that mechanism and alter it and make it work to develop my community. As I stated above, the changes I make will undoubtedly rub off on the people I know. The changes they make will undoubtedly rub off on the people they know.
Money is nice and we all need it to cover certain expenses. However, there comes a time when the want for materialism outpaces the needs of our communities. That drive to secure our own needs at the rick of others pushes people away from their service, mentorship, and fellowship that helps us build up our communities. Make sure there is balance. When you let money (selfishness) rule it will always derail your plans. Nonprofits fall for this all the time. Young professionals entering Corporate America fall for this all the time. Politicians fall for this all the time. Don’t let the money blind you to the one on one/in human contact that is the service we all relied on.
I recently fell into a conversation with a young Black professional and HBCU graduate who was the……… Account Executive for Commercial Relations for BET. Basically he worked in advertising. When he found out I was a teacher the conversation exploded from silence to a full blown debate about how our kids don’t want to do anything with themselves and they want to be lazy, etc… Of course I always respond, to the tune of how are Black students aren’t really taught to preservere through their challenges especially academic, and to ask them to do it on their own is unimaginable. People always put the onus of student’s failure on the student and perhaps his parents. It’s like people miraculously forget that these are minors. I wouldnt’ be fair to say that they don’t know what they want, but at 16 I only knew what my parents, peers, and community knew about the world. Luckily those three groups were comprised of people that only supported my development. I hadn’t experienced enough of the world to truly know what I wanted for myself. why do we continue to argue that children who do not have the most positive support system must navigate this world on their own.
The debate carried on for a solid 15/20 minutes with the BET guy talking about how people don’t take advantage of their chances, and I continued to talk about how all of us at the table as college graduates did in fact take advantage of the chances we were given. But again we are viewing this from the top end of the spectrum. Why is it always acceptable to view this debate from the “successful” person’s point of view? Why aren’t we ever called to give and do more for our communities in an effort to help those that weren’t able to make it through to “success”. I began suggesting that he, and his channel needed to take responsibility and show more positive examples to our young black people to follow. He said that didn’t matter, and that he did mentor young boys. I told him it did matter, just today I had to completely switch my Speech lesson in the middle of class because my students weren’t engaged. I did that by cueing in on their favorite musicians. Drake and Meek Millz. I had told them that I had heard of Drake, but hadn’t heard any of Meek Millz songs. If they were going to write a persuasive speech using one of the two what were some of the points they would use. Some students talked about how Drake was versatile, some talked about Meek using grittier lyrics, some talked about Drake being their boyfriend, some talked about they would persuade me to listen to their own music instead.
He then went on to say that BET wasn’t even owned by Black people anymore, so it wasn’t their responsibility to support their community, they were supposed to make money. I countered that regardless of who owned the station, they positioned themselves as a station that developed content geared for black people, in some ways they had a responsibility to provide a diversity in their programming. And he as a professional had a responsibility to work to develop his community and not just himself. He began to talk about how busy he was and that what he was doing was enough, he had to make sure he was set before he could give anymore. This was the sentiments of everyone at the table. They all, college graduates, and all from prestigious HBCU’s by the way (Hampton and Morehouse) felt that their stability superseeded the stability of the community they were coming from. At this point in my I was definitely feeling my happy hour buzz, and realized it was time to step back and just continue to challenge my table participants to find ways to give back and support those younger than them. Regardless of how stable they felt, they could always find someone who needed their wisdom, knowledge, and guidance.
I don’t remember exactly what said, but at this point he continued to shift the blame back onto students not wanting to be successful. To which I continually asked him why he thought it was OK to require a 14 year old to 1) create an awareness of his place on the globe, and 2) maneuver all things in his life to make sure that he grow up to reach his success, when 3) Black youth, especially boys, in reality control almost no parts of their lives outside of what their parents and mentors see them to. There have been numerous stories in the news as of late of young Black boys whose lives were taken from them because of what someone else thought about them.
Anywhom this post isn’t about that. Its about personal responsibility to make a difference in our community. Too often we push the blame on to someone else, or don’t believe we ourselves can make a change.
Thinking for ourselves/Group think (stereotypes, misinformation, doubts, )
Talents into service. For me, my talents are best used teaching, writing, learning to better help myself, my family, and my students.
A few closing notes I’ll leave you with:
We all have talents, and can turn those talents into services for other people. For me, my talents are being used to teach, write, and continue to learn ways to help myself, my family, and my students.
Group think is a horrible disease that affects 95% of the population. Are you a knowing victim, even worse are you a silent carrier who doesn’t even know they’re a host? Group think has been used to push stereotypes, misinformation, self doubts… Reflect to see where you stand on this.
Do something different for yourself!
Purposely lift someone up everyday.
Read a book, it opens your consciousness.
Save the hate and push for your purpose!
Work to actively build a community wherever you are (work, school, home, groups, etc…)
The media works to make money, not show you positive images of black people. I recently attended a community event where Dr. Imani Perry said that watching television makes Black people feel bad. Think about all of the negative that can be consumed through media images. Whether we believe what we see or not, the constant consumption of negative media images affects our subconscious. White males on average are the only ones who feel better about their personal image after watching tv. Additional Source – Black pathology is big business
Educators, stop thinking that the world is in irreversible downward sprial. WIth that mentality of course its not going to change. It takes blind faith in our devotion to our craft to help make those incremental differences that lead to larger scale change.
Get off your ass, and make a difference NOW in your family and community. It’s as simple as giving a banana to the hype that you make fun of everyday.
Deflecting the blame onto others, ensures that the “problem” will continue to happen. Find a solution, keep expanding that solutoin, and share it with others.
Stop helping people for a paycheck, OR relying on the people that do help people for a paycheck. You can be the one to bring change to the world. Don’t be the haystack, be the needle that everybody is looking for.
Tell Flex to drop a bomb on this shit/So many bombs, ring the alarm like Vietnam in this shit
So many bombs, make Farrakhan think Saddam in this bitch/One at a time, I line ’em up and bomb on they mom while she watchin’ the kids
I’m in a destruction mode if the gold exists/
I’m important like the pope/I’m a muslim on pork/I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the king of New York King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both/The juggernaut’s all in your jugular, you take me for jokes
Live in the basement, church pews and funeral faces/Cartier bracelets/for my women friends I’m in Vegas
Who the fuck y’all thought it’s supposed to be?/If Phil Jackson came back, still no coachin’ me
I’m uncoachable, I’m unsociable/Fuck y’all clubs, fuck y’all pictures, your Instagram can gobble these nuts
Gobble dick up ’til you hiccup, my big homie Kurupt/This the same flow that put the rap game on a crutch
I’ve seen niggas transform like villain Decepticons/Mollies’ll prolly turn these niggas to fuckin’ Lindsay Lohan
A bunch of rich-ass white girls lookin’ for parties/Playin with Barbies/wreck the Porsche before you give ’em the car key
Judgement to the monarchy/blessings to Paul McCartney/You called me a black Beatle, I’m either that or a Marley
I don’t smoke crack motherfucker I sell it/I’m dressed in all black, this is not for the fan of Elvis
I’m aiming straight for your pelvis, you can’t stomach me/You plan on stumpin’ me?/Bitch, I’ve been jumped before you put a gun on me
Bitch, I put one on yours, I’m Sean Connery/James Bonding with none of you niggas, climbing 100 mil in front of me
And I’m gonna get it even if you’re in the way/And if you’re in it, better run for Pete’s sake
I heard the barbershops spittin’ great debates all the time/Bout who‘s the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y’all/New niggas just new niggas, don’t get involved
And I ain’t rockin no more designer shit/White T’s and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhyming wit’/But this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale/Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller/I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas/They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I’m trying to raise the bar high/Who tryin’ to jump and get it? You better off tryin’ to skydive
Out the exit window of five G5’s with five grand/With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryin’ to land
With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg/Bumpin Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said/That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a thread