‘It’s Been A Long Time, I Shouldn’t Have Left You’ — But Let Me Explain

Ok, Ok. The amazing words in the title of this post belong to the legendary MC Rakim and DJ Eric B. ( I love you!), but biting their rhyme is a desperate attempt (but cool as hell, right?) to ask you for a big stinkin’ break. This may be a lame excuse to leave you hanging, but the first 11 days of 2018 have kept me super busy — more on this later.

However, I want to wish you a belated Happy New Year and ask you to indulge me on this short trip down memory lane (h/t Minnie Ripperton) and continue with me across threshold between what was and what’s to come in 2018. Let’s go!

Out With the Old…

Remember way back in December 2017 when we posted our final mic-drop post for the year Four Things That Must Stay in 2017 and the Boss Behavior Required for 2018? Well, not only did I love writing that post, but, surprisingly, it resonated with many people. I am always shocked when friends and strangers receive a message that emanates from my soul. Admittedly, it was a little preachy — something I violently reject from others, especially the chronically dishonest. But these times require something different from us, we cannot waste time promoting bullshit ideologies that hurt our most vulnerable or sit quietly while heartlessly watching injustices take place right before us — social justice is not a sport and it’s damn sure not a spectator sport.

At the risk of starting 2018 in the same holier-than-thou spirit that probably should have remained in 2017, I think it’s important to remember the dead, so I’m reposting the four things that, hopefully, expired in 2017. REST IN… THE MESS THAT BROUGHT YA.

Faux-Inclusion of Black Women – Inviting us to the table but somehow forgetting we need chairs, too.

False Progressivism – The New Republicans. Just be real about who you are and what you really care about.

Pro-Public Education Bit – Look, when I hear you are pro-public education, I hear “I’m really comfy with 86 percent of poor kids not reading.” And how are your kids doing in those schools? <<CRICKETS>>

Complicity – Repeating sentence above: Social justice is not a spectator sport. Your silence in the face of injustice and/or support of an aggressor is complicity — 2018 is no place for your mess.

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Boss Behavior Required in 2018

This part of that blog was written for me and if it helped even one other person I considered that a huge blessing. I’m a firm believer that you just can’t enter a new year without hope and a missive to be and do better. So, even though I’m quoting myself which seems awfully narcissistic, here’s my Do Better list:

 I choose to take the lessons from 2017 and rock them into and throughout 2018. What does that look like?

  • It’s honoring my worth even if you don’t and especially if you won’t.
  • It’s being my sister’s keeper
  • It’s relentlessly supporting parent choice
  • And fearlessly exercising my power through the use of my voice.

In With the NEW… #BossBehaviorRequired

Speaking of “exercising my power through the use of my voice” and quoting myself AGAIN, I’m excited to let you in on why 2018 has been so busy. A group of seven women, Black women, Black Women who fight (not just advocate) for equity in education for Black and Brown children united to form a collective — “a melanin-infused collective” affectionately titled #OneVoice. As part of this effort, I have spent all of 2018 working with my sisters to bring this mission to life.

We are no stranger to blogging, as each of us, in varying degrees, is a member of the Education Post network, a national organization that generously seeks and offers its large platform to education advocates of color. From that heart-project emerged One Voice Blog Magazine, a labor of love for each us, requiring of us additional intellectual labor and precious little extra time to breathe life into this platform — which is, in fact, our budget – intellectual and sweat equity.

But on Monday, January 8, 2018, One Voice Blog Magazine was born and we couldn’t be more proud of the support we’ve garnered already – and it’s just day 4! #OneVoice is blessed with a strong cast of badass women who make waves in their respective communities. I kept waiting for them to figure out that I’m not a wave-maker, but until then I’m in with the cool crowd!

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So please check us out. We hail from NY, CT, MI, PA, FL, and TN and are educators, businesswomen, and community leaders. We are mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, and damn good friends. We love our communities and our babies. We believe in the transformative power of education and the effect our voices, individually and collectively, can have on ensuring that power serves all kids. #OneVoice #FortheChildren #BossBehaviorRequired

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So, I’m back stronger, louder, and more powerful (see below).

One Voice Founding Members: Dia Jones, Dr. Kelli SeatonGwen SamuelVivett DukesBernita BradleyKerry-Ann Royes, and Vesia Wilson-Hawkins.

Oh, and if you catch us adjusting our crowns, just chill — it only takes a moment.

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Since my last post a young, beautiful, promising life has been forever silenced from the ravages of criminal injustice borne out of institutional racism. Rest in peace and power, Erica Garner. 

Four Things That Must Stay in 2017 and the Boss Behavior Required for 2018

Ayyyyyyeeeee!

As 2017’s time on this earth fades to black, 2018 is waiting to take its place in the sun. As I mined through the events of 2017 — from national disgraces to local blemishes, there are many themes at a macro level that I believe will forever be attached to the year 2017: sexual assault, overt racism, and youth suicides. When assessing local patterns, 2017 for “progressive” Nashville will be the year for moves that work against its poor and Black populations.

Many events grabbed my attention throughout the year, but the themes that bore down and pierced my core derive from behaviors that I’d like to leave in 2017. For instance, America’s fleeting appreciation of Black women, the stance against charter schools and the families who choose them by the “oldest and boldest” civil rights organization in America, and the complicity of those witnessing egregious acts without saying a word.

Out With The Old…

Oddly enough, I feel as if I have a spiritual tie to 2018 and the message is clear: there is no room for nonsense as there is much work to be done.

So as we leave 2017 in the dust, here are 4 things that should stay with it:

Faux-Inclusion of Black Women

Screenshot 2017-06-13 at 12.39.08 PMYou think we don’t know. A superficial hire here (see Omarosa), a board appointment there. A couple tweets celebrating our votes that secure your place at the table. A cursory invitation to the table only to discover there is no chair (see #BlackWomenAtWork). And that one Black girlfriend… Yep, we know and it’s old. Like 2017.

In 2018 and beyond, please honor our worth. This is of far greater value than our vote or what we can lend to your credibility.

 

Fake Progressivism

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I read once about Nashville being a progressive city. If progressive means clearing out poor, Black residents to make room for richer, whiter ones; or prioritizing soccer above indigent care; or acting as a city on the rise while more than 85% of its public school children in poverty fail to read at grade level then Nashville is progressive.

Nashville is 6th in the nation in both gentrification and homelessness. Most Black and brown renters’ pay upwards of 50% of their salary in rent. The city needs more than 30,000 affordable housing units. Meanwhile, robust efforts are employed to secure support for $5 billion transit plan and $26 million soccer stadium. I suspect these are not the values of a truly progressive people. The faux concern for our fellow sister must go with 2017.

In 2018, let’s be honest about who we are or restore our moral obligation to our sistren.

Pro-Public Education Bit

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It’s no secret that the righteous indignation that cloaks this proclamation is a direct shot at education reformers. From political candidates to the PTA, pro-public ed supporters want you to know they are not here for your reform shenanigans. It doesn’t seem to bother them that they are pledging allegiance to a system ill-designed to fully educate its diverse population. Further, there is a refusal to accept that Black families are making choices and without anyone’s permission.

Please get a new label in 2018 – one that supports children and values families.

Complicity

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said silence is complicity and if we’ve learned anything from this year it’s that silence is no longer an option (see #MeToo, #Resist). While 2017 will be forever tethered to the rebirth of brazen racism (Charlottesville and the POTUS who supported it), it will also be known as the year powerful bullies took a tumble thanks to the power of one brave voice that led to a collection of courageous voices.

In 2018, our voice is our weapon against bullies, racists – blatant and unsuspecting, misogynists, and the people who protect, hire, and groom them.

 

In With the New… 

As I look to the new year with optimism and a healthy supply of badassery, I must recognize 2017 as a formidable sparring partner. The gut punches that come from racism, sexism, and educational malpractice hurt like hell and stay with you, coloring relationships and decisions for the rest of your life. But thank God we have a choice!

I choose to take the lessons from 2017 and rock them into and throughout 2018. What does that look like? 

  • It’s honoring my worth even if you don’t and especially if you won’t.
  • It’s being my sister’s keeper
  • It’s relentlessly supporting parent choice
  • And fearlessly exercising my power through the use of my voice. 

Excuse me while I adjust my crown.

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Wishing the best for you and yours! Have an amazing 2018.


DSNhIYNX0AAx-fBThis post is dedicated to the social justice work of Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner who was killed by NYPD. Erica joined the Black Lives Matter movement to fight for justice for her father and remained on the battlefield until she suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve. Erica is currently fighting for her own life and needs our prayers and positive energy.