‘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.

bye

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!

viola cool.gif

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

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 10.59.55 AM

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.

snap

 


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. 

165 Years Later, Frederick Douglass’ Speech Sets America On Fire

The Fourth of July has come and gone but the sting of what it means lingers as I continue to read blog (great one from a Black man’s perspective) after blog (another great perspective from a “conscious American”) validating – even exacerbating – the pain. Our collective awareness of the fragility of Black people in today’s society has never been so heightened, so up close, so real.

giphy-downsized

For me, this journey began on the morning of America’s 241st birthday as I spent four hours reading a 165-year-old speech given by self-educated former slave Frederick Douglass. As a Black History minor, I’m sure it had crossed my path before now, but middle-aged me absorbed Douglass’ words like a caged bird inhaling its first unfettered air during its inaugural flight. Indeed, it was liberating, frightening, and overwhelming.

”The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable—and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former, are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude.”

While reading his words I imagine Douglass making an appeal to me to join the fight to abolish the enslavement of men (I know by men he means human beings). I’m blown away by the 165-year-old charge that fits snugly into today’s narrative of mass incarceration, a dysfunctional education system, and generational poverty—the vicious trifecta born of the vestiges of slavery and repackaged into a type of modern-day enslavement.

Same Oppression, Different Century

We live in a place founded on the principles of freedom and patriotism and Douglass was calling out the hypocrisy during America’s infancy, as a spry 76-year-old nation. But as a more mature country, the dissonance between the bedrock from which this country sprang and how it treats its Black citizens has not grown up, it just looks different.

reformerFD

I visualize Douglass standing before hundreds of white men, direct beneficiaries of the Declaration of Independence, captivating them with his expansive vocabulary while taking them on a wild journey from the speech’s mild start to its harsh finish.

Douglass fattens up the audience with celebratory high-caloric affirmations only to set them up for a constitutional slaughter. He lures them, earns their trust with high praise for their forefathers’ vision and then he lowers the hook using against them the very declaration designed to foster freedom all the while promoting the most peculiar of institutions. Douglass relentlessly scolds the framers and their benefactors– letting no one off the hook.

Raw Courage

I’m convinced this is the most brilliant and courageous act against domestic tyranny in the face of domestic tyrants in the history of America.

Picture Douglass—a former slave breaking the law by teaching himself to read and write and escape slavery—speaking his truth and that of his sisters and brothers in bondage to the very group responsible for the injustices. Wild, isn’t it? Incidentally, this visual reminds me of parents who take time from their families—the daily grind of dinner and homework—to appeal to dispassionate, politically motivated elected officials. But I digress.

slaveryFD.png

In the following excerpt, Douglass blasts the institution of slavery and, I suspect, extinguishing any remaining celebration left in the Patriots on that day. Though he speaks of slavery, the unspoken root of the issue is the wicked inspiration behind America’s enslavement of Blacks — racism.

”It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a by word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes.”

We are all operating within, around, and in opposition, to institutions that have hate baked into their foundations. So, it is not surprising to me that Frederick Douglass, a man deceased for 122 years was trending on Twitter on July 4, 2017. Douglass’ 1852 speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July,” resonates with millions of Americans who find themselves in opposition to the nation’s current political leadership.

The potential loss of healthcare, infringements of rights of those who just want to love and live freely, and the attack on the very institution that informs the American public of these issues, has introduced to some and validated for others the house that hate built. Today’s Americans resonate with the plight of a former slave fighting for others’ freedom at the risk of sacrificing his own. Crazy, right? Not really. The current political reality heightens our awareness of the vulnerabilities of millions of Americans and forces community across lines of race, sexual preference, income, religion, and education. 

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”

 
Check out these what these bloggers have to say about what July 4th means to them:

What to a Slave Descendant is Your 4th of July?

What to the Black Man is 4th of July in 2017?

What to the Chicago Principal is Fourth of July?

What to the Conscious American is the 4th of July?

If You Are Silent About My Oppression, You Are My Oppressor! The Hypocrisy of the Status Quo!

Independence Day: More than a Barbeque

NAACP: Hell No We Won’t Go! (Remember this?)

There is no shortage of school choice proponents willing to let the NAACP off the hook for siding with union bosses against parents desperate for quality education choices for their children. We’re still mad as hell and rightfully so.

Continue reading NAACP: Hell No We Won’t Go! (Remember this?)