“You’re Fired, Bitch! Go out and find something else to do!”

“YOU’RE FIRED, BITCH!”

This is not a game show or a reality show-this is life! This is the presidency, Mister President!

Those recently spoken words are so appropriate to what I’m feeling about our current President of these United States. How dare he disrespect the flag and the people for whom the flag signifies freedom, liberty and justice! Hasn’t anyone ever whispered into his ear that among the freedoms that our national flag represents is the freedom of expression, beliefs and the freedom to be committed to our beliefs, as individuals and as a collective-a nation?

As if a football player, professional athletes aren’t included in the context of freedoms! Does he believe that athletes are truly ‘dumb jocks’? Since college seems to reign as the prerequisite requirement before consideration of becoming a professional sports player, one should venture to guess that each player possesses some moderate level of intelligence. Along with intelligence, shouldn’t we safely assume that everyone has individual thoughts and beliefs, possibly different from the masses? As much as we are unique as humans, we are also similar, but we don’t have to conform, especially to nonsense. Not even when the nonsense is uttered froPresident

Are all athletes, simply because they are paid to play a sport that millions of Americans and people outside of America find pleasurable, entertaining, or exciting, paid to also keep their thoughts to themselves and their mouths shut? If there were a deeply felt cause that I support, because I exist within a ‘team’ environment, and we get paid to be on that team, is there a clause built into my contract which holds me to abstain from community activism? Why should we ask any player to go against his or her values to satisfy anyone else, let alone a President who clearly aligns with ‘Nationalism’, the ‘Alt-Right’,  and whatever moniker for racially-charged ideology is fashionable at the moment?

It is admirable that there are ‘dumb jocks’ who have a conscience, hold values, and support unjust, discriminatory practices, policies and the rhetoric ‘double-talk’ that we hear today. Black, white or mixed-descent, right is right and wrong is wrong! But, has there ever been anyone chided for calling a ‘spade a spade’…particularly when it was fashionable to do so?[*a distasteful double entendre]

I think that this ignorant phrase used by our President, expletives included, should be enough evidence of his loyalties and he should, himself, be fired by the American people, not just an owner of a sports team. The resounding response to his words, however, shows that he is not unanimously supported. There has been increased numbers of professional sports players, coaches included, who have risen or rather kneeled in protest/opposition to injustice, evidenced by spoken words or actions. Un-American is un-American, in today’s America!

Our newest president seems to be more comfortable responding to popular media and news more social than political, than he is with exercising diplomacy and acting as a vehicle for bringing us all together united as Americans. His job is to act as a strong voice elected by the people to act in our best interest,…Black, White, Protestant, Catholic, LGBTQ or uncategorized. His job is not to polarize, antagonize, demonize or even sympathize. Nobody wants his sympathy, for his job is but to empathize, apologize and lead us into a more inclusively peace-filled and global future.

Obviously, Mr. Trump did not know what he was embarking upon as leader of the free world. So, I say, “You’re fired, Bitch! Go and find something else to do! Good ridding to bad rubbish! We deserve a better, more inclusive, tolerant and respectful leader …for the diversity that IS the U.S.!

 

What is it about swimming and Black people?

There is an historical myth/stereotype about swimming which says that ‘black people don’t swim’. Partially true that myth is, but do we know why? Most of us do not or have never endeavored to give it much consideration. So, it just lingered in the hearts and minds of many. This is my somewhat abbreviated explanation:

The truthful aspect of the stereotypic presumption stems from the notorious passages by which large groups of Africans were first shackled for future ‘slave’ labor and imported into North America and the nearby Caribbean islands. First, an internalized fear of water developed out of the trauma of capture and the horrific voyage across the seas. Upon these ships were very afraid humans, who were being taken somewhere strange, aboard a strange vessel, and traveling along a waterway far from home. Imagine that association! Along the voyage, many experienced or witnessed others being tortured, beaten, killed and thrown overboard, prey to the creatures of the deep and the elements. Many times, they weren’t dead before being thrown into the water. Imagine that imagery and the future negative association with water! So, swimming?? No way.

They then landed at places unknown, and in places where they were not only  viewed as sub-human, but treated as though un–human. As beautiful and as peaceful water is widely perceived, there was an already present fear, which was surely in contradiction with their desires to depart this land and return to their homelands where they were once free people. Water was the highway to freedom, yet they didn’t know how to get there, nor did they possess the wherewithal to get there.

Access to water, lakes, rivers, etc…, forbidden, except under watchful eye of whites, to whom they were ‘traded’ like livestock. There were no ‘inalienable’ rights, not even the right to live or breathe. All privileges were inaccessible, except for a few chosen persons. That is not to say that some of the enslaved blacks did not secretly learn to read, write, count, or swim, because some did. They risked their safety, life and limb to do any of these things. Access denied. As we progress into a post-slavery era, many people fought to continue to withhold certain privileges and limit access to that which would and should have been considered an American and human right.

Access and opportunity became a central theme of restriction as it pertained to black people, in the U.S. , both the north and south. Privilege described white people’s unrestricted rights in this country, and it was by design. Even into the 20th and 21st Centuries, access to a neighborhood swimming pool for people of color was few and far between- still largely inaccessible. At one time, pools were either restricted to whites only or they were segregated, as were drinking facilities, etc…. Whites had pools in their backyards, and people of color were lucky to have one in their entire community.
As black people migrated into the north and other places, many of which were inhabited by whites, whites moved out. They moved, took their wealth, privilege, and amenities with them. Stores closed, as did movie theaters, and pools.

Communities of color began to take on a generalized look of desolation, and disrepair, limited job opportunities and little chance for upward mobility in this nation. Strategically, there was a social and political denial of access and privilege to African-Americans and among other things, were there any existing fears of swimming, they were exacerbated by limited access.

Today, things are better, and now we see an entirely different mindset and new policies characterize a more humanistic landscape of the socio-political climate in this country. Access to what some may call the ‘creature comforts’ afforded to Americans, has improved for many blacks whose ancestors were strategically denied such access. Descendants of the original enslaved peoples now see a turnaround. Government officials, city planners, and businesses are  working to ensure equity in this society, and in NYC, which includes ensuring access to public pools, as well.

This young nation of ours is growing up, little by little. Some decision-makers recognize the necessity of targeting those communities which continue to resemble the objectives of a former discriminatory mindset.  We have been called to replace, rejuvenate and repair the fragmented services, opportunities and access once mostly denied or removed from the reach of people of color. It, change, must start somewhere and a neighborhood pool is one step along the way to a more equitable and purely democratic society. Time to teach people of color to swim! What do you think?

These were the depths of my thoughts after reading a recent article published in the New York Times. In their Race/Related series, this was definitely a good read. To read more, follow the link below:
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My Vision for Public Education

 

With so much divisiveness in this country, and the lack of respect for our cultural pluralism:

I envision a day when public education becomes the true equalizer that it is supposed to be for all who enroll their children into a system designed to prepare them for life, college and career success. Educators will no longer view ‘different’ as deficient, but just as determined as all others to live the American Dream and realize their own dreams as global citizens.

I envision a day when educators will teach, not to the test, but to the students and with relevance to instill cultural pride, self-love and respect for diversity. Children will learn with purpose and determination and will each be presented with sufficient ‘mirrors’ and ‘windows’ that will encourage each to pursue their own excellence. Schools don’t employ short-sighted persons who lack confidence necessary to show respect for anyone who doesn’t look, live or believe as they do. Schools are the environments where safe, supportive exploration of ideas and concepts aren’t dictated, but presented for thorough examination, comparison and contrast for deeper meaning, and only empirical data is deemed right or wrong. Students are encouraged to exercise their natural curiosity and ask intelligent questions and act as independent thinkers.

I envision a day when going to school is a daily excitation FOR ALL CHILDREN. Learning is interesting, relevant, challenging, thought-provoking. Educators acknowledge that everyone has a gift-an intelligence and make it their mission to uncover, discover and develop them in class. Educators authentically engage parents within the community and everyone sees the bigger picture…. It is all about the ‘village’. Educators do not fear making home visits and they meet parents where they are, as equally valuable educators with shared interests.

Parents are empowered as advocates, leaders, and decision-making partners with schools, and schools are linguistic & culturally-responsive community hubs. Food insecurity is mitigated, medical needs are addressed, behavioral health services are accessible, and comprehensive family supports are provided in a village collaborative. In fact, some schools have designated space for laundry, and babysitting services are regularly provided to parents with young children. Parents have a space to learn with flexible hours while acquiring work readiness skills, resume writing, interview skills, and parenting enhancement groups in school. Multi-generational strategies exist and parents are involved in all matters pertaining to learning.

I envison a day when teachers no longer over-discipline students because they don’t ‘get’ them, because educators possess empathy, insight and cultural proficiency. Before assuming, they will ask questions to engage students authentically and restoratively. Social justice takes place in the classroom, and not the police precinct.

key to success

I envision a day when, whether African-American, LGBTQ, Puerto-Rican or Sudanese, instruction is responsive to the cultural background, complementary to the unique identities of students and aligned with the standards. The core curriculum, responsive to student demographics, is individualized according to student interests, strengths and in preparation for meeting the demands of a tech-rich, information-driven global workforce. Students are prepped for the future, realizing their potential as change makers, culture creators, and compassionately global citizens.

I envision a day when Black History Month is not just celebrated during February, but throughout the school year, as educators dutifully endeavor to teach beyond the texts…in every class, every subject, because there are countless resources that align with instructional content and resonate with students. Teachers expose students to their own cultures as well as the cultures of others. That is only just and fair. Students respond to it.  After all, it is what students need to feel they belong in that environment.

wonder child - Copy

I envision a day when teachers understand that every child needs a hero. Whether parents, neighbors or someone from the past, there is a hero for everyone in every subject. Heroes are positive people who inspire others, motivate, mentor, encourage, and enlighten, and they don’t have to be alive; just relevant and relatable.

I envision a day when teachers are not afraid to expose children to cultures and they yearn to learn as much as the children. Teachers are unafraid to learn along side the students, invite opinions, perspectives and seek understanding but respect all, whether agree or disagree.Teachers have become literate in Emoji, students’ native language

I see a day when we have abandoned the biased textbooks that are given to students, developing minds, and teach without them, with relevance and inclusively to affirm and engage every child. On that day, teachers will have experienced their ‘aha’ moments and have had their breakthroughs to eradicate the gaps, disparities and disproportionalities. These former barriers to achievement were remnants of implicit bias and inequity. Educators are aware that the privileges they have been afforded are not afforded to all. They understand that their role is to give students the tools and skills to afford equally accessible opportunity for success.

I envision a day when teachers understand that when people feel they have little to no agency or control in their lives, that the illusions of control they do possess is exercised in choice of names, slang-language, dance, musical expression, and that each provides clues to their worldviews. What is noise to you is perceived as melodious self expression to others. Educators have a keen awareness that everyone has different experiences and one person is not indicativeof an entire group, race or culture..

On that day, teachers realize that expecting student achievement, good conduct and engagement is fruitless on the larger scale, if nothing is relevant to them. Teachers understand that ELA was never relevant with only Chaucer and Hemingway, but perhaps Alice Walker, Dumas,[Three Musketeers], Richard Wright[ for high school ], or if Gershwin and Porter are not sprinkled with Parker, Joplin, Marsalis[either brother]. Science with Edison, and not including Ponce DeLeon. Mlk accompanied by Andrew Young, Percy Sutton, Nikki Giovanni, Hughes, Jones, Tupac, and teachers brought these people to life in the classroom. No one is invisible in history or life and anything that tells that version is not in children’s best interest and not quality education but quasi-education.

Huey Long is explored with as much depth and meaning as Huey Newton. Gordon Parks is explored alongside Hitchcock. Vuitton is introduced with Bentley Farnsworth, Dorothy Dandridge with Marlene Deitrich and Lena Horne. Ella Fitzgerald and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway and Sally Hemmings. Paul Robeson and Paul Simon. Maya Angelou and Margaret Sanger. Flying Tigers and Tuskegee Airmen.

educator-belief

I envision a day when children, adolescents, make mistakes-poor decisions/choices, and are not taken out of that learning environment ONLY TO BE ARRESTED. Children will not be placed in handcuffs and shown the pipeline to prison. Instead, the pursuit of potential and practices which are restorative. Acquiring the capacity and mindfulness that when maladaptive behaviors emerge, educators will reframe, redirect and respond less punitively. This is an environment in which appropriate and adaptive behaviors are also learned.

I envision a day when educators are mindful of the differences between intent and impact of behaviors instead of taking offense by these expressions, understand that their students’ range of emotional literacy skills is still developing and incomplete and can be unreliably appropriate.

The education that I envision is one in which all children enter the classroom as gems and each is valuable. Teachers focus on strengths, and build upon them. Pedagogues take a captive audience and captivate them with challenging, and relevant knowledge with which students carry into the world as life long learners.

I envision a day when teachers’ salaries match the magnitude of their roles in shaping our future, and there is no more cognitive dissonance regarding diversity in the educator community. No longer will slang phrases, clothing styles, music genres, and physical characteristics of blacks be appropriated by whites and at the same time an underlying air of superiority is also held. For these conflicts, at the subconscious level, emerge in attitude and behavior, and blacks have so eloquently described it as being ‘two-faced’-you know, smiling in my face and hating me when not in my presence. It shines brighter than the words or deeds. This day, we have fully learned to respect and appreciate one another.

On this day, the love of teaching and the love of learning collide, students do less sitting and more doing. Educators greet each student with delight, and not disappointment that a student is in his or her class. Teachers invite the challenges and also collaborate with the school community to support learning and achievement of all students.

tree huggers

On this day, learning at school is deeply digital, actively experiential, intensely engaging, family-friendly, futuristic, future-focused and future-ready. Parents are empowered and equally engaged in the learning process. Their children, our children are the future-your future, my future, our future, and educators understand that. Moving forward, no matter where we start, the focus is on where we are going, and where we take them, because soon they will be in the driver’s seat moving forward into the future.

On this day, that day will never end, for it will be the change that we wish to see. It will look like the future and it will be a daily reality in future-focused 21st Century education!

task teacher

When We Imagine “Life Without Black People”

LIFE WITHOUT BLACK PEOPLE

 

A very humorous and revealing story is told about a group of white people who were fed up with African-Americans, so they joined together and wished themselves away. They passed through a deep dark tunnel and emerged in sort of a twilight zone where there is an America without black people.

At first these white people breathed a sigh of relief. At last, they said, “No more crime, drugs, violence and welfare. All of the blacks have gone!”

Then suddenly, reality set in. The “NEW AMERICA” is not America at all — only a barren land.

1. There are very few crops that have flourished because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.

2. There are no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Miles, a black man, invented the elevator, and without it, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.

3. There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a black man, invented the automatic gearshift, Joseph Gambol, also black, invented the Super Charge System for Internal Combustion Engines, and Garrett A. Morgan, a black man, invented the traffic signals.

4. Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another black man, Elbert R. Robinson.

5. Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they were cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper.

6. There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purvis invented the fountain pen, and Lee Burridge invented the Type Writing Machine and W. A. Love invented the Advanced Printing Press. They were all, you guessed it, Black.

7. Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the Postmarking and Canceling Machine, William Purvis invented the Hand Stamp and Philip Downing invented the Letter Drop.

8. The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the Lawn Mower.

9. When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the Air Conditioner and Alice Parker the Heating Furnace. Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis Latimer, enlightened Edison and Bell and invented the Electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern and Granville T. Woods invented the Automatic Cut off Switch. Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the Mop and Lloyd P. Ray, the Dust Pan.

10. Their children met them at the door-barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt. But what could one expect? Jan E. Matzelinger invented the Shoe Lasting Machine, Walter H. Sammons invented the improved Straightening  Comb, Sarah Boone invented the Ironing Board and George T. Sampson invented the Clothes Dryer.

11. Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another Black man, John Standard invented the refrigerator.

Now, isn’t that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of blacks and African-Americans?

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “By the time we leave for work, Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks.” Black history includes more than just slavery, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. Dubois, etc…….

Here are a few more relatively unknown, yet everyday HEROIC contributions that will confound anyone’s vision of life without Black people:

Some of the world’s most popular inventions were created by African-Americans, dating back to 1820, when Thomas Jennings, believed to be the first African-American inventor to receive a patent, created a more efficient dry cleaning process. Many years later, Judy W. Reed became the first African-American female inventor with her hand-operated dough kneader and roller. Reed, who was illiterate, signed the patent with an ‘X’, as did many others, both during and post-slavery. That ‘X’ gave rise to many falsely claimed ‘ownership’ of early inventions, that to date, we either credit to whites or assume belong to any others except African-Americans. The powers of mis-education!! Yet, we prefer to not think about these facts omitted from history.

Sidebar: If blacks were originally slaves in this country, then it is safe to assume that they were the laborers. Thusly, isn’t is common sense to conceive that without possession of rights as citizens, they could never claim rightful ownership of anything innovative?

Policies, practices and preferred perspectives disallowed such facts to become common knowledge. Therefore, public education could not allow these discoveries to be taught to school children-black or white.

Lesson: Teach outside and beyond the textbooks, as they still promote a Eurocentric version of history.

No more Black History Month? Every month should be embedded with black history in educational settings, if we taught and sought to tell the complete and logical truth!

Here are other little known and sadly, untaught inventions by African-Americans:

Potato Chips
George Crum (1822-1914)

Chef George Crum spent the summer of 1853 working at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where thickly cut, French fried potatoes were a popular menu item. When a customer complained that their fries were too thick to eat and sent them back to the kitchen, Crum became agitated and reacted by slicing the potatoes as thin as he possibly could, frying them and sending the crunchy brown chips back out to the guest. The guest loved the crisps and other guests began asking for them as well. They soon gained popularity and were called Crum’s Saratoga Chips. In 1860, when Crum opened his own restaurant, Crumbs House, each table came with a basket of potato chips. Crum never patented or attempted to distribute his potato chips, but has been credited as the creator of the widely popular snack.

 

The Blood Bank
Inventor: Charles Richard Drew M.D. (1904-1950)

Dr. Drew was a medical doctor and surgeon who created the idea of a blood bank and a system for the long-term preservation of blood plasma. His doctoral dissertation at Columbia University covered the condition of blood stored in blood banks and the method of storing blood as plasma to increase storage life. He later supervised the blood-plasma division of New York City’s Blood Transfusion Association, which was involved in collecting blood for the British Army. When America went to war in 1941, Dr. Drew was named as director of the blood bank for the National Research Council, collecting blood for the U.S. army and navy, and setting the groundwork for the Red Cross collecting and banking procedures. The storage of blood in plasma form has saved many lives since Dr. Drew brought the process forward in the 1930s.

 

Gas mask
Year patented: 1912
Inventor: Garrett Morgan (1877–1963)

In 1912, Morgan created a Safety Hood and patented it as a Breathing Device, which later came to be known as the Gas Mask. Morgan’s Gas Mask consisted of a hood with two long tubes, one allowing in clean air and the other allowing the user to exhale air out of the hood. Fire and police departments across the country began placing orders. With the outbreak of World War I and the use of poisonous gases, Morgan’s Gas Mask was utilized by the United States Army, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers.

 

The Supersoaker
Year patented: 1991
Inventor: Lonnie G. Johnson (1949- )

After a successful career as an Air Force and NASA scientist, Lonnie G. Johnson conceived his most famous invention in 1982, when he conducted an experiment at home on a heat pump that used water instead of Freon and as a result, his homemade nozzle shot a spray of water across the room. Johnson and his partner, Bruce D’Andrade, created a workable prototype of the SuperSoaker® in 1989 which became the world’s first high-performance, pressurized water gun. They filed for a joint patent, which was granted in 1991, and the SuperSoaker became the number-one selling toy in the country with more than $200 millions dollars in sales. Overall, Johnson has earned more than 80 patents, with more than 20 pending. He continues to invent in the areas of thermo and fluid dynamics, as well as toys.

 

Shoelasting Machine
Year patented: 1883
Inventor: Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852–1889)

As an apprentice in a shoe factory where he operated a sole-sewing machine, Jan Ernst Matzeliger was responsible for attaching different parts of a shoe together. At the time, no machines existed that could attach the upper part of a shoe to the sole, therefore it had to be done by hand. “Hand Lasters” were able to produce approximately 50 pairs of shoes a day. In 1882, Matzeliger perfected a shoe lasting machine that was able to complete 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day. By 1889 the demand of the shoe lasting machine was overwhelming and The Consolidated Lasting Machine Co. was formed, where Matzelinger was given huge blocks of stock for his invention. His machine had revolutionized the entire shoe industry in the U.S. and around the world.

If there are any facts that you dispute, or doubt, then fact-check it. You will be , hopefully, pleasantly surprised. Continue to perform research of inventions/inventors, and you will discover widely and definitely, strategically hidden knowledge of Black people, in America and around the world. Make a promise, not to me, but to yourself, that the more you learn, the more you will teach, and as culturally proficient equity-driven professionals, you can consider yourselves parts of the solution. Educate unafraid, and children will become better global citizens. Teach to diversity with respect for diversity. If not, we will continue to serve as parts of the problems we see. Be the change, teach the change, model the change and life will change!

How can we imagine life without Black people??!!!