Cosby’s Preventive Maintenance Plan

 

 

 

Just days after a deadlocked jury released Mr. Bill Cosby from criminal sexual assault charges, the news is that he plans to embark upon a national tour, a series of Town Hall events. First, who would come and would people pay, or would anyone attend at no cost at all? This man, a beloved iconic figure, with groudbreaking accomplishments under his career belt, is now rendered a ‘fallen son’. Though many of us, including myself, practically cut our teeth on this man’s comedy, movies and tv shows,  memories will forever be fond in our hearts. Unfortunately, whenever a wave of nostalgia comes over, as we contemplate Bill Cosby’s life and worldview altering impact, there will surely be an afterthought,”…BUT HE…”.

Having not be proven guilty of the sexual assault charges by a jury of his ‘peers’, the judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial….this time. What confuses me is that since so many women accusers have come forth with allegations of Cosby’s unethical sexual advances and assaults, I can’t understand what took so long to bring these women to the fore. I think that the impact would have been greater if the claims were made during the height of his career. He certainly commanded more celebrity power,  influence and his pockets were certainly fat[ter].

Most of these claims alleged that his misconduct occured at least 10 years ago. He was younger, not yet declared legally blind, and still a very viable commodity in Hollywood, in academia and probably politically, too.

Playing the devil’s advocate, if he spent so many years abusing female engenues, wouldn’t there have been rumors, gossip or some scuttlebutt around town, or among Hollywood insiders? And where were his friends at the time? His co-stars? People talk, and why weren’t there rumors that spread, or why was there never any coverage in the National Inquirer, Liz Smith or any other columnists…ever? Not a hint! No one is THAT good.

I am not doubting that this man had abused some of these women to some degree, male ego, a grab here or there??? Why not cry out afterwards or tell someone close to them, if not proceed to the nearest police station to restore their faith in justice or defend their rights as women to say ‘no’ and lucid when they do so? I understand the inner turmoil they must have felt and the wavering feelings of self-blame and self-defense. I understand that there must have been fear that people would not believe, would cast doubt and blame the victim, and the feelings of shame. A strong, intelligent woman would not allow that to happen. She must have done something to provoke the actions. There could have been responses from others that would mimic their disappointment in her, not him.

He could have forewarned them by reminding them that they were doing drugs, and who would believe them once that was discovered. He could have reminded each one that he has influence and power and it would be his word against hers. Who would believe a relative unknown, powerless female against the word of America’s favorite father and great philanthropist, too. All of these scenarios are possible, maybe even probable. Yet, that still doesn’t explain why more than 40 women didn’t come forth separately, and years ago. The laws of probability says that out of 40, at least 5 women would step forward, take to the streets and the court of popular opinion to raise ‘holy hell’. Damn the celebrity!

Now, though, Cosby is older, not bringing in the bucks and quite frankly, doesn’t have too many more years to be among us. Could it be the money card? Now that these women have found each other, are they looking for a paycheck, because at his age, what good would it do to place him in jail? He is already a prisoner within his mind, because of the loss of vitality, popularity, and his former appeal has been limited to older women. He is a grandfather, but with an awesome and rich legacy to be left behind. Would anyone really sentence him to prison, should a guilty verdict ever be delivered?

Bill Cosby’s guilt has not been proven, nor has his innocence. So, his next move for now is to travel and teach young men  to avoid being the subject of charges of sexual assault or harassment. On the surface, a good idea. Deeper – the worst idea of the century!

All in all, Bill Cosby has been America’s most famous doctor, tv dad, and now he has become the target of some personal vendetta. He may have pissed off someone who asked a favor of his ‘influence’ to help open doors, launch a project, loan money to which he refused. Feelings were hurt and here we are now.

Or, there is another theory…the historically- systematic character assassinations and the targeted destruction of charismatic,  successful and positive men of color, whose otherwise unblemished life and legacy will not be allowed to be written as such. Limit positive black male role models and limit potential  of young black men to follow suit or believe it is possible for them to live productively. Don’t change the narrative!

Listen, we all are human, and ‘he without sins…’. But this man has been an activist, a philanthropist beyond any level to which we are aware. He has been a consummate family man, in his professional life. No ‘blue’ humor! No blue movies! It is unimaginable as to the millions, maybe billions that he made for the NBC network, not to mention JELLO brand. Cartoons, based on his life with family and friends during his growing years! This man was mocked by comedians about his dislike of profanity used on stage. He was the picture of ‘family’ values. Research his giving, donations, and causes he supported…all positive!

My cousin attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut with one of his daughters, or it was his son, Ennis. I forget, but all girls, one boy and he died. One wife, and she is still there. It is just hard to believe that the way Hollywood gossips, that when he was Numero Uno salaried artist who, by the way, launched many careers, he was not ‘de-throned’ when it would have had maximum impact.

Perhaps, it is just my own prejudice for what he did to challenge narratives and debunk negative stereotypes of the black family in America. Long before ABCs ‘Black-ish, which I absolutely love for both its humor and the subtle messages they deliver each week, there was Bill Cosby. No matter the ‘questionable’ allegations, he will always be the African-American role model who instrumentally became the change many wish to see. Noteworthy, not newsworthy or notorious, but a  benevolent man who enjoyed a very private celebrity in an industry where privacy is rarely enjoyed. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Bill Cosby, our ‘Dr. Huxtable’!

 

“June-teenth” Anyone???

On this day, June 19, 1865, the lawful practice of slavery in these United States of America was officially abolished, terminated, never-more. This is a very important day in our national history, but you can almost bet that very, very few people know the meaning-the significance- of this date in the lives of not only people of color, African-Americans, but it is a symbolic date for all Americans.

We all are aware that  holding African people in bondage was a practice of the  grossly inhumane treatment of people of color, Africans, then African-Americans, from the very founding of this nation. To date,  we remain a nation unwilling to reflect, examine, reconcile or teach about this major part of U.S. history. Yes, we do teach about slavery, pre-Civil War era in our nation’s K-12 public and private schools, but we spend a yearly average of one 40-minute instructional period fully devoted to this part of our nation’s past.

We neglect to tell children, at critical ages in their development and before their worldviews are rigidly formed, about the most horrible sins committed in this country. Yet, we explore, in great depth, the cruelties, genocide, and the inhumanities of other countries against its own people or other human beings. Our versions are cloaked under the umbrella of religious beliefs or political ideologies to explain the rise of ‘terrorism’ and ‘radicalization’ of their citizenry. Quite the irony, though! According to news sources and political propaganda, the internal strife within foreign nations have existed maybe 50 years, at best.

Our inhumane treatment of other human beings, our citizenry, 1/4 citizenry, persisted more than 246 years. That is generation upon generation of the practices, policies, procedures,, and perspectives, which, by now, are deeply entrenched in this nation’s collective sub-conscious. By the way, in the state of Texas, for example, post Civil War, they continued to enslave blacks for at least three years. After the Emancipation Proclamation was officially signed, it wasn’t until two years that ‘slaves’ were freed. That is but one such example of the refusal to relinquish such powers over others; a way of life. Entitlement?

Before the 1st draft of our U.S. Constitution, upon which we still rely, and are governed by, there were enslaved humans in America. When the pilgrims arrived on this soil, as political refugees, explorers and immigrants, they brought the 1st Africans with them. They were not met with savages as some wanted others to believe. They encountered indigenous peoples already living and inhabiting the country. In 1865, slavery was no longer a legally sanctioned practice in the slave holding states, but the practice did not end there, on that very day or in that same year.

In the minds of many whites, they became entitled to ‘own’ people as property. They had learned that in order to detach themselves from emotions, or empathy for these people, they had to convince themselves and everyone else that those practices were not wrong or cruel at all. Thus was borne negative imagery, stereotypes, and segregation, etc…. As we progressed a few more generations, people began to acknowledge some of those policies, rights and practices, decreed in our founding documents that impacted people at all levels of society,  were designed in preservation of the ‘acquired’ entitlement, privilege, and dehumanization of blacks was immensely wrong, self-serving and sinful.

Pseudo-scientific research was provided to slave-owners and whites in general, and even though free people, there was still resentment of these persons who no longer had to ‘obey’ as subservient pieces of property, and the cessation of  free labor. I compare the subsequent actions, and residual discontentment with progress to a child who lost a former friend, and now that this person left, they wanted to prevent anyone else from becoming friends. So, what kids do is they ‘bad-mouth’ that person-everywhere they went to prevent happiness, and make themselves feel better. Also, in the back of their minds is the hopes for their misery to bring their return. But, it doesn’t happen! This brought more anger, and so there was an escalation- laws like Jim Crow, voting restrictions, and a host of others.

Here we are with unacknowledged, untaught, misunderstood HIS-story in the 21st Century, and there is divisiveness to no end. What happens when you grow accustomed to a certain way of life, a way of looking at life, and others, is that when things begin to change, we will often resist. It is not an easy challenge to exercise bravery and confront mistakes and then actually change that which goes against the very things we inherently understand are wrong. We make excuses, we pretend we don’t see it, we look to someone else should there be fault.

June-teenth is a significant day for the U.S., on par with The 4th of July. Independence day, yes! Independent of remnants, not yet! America has never been great, except at bullying and hood-winking others whom they quietly consider ‘inferior’, until the goals are met. At that point, friendship, camaraderie and supportive intent disappears. I love our nation, but we must take an honest look at ourselves, and try to take a look from someone else’s perspective in relation to that which we consider ‘different’ or ‘diversity’. Fortunately, we can get there. We can be great, but honesty precedes greatness.

It won’t be easy, but anything worth having is usually not very easy, simple or uncomplicated. We are worth it, we can and must cultivate the empathy required to broaden perspectives, reflect, revise, and reimagine the values upon which this nation was founded. With the sincere desire for a peaceful tomorrow, we must fully examine yesterday and begin the work today.

Our children don’t have to repeat the mistakes we have made, because we all do. In order that they learn to act, believe and relate to one another differently, we will demonstrate to them exactly what the mistakes were, whom they harmed, how we have covered them up, and then they will better understand how to avoid them. We can end the cycle, and start when they are young. Teach age-appropriate truths,  no omission of cause and effect in any aspect of life impacted by human beings. Cultivate compassion and empathy, and out of these emotions comes tolerance, respect and appreciation of the historic symbolism of June-teenth in America.

Intent, impact; cause, effect.

Bring Juneteenth to school!

 

By Any Other Name…. It Is Still Called Segregation

Interestingly, within a U.S. city as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and diversely populated as New York City, it boggles the mind that their public education system encompasses all five boroughs, flows through so many different communities, cultures and yet… an overwhelmingly segregated school system.

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is the largest school district in the U.S., serving 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. Nearly 77% of the students live in or near poverty, and combined, black and Hispanic students make up over 70% of their enrollment. Teachers remain overwhelmingly white, and represent significant cultural mismatches, but that doesn’t mean that this is necessarily problematic. Race and culture don’t determine efficacy. The ‘problems’ exist in a different realm.

Of late, the focus is on student demographic data, disaggregated by race and class. This means, plainly spoken, the student populations are not reflected in the schools they attend and there is a recognizable pattern of enrollment across the city’s schools. This pattern suggests extreme segregation due to clustering. Black kids go to school with black kids. White kids with white kids, affluent with affluent-no healthy cross-section. Newly unveiled plans to address the disturbing patterns in a number of ways.

#1. Plans are to make the schools representative of the overall student population. Over 70% of students in all school districts across the 5 boroughs of NYC are black and Hispanic, who represent 30% and 40% respectively. However, school enrollment demographics do not reflect those numbers. So, soon the general enrollment is to be less segregated by race and more balanced student diversity.

#2. Schools are greatly segregated along class lines as well. Duh! The proposed changes once again are to be more reflective of the general population. Some schools have large numbers of high needs students enrolled  in similarly disproportionate fashion. Even the ‘limited selection’ schools are about to be tweaked in terms of their enrollment/admissions process.

Normal selection process in such schools, has interest that determines the student selection for attendance. If students attend open houses, as an expression of interest in those schools, then they are selected to enroll. This process places many students in poorer families at a disadvantage. The affordability of transportation, time off work, etc… are factors that limit their access. So, that will change, too. Of course, all such changes will be incremental. No one can withstand radical change, it seems. How radical is de-segregation? In the 21st Century?

 

It is noteworthy that in all new school proposals to be implemented by the Department of Education, not anywhere is explicit language used to describe the root symptom of the identified problems-segregation and integration. Instead, diversity is the common term to describe de-segregation of public schools.

Diversity is everywhere we look, and everywhere we go, and within every school’s core student population, no matter the racial make-up. But, the ‘implied’ in this students of color and students of families with lower household incomes are not attending every school at numbers that reflect the city-wide student demographic.

Let’s call it what it is, NYC…SEGREGATION !!

 

 

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change, too. Of course, all such changes will be incremental. No one can withstand radical change, it seems. How radical is de-segregation? In the 21st Century!

It is just noteworthy and questionable that in all new proposals, not anywhere is explicit language used to describe the root problem-segregation, integration. Instead, diversity is the coined term. Diversity is everywhere we look, and everywhere we go, and within every school’s core student population, no matter the racial make-up. But, the ‘implied’ students of color and students of families with lower household incomes are not attending every school at numbers that reflect the city-wide student demographic population. We’re still evading the main issue.

Additional noteworthiness in these new plans is that there is a clear absence of any plans for staff training, professional development, diversity workshops, cultural proficiency courses, or any system-wide, initiatives that will be undertaken at all levels in aim to prepare and equip school based staff for the new slice of ‘diversity’ soon to enter their school buildings and classrooms. Segreation didn’t happen by chance, but by deliberated choice, therefore by design.  Not only is re-design an imperative, but so is the general re-design of the framework of policies, practices, procedures, programs, and personnel, too.

Best practices, as an informational guide to all of the above, need to be re-evaluated, revised, researched, and reconsidered in all school environments. If student populations are to change, radically, in some cases, we will merely start a ‘grease fire’ in districts across the city without well thought out transitional processes. There are a number of components about which we mustn’t neglect in this design, should we wish for success and positively impact all lives.

Prepare the students themselves, for when students acquire the tools, mindsets, that enable them to appreciate, respect, and not just tolerate differences, they will be more eager to collaborate in and outside of school settings.

Proactively prepare the staff, for when staff acquire the tools that will enhance their already present competencies with cultural competence, they will experience less job-related stress, and will develop and sustain relationships with students and families. Differentiated instruction will be delivered with optimal positive outcomes. Win-Win!

Prepare the community, PARENTS AT THE TOP OF THAT LIST, for when the community stakeholders are informed, involved, invited, and aligned with mission, and school-related decisions, we empower an entire community, and gain powerful, influential allies, too. Win-Win!

Prepare ourselves. Essentially, we must be individually and then collectively ready to facilitate true educational equity, and ensure school success for every child, and partner with every parent. All students can then engage, learn, thrive, and travel the pathways to potential recognized and realized within this new structural design of 21st century learning environments. The absolute 1st step before incrementally introducing physical shifts, transfers, district changes being proposed here.

That part of the preparation process that exists to impact every student in every classroom is in the curriculum (re-)design. Must, must, must be overhauled, more inclusive, and respectful and responsively incorporate into academic and life lessons all different faces, races, religions, cultures, communities, etc…

Instruction, supported and supplemented by the inclusion of real life, present and past in all forms, is both relevant and engaging. Besides preparing students to engage in a global society, respect ‘diversity’ and feel validated, they will certainly enjoy learning in the classrooms much more than they do today, or more than their parents may have appreciated or enjoyed school yesterday.

How will students learn to respect ‘different’ if they don’t learn about different people, different experiences, realities, histories, traditions, opinions, worldviews? How can a black child feel good about him/herself if they never learn about themselves through learning about others who look like themselves? Certainly, we aren’t that far removed from reality that we actually expect an overwhelming majority of black children to excel at, near or greater levels than their counterparts with the content provided in schools today. Motivating students to want to learn, achieve, dream, engage, and behave depends as much on content as relationship between teachers, families and student.

Children, by and large, are taught throughout their k-12 education by learning about white people, through white eyes, from white perspectives. That doesn’t work, and with increasing diversity, we must use the current data on instructional content and achievement to better inform us. Everything about education must change, and this means the curriculum; not subject, not rigor – the lack of contextual diversity and cultural relevance must be altered.  We expect black kids to learn and want to learn about Pythagoras theory, but we don’t tell them that this math pioneer was of African descent.

Oh, sure! We throw a few bones to black kids each year, but how long should they have to wait before school become places where they want to be, not just mandated to be?

 

FOR NOW, LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS, PEOPLE….. DE-SEGREGATION!

 

When Will We No Longer Live In The United States of ‘AMNESIA’?

Hunter College of the City University of New York[CUNY] system of public colleges and higher learning institutions has a newly added course in its Fall 2017 catalog that examines “how whiteness – and/or white supremacy and violence – is intertwined with conceptions of gender, race, sexuality, class, body ability, nationality, and age.”The Abolition of Whiteness,” taught by Prof. Jennifer Gaboury, can be taken as either a women and gender studies course or a political science class, according to the school’s online course catalog.

When you hear the course title, how does that make you feel? Black or White persons, does it sound ‘divisive to you?Why or why not? In the 21st Century, why would anyone bother to attend or even enroll in this class? Because of its provocative title alone, it invites conversation, both in and outside of the classroom. Deemed irrelevant by many, but so essential to enlightenment, is civil dialogue. It is not enough to acknowledge an ‘elephant’ in the room; we must contemplate how it got there in the first place. Then we may work together towards solution-finding.

This new college course has been designed to heighten awareness of ‘white privilege’ and way it shapes[-ed] our politics, policies, and perspectives regarding the ‘other’-race in this country. Though we purport to be an equal opportunity country that allows and encourages everyone to pull themselves up by their own ‘bootstraps’, the playing field is not and has never been level. Upward mobility is not made possible by sheer desire, hard work and determination alone. Race and ethnicity remain embedded in the accessibility to opportunity. In short, people of color have fewer opportunities to achieve legitimate school, work and life success in this country…even in the 21st Century.[that summons a different argument] Why? How?

Well, in order to ponder the answers to these questions, we must take a look at our society through a wider lens, and we must return to history. Critical thinking is borne out of an honest, more complete exploration of the original sins committed within our borders, and from without. Emphasis must be on what events and conditions led an entire national consciousness and collective conscience to create a social construct from which divisive policies were supported and implemented. Throughout our national history, a divisive legacy was inherited by the sons and daughters of the original sinners, and continues to be passed on into the 21st Century.

Courses such as this one at Hunter College recognize the aim of higher education, and draws from our personal histories to cultivate a new consciousness, by encouraging critical thinking. It is the fully inclusive information acquisition that enables us to pick apart the rhetoric and  find solutions to today’s problems. Without courses that make us think differently, we will continue to pass down the legacy that all wish to forget. This past was considered necessary at that time, but today, it is perceived as it was- oppressive and inhumane. Thus, it is inexcusable and unforgivable to allow any elements from that past to persist and impact lives of a more sophisticated people. We know better, yet still governed by oppressive policies and practices in America today.

This course and certainly more to follow, is not meant to be a vehicle for increased racial tensions, bias and prejudice. Quite the opposite.

This course plants the seeds for change, positive change, and starts the necessary dialogue required of this change. It is that dialogue, this forum of reasoning, questioning, and learning, that will enable our next leaders to dedicate their life’s work to ensure the realization of democracy in its most pure form. It is within higher learning venues, that our gateways to change flourish, and learners, in pursuit of  their personal excellence, are bold enough to engage in the conversations to create a new culturally-proficient legacy.

This is a forum that allows learners to release the generations-long guilt, abandon any resentment, unmask  irrational fears, broaden perspectives, and participate  in a collective catharsis

We speak about Mexican deportation and Muslim bans, and that represents the darkest of potential of our humanity. This represents our fear of the inherent goodness and  inalienable rights of all to live, breathe and believe freely in the U.S. We are and should be stronger, a globalized model of leadership, that the whole world looks up to. Separatism, has no place here in this land and what we do here will be echoed throughout the world. Wake up children! Wake up people! We live in the United States of America!

With as many inter-racial unions as there are today, openly loving caring for and defending their rights to show that love why must we continue to oppress? Whether you are on the side of ‘white privilege’ or ‘black pride’, we must understand that this notion of defending either side is harmful ultimately to both. Whether you like it or not, approve or otherwise disapprove, it is unfair as parents, people, humans, for us to continue to adhere to beliefs that neither you nor I know from whence they originated.  Let us begin to cure this amnesia, and gather in support of new realities and  strengthen capacity for loving and living unburdened by the weight of racial tensions-whiteness.

Harvard Magazine recognized a new collection of writers, college courses and workshops designed to enlighten white people as to the “real benefits and the great cost of their property in whiteness”. It also noted a long tradition among the white race as a peculiar sort of social formation, one that depends on its members’ willingness to conform to the institutions and behavior patterns that reproduce it.

In addition to the notion of race as a social construct, people are drawn by the conditions of their lives in two opposite directions, one that mirrors and reproduces the present society of competition and exploitation, and another that points toward a new society based on freely associated activity. This internal antagonism plays itself out as a civil war within the white mind, between the desire of whites to wall themselves off from black Americans and their desire to overcome the boundaries that kept them apart. ‘NIMBY!’

Every group within white America has at one time or another advanced its particular and narrowly defined interests at the expense of black people as a race. That applies to labor unionists, ethnic groups, college students, schoolteachers, taxpayers, and white women.

Quite frankly, the system is truly rigged against certain groups of people, and the evidence of this has been masked under the reinforced illusions of negative stereotypes. Instead of viewing the reality that there are inherent obstacles to opportunity and upward mobility for some peoples, we prefer to cast blame, shake our fingers and attribute poverty and its correlated effects to those whose life circumstance reflect their own ‘laziness’.

So, this course is not designed to cast blame or facilitate any additional tension or divisiveness. It is the start of productive conversation, dialogue and facilitate an awareness among the next genertion of leaders who will shape policies, influence and challenge the ‘group think’ that perpetuates apathy and historic ‘Amnesia’. It is not possible to understand the reality of today or plan for brighter tomorrows, if we do not know who or where we were yesterday. Learners, equipped with the knowledge and awareness to create a more united nation, this course represents a cure for amnesia.