Categories
African American History Black Culture Civil Rights Equity and Justice Juneteenth

Black Americans from Segregationists to Integrationists

As an emerging scholar-practitioner, I sometimes need to be reflective of my own biases and practice. When I speak of myself as a “segregationalist,” it’s through the construct of reminding myself that education for Black Americans was once better than what it is currently. It is straightforward. There are not many twists and turns.

Prior to Brown v. Board

Before Brown v. Board, many historically relevant documents state that Black Americans had a robust and successful approach to educating black children. Teachers built impactful relationships with families, and education was through a community infused lens.

Segregation Was Once Our Reality

Now, when some folks hear or read the term “segregationist,” it becomes a tough pill to swallow. To effectively move forward in today’s society, it will take acknowledgment that most are unwilling to give. That does not mean these people are evil. It just means we have to meet people where they are to get them where they need to be.

Black Lives Matter

I recently wrote an official statement to my school community regarding my stance on Black Lives. Given the community outside of my school, I understood in great detail how such a message could become misconstrued.

No Really, They Matter

Statements and actions that support Black Americans and their lives mattering should not make any other race feel uncomfortable. No one is saying that different races’ lives do not matter. All Black folks are saying is that our lives matter just as much as everyone else’s lives.

Using Social Media & National Platforms Responsibly

Being a school leader with a national platform is sometimes tricky. Knowing that people play on your every word makes you have to be intentional about every word you speak, tweet, or write. No one wants to dialogue about their differences anymore. It is easier to send anonymous emails or tweets from avatars calling for the demise of those that may or may not have the same set of beliefs that you may have.

Eight Black Hands Podcast Episode: 66

I’m writing this for those that may feel alone. You are not. In Episode 66 of the 8 Black Hands Podcast, we talked specifically about being black in predominately white spaces. People always want to interpolate each other’s experiences. In other words, if a white person in a position of power says, “White lives matter,” folks view it as racist. Some people believe the same standard should occur when Black leaders say, “Black Lives Matter.”

Knees on Neck

It is unfortunate that in 2020 conversations about race and inequity are still so painful. Yet we are given daily reminders of what it means to be Black in America. From knees on knecks to being hunted in the streets. From anonymous emails, from folks combing through your tweets. No one ever said living would be comfortable, but no one ever said life would be this hard.

Using Critical Race Theory Appropriately

Looking at school integration from the perspective of a Critical Race theorist is interesting. CRT forces you to look at the power dynamics that exist in society as well as education, and admit that these dynamics are alive and well. Documented through stories and lived experiences, we should all be so lucky to see the world through this lens. Unfortunately, most do not understand their power. The lack of understanding of power makes conversations about privilege difficult.

Transitioning from a Segregationist to an Integrationist w/ Care

My transition to becoming an integrationist from a segregationist has not always been smooth. I take offense when people ask us to forget our history. When I hear terms like, “Slavery happened, get over it,” or stereotypes like “Blacks are lazy.” The same people that make stereotypical comments about blacks being lazy were not working hand in hand with Black Americans during slavery. They were overseeing the work from a position of power. A place that is alive and well to this very day.

White “Allyship”

So, when I call for “white allyship,” It is not said to say white people are bad people. It is just a nuanced way to say that for us to address racism in the United States adequately, we have to take a collective effort.

With this, I cordially invite you to our first annual Juneteenth March for Justice.

Categories
Civil Rights Education Education Reform Equity and Justice Politics

MLK Day Energy

MLK Day Reflection 

Today is MLK day. You are going to see tons of messages and post-humanist depictions of MLK, his words, and his speeches. But tomorrow, Tuesday the day after his birthday is celebrated, 99% of this MLK Day Energy will be lost.

My question is, and it’s an important one, how can we sustain and maintain this MLK Day Energy 365/24/7?

My Anxiety.

Usually, I am anxious when reading pieces about white self-reflection and introspection. Call me a skeptic, but sometimes I feel some white people have an inability to accept their guilt and acknowledge their privilege. So when I first contemplated reading this piece, Going Beyond MLK’s ‘Dream’ and Getting Uncomfortable in the Classroom, by Zachery Wright in ed post, I was very apprehensive. But after reading his article, I had a takeaway that I wanted to share.

Moving beyond "Allyship".
MLK on Education.


Hell, I still have anxiety typing the words white people because of traumatic experiences I have either witnessed or encountered.


8 Black Hands Podcast.

Yesterday the crew and I @8BlackHands1 did a live podcast in New Orleans with the National Parents Union. The crew and I talked candidly during the show about people stepping up to the plate to aid and assist us in the education reform movement. It is no longer acceptable for folks to like a tweet here, send an encouraging DM there, etc. 

Moreover, the fellas and I talked about Allies, co-conspirators, and white people making calculated efforts to lead this movement. Consequently, we posed a question on twitter that got some interesting responses. Lastly, the question that was asked was what is the next step in advocacy beyond being an ally and a co-conspirator?

The tweet turned into an engaging conversation in which people shared their thoughts about the next phase of support.  

Moving Past Being Allies, & Co-Conspirators.

Based on the responses, we narrowed it down to the following:

1) Lead Dismantler 

2) Defector

3) Unappologeticist 

4) Preservationist 

5) Disruptor 

Survey.

We will put a survey up on the @8Blackhands1 twitter account and run it for 1-Day. Thank you for all that suggested this new way of activating agency. Because together we are unstoppable and living the Dream set forth by Dr. King. The importance of living in this reality is our ability to match this MLK Day Energy every day and not just that one Monday in January.

Categories
Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice Parenting Politics School Choice

Parents Need to Unionize

Parents Need A Union.

First and foremost, when it comes down to schools, I’m a firm believer that parents need to unionize. Unions protect the best interest of their members. Secondly, In many of these schools, teachers and administrators have an association. Additionally, the only stakeholder that left unprotected is the families that send their kids to these schools blindly every day.

Blind Trust.

Hence, I remember my schooling as if it was yesterday. Often I felt bullied by teachers. Grades and grading policies were subjective, and family history could get you the benefit of the doubt. Because, for example, if you had a sibling perceived as a “good kid” of if teachers thought you came from a “good family,” they were more willing to work with you. But what about the students and families that don’t fit neatly in a box, whose looking out for their best interests? You got it, no one. All the more reason parents need to unionize.

How would a parent union look?

For that reason, Kerry Rodriguez of Massachusetts and Alma Vivian Marquez of California are the co-founders of the movement. This particular group builds agency within the parent ranks, in hopes to train parents to better advocate for their children.

Information on NPU.

Moreover, where can you find more information about joining the National Parents Union movement? It’s funny, you should ask. It seems like Google is suppressing searches for this parent group. The teacher’s unions are actively campaigning against this parent group. Even in its infancy stages, the mere thought of parents organizing on behalf of their children is terrible. Advocation for children is “theater of the absurd” material for some people.

The Funny Thing About Funding.

Often times when people encounter a message they don’t like in public advocacy, they start attacking the funders of the word. I don’t know who funds NPU. I don’t care. Here’s why: If these women were smart enough to come up with an idea, and get people to follow it, and corporations to donate to it, they’ve activated their agency. For that reason, to steal a phrase coined by my pod mate Dr. Charles Cole, “They’re Agentic AF.” Based on America’s treatment of Black and Brown students in schools, Parents need to unionize. I said what I said!

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Civil Rights Education Reform Equity and Justice

Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh!  Below is an excerpt from Brother El-Mekki’s speech at a school choice protest in Pittsburgh.  This is one of those once in a lifetime speeches, that can galvanize the school choice movement.  I’m happy that I was there to capture it.  Below: El-Mekki Live from Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh.

00:05
special interest group you know we have
00:08
especially just group to our children
00:11
[Applause]
00:14
not the affluent not influential our
00:18
special interest group of our children
00:20
and we’re going to fight it up and
00:21
saying we talked about choice we’re
00:23
talking about a long legacy of people in
00:25
communities fighting scraping pushing to
00:30
make sure that their child has the
00:31
education that they deserve the
00:34
education that other people take for
00:35
granted and don’t let them fool you
00:38
there’s not a single person who does
00:40
that believe in my child my choice they
00:43
just believe you only deserve it if you
00:45
can afford it if you can’t afford a
00:50
higher mortgage three times of what
00:52
you’re paying you don’t deserve it if
00:55

Zip Code School Choice.

you can’t afford a $30,000 high school
00:59
some of them started elementary their
01:02
pre-k is right now that people are
01:04
choosing that costs 20 something
01:06
thousand dollars and they’re like if you
01:08
can’t afford it you don’t deserve it
01:11
well we’re here to say we deserve it
01:13
because we are human beings children
01:17
justice is not just for two influential
01:21
and flloyd it is for everyone it is the
01:24
human right and when I can look at my
01:27
community and look at the same same
01:30
schools that my grandparents refused to
01:33
put my mother and father in and they
01:35
will look at me now let’s say don’t you
01:37
put my grandbaby in that school then we
01:39
have a problem and who’s held that held
01:42
accountable for that we’ve always chosen
01:46
so I don’t even want to say like it’s
01:47
just charted it’s a continuum of choice
01:50

Bad Schools Are Bad Schools.

right before charters and when they say
01:53
that Oh charters is the problem
01:54
they sound like the people that say make
01:56
America great again
01:59
they say and make America’s schools
02:00
great again and for us it has never been
02:03
a great experience so when they say
02:06
things like that let’s continue to hold
02:08
them accountable continue to push back
02:10
continue to make your voices heard make
02:14
sure that they are aware that there are
02:16
thousands of students who are on
02:18
weightless
02:20
weightless waiting their mamas in jail
02:23
who are trying to find a better choice
02:25
there are people who had to use
02:27
different addresses people went to
02:29
scraping in and live with people
02:32
that just you know and increase the
02:35

Any Means Necessary.

number of people in the apartment like
02:36
anything by any means necessary to
02:39
improve the educational outcomes for
02:42
their child but we’re not just about our
02:44
children like they are because there’s
02:46
some people they only care about their
02:47
we care about all children and they talk
02:51
about being undemocratic there’s nothing
02:53
more undemocratic than say only the
02:55
elite only the affluent and only the
02:59
influential get to make good options to
03:03
have access to quality options for their
03:05
child nothing’s more oppressive than
03:07
that so I stand with you we stand
03:11

Standing with the people.

together we stand for those who are not
03:13
here but we’re here for the in spirit
03:17
because the idea of not having access to
03:21
quality education for our children for
03:24
our communities is a it’s a non-starter
03:27
we not going to be quiet we’re not gonna
03:30
be silent and we’re gonna make sure that
03:32
we are heard every single moment but Dad
03:35
is what our children deserve I come from
03:37
a long line of freedom fighters my
03:39

Black Panther Parents.

parents were in the Black Panther Party
03:41
and you know
03:42
right they were making options my first
03:44
school as an elementary school student
03:46
within someone’s basement cuz they think
03:48
you know what until we can get a
03:49
building we’re gonna start a school we
03:51
are opting out of that system and we are
03:54
creating something for these babies
03:55
that’s what they started so that’s the
03:58
legacy so I will be with you forever as
04:00
long as we don’t have quality option for
04:03
every single child in this country and
04:05
with today we start right here in the
04:07
Berg thank you Mike
Pittsburgh is amazing.  We had the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh twice in 2019.  I look forward to the opportunity to return to Pittsburgh.
Categories
Charter Schools Civil Rights Equity and Justice

Urban Dove Charter School

Urban Dove.

Urban Dove Charter School, a sort of 2nd chance charter school for students that fail the 9th grade, is currently experiencing a type of racism that no one wants to discuss. The Orthodox Jewish folks in Crown Heights Brooklyn does not wish to this school with its demographics in their neighborhood. A recently released article captures the sentiment of the Orthodox Jewish community perfectly.

Urban Dove Mission.

Why are you going so hard for this school?

Honestly, I knew very little about the school.  But after researching it more, it began to appeal to me.  The city I grew up in is very sports orientated.  Many people that made it out, did so by utilizing an athletic gift.  I’m thinking about what if my town had an Urban Dove?  It could have quite possibly changed the trajectory of a lot of people in my city and gave them a chance at life.  Here’s more info on Urban Dove Charter School.

Vitriol Racism.

Moreover, this goes way beyond the type of racism that you may think. It brings you back to the Civil Rights Movement and the vitriol racism blacks faced by whites in the South. But let’s remember this is NYC. The progressive North is usually responsible for subtle versions of racism. The type of racism that you know is there but often hides under layers of formalities and nuance. Whereas the Overt Southern racism is the type of racism that figuratively punches you in the face, and is all too obvious.

Nigger Boy Email.

The following is an email that was sent to the inbox of the Empire Charter Consultants group.  Now, I have to warn you, as someone that was born in the South, I have never heard or saw the words “Nigger Boy” used together.  I have heard of stories, but this is a first for me.  Orthodox Jews feel about black students from Urban Dove inhabiting a space in Brooklyn. If roles reversed, this would surely have the optics of a hate crime. These kids want a good education, and they deserve it.

No one (regardless of race or creed) should be able to stop this. It is beyond me why the Jewish community feels this way about Black kids. These racist underpinnings may be deeper rooted than a simple eye test.

These are Kids.

However, my point is these are kids. And the response and actions to deny these black students access to space based on the fact that they are black are beyond racist.

These kids have already fallen through the cracks. Their focus needs to be on schooling and credit recovery. Orthodox Jews that live in the community should accept and embrace these students. This story should be getting a lot more attention than it is receiving. It is a painful reminder of how insignificant blacks are in the lens of others.

Categories
Civil Rights Equity and Justice Politics

Coach Smith!

Some call him Coach, I call him A. I’m referring to Coach Aden Smith, Sr., whose team just celebrated winning the Long Island County Championship in a 49-7 victory against Nassau County Powerhouse Seaford. Coach Smith’s Shoreham Wading River Wildcats was the Suffolk County Representative in the championship game after defeating rival Mt. Sinai.

Coach Smith’s Energy.

If you know Aden, you know he’s a very intense guy. Not highly recruited out of High School, he decided to play his college football at the University of Stony Brook. My first encounter with Coach Smith was interesting. I was talking with one of his teammates. He was a defensive back. I told him if I played WR, they’d take his scholarship. Aden immediately came to his defense. I liked Smith’s approach and immediately took him under my wing as my protege.

Split Second Decision Making by Coach Smith.

Circa 2019. This season started badly for my friend, the head ball coach. Smith and his SWR team were involved in an early-season scrimmage vs. Babylon. Against Smith’s better judgment, and without proper officials in place to referee the game, Smith and his team played the game. The game got “chippy,” and the students ended up in a physical altercation. Smith, acting in the best interest and safety of his players, intervened and stopped a student from the opposing team from sucker punching one of his students.

Media Hypocrisy.

The media crucified Coach Smith for his actions. It was a relentless assault on his character and his decision making. As my good friend was experiencing this situation, I checked on him frequently. He was always in good spirits, and he would always end our check-ins with his patented phrase, “One day at a time.”

The superintendent of SWR faced a challenge. On the one hand, you have the media putting pressure on the guy to terminate the coach. On the other hand, Smith’s team stepped up, the parents of the players stepped up, and said without Smith’s actions that day, someone could have gotten badly hurt. With this testimony, the SWR superintendent made the right call in Bringing Coach Smith back to the sidelines.

Long live the Ques! ΩΨΦ

Today as I write this blog post, I’m incredibly proud of my fraternity brother (ΩΨΦ) Coach Aden Smith, Sr. Guy, you persevered and pushed through the adversity and brought home a championship. Your legacy cemented forever. I’m proud of you, brother, God Bless!