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
African American History Black Culture Civil Rights Education Education Reform Equity and Justice trauma

The Edupurist Podcast

The “Edupurists” Podcast.

 (Click this link for the new podcast) 

The Edupurist Podcast focuses on education in its purest form, the truth. The Edupurist podcast will shed light on the many issues that affect Black/Brown families. Each episode will focus on changing the narrative by using education as a catalyst for change. The goal is to shed light and love while being super critical of a system that not necessarily designed to uplift Black/Brown students.

8 Black hands Conglomerate.

So, many of you have heard the crew and me on the 8 Black Hands Podcast. The 8 Black hands podcast is when we come together to form Black Voltron in the podcast space. However, currently, we are all in the development stages for our podcast efforts. We will continue to record our 8 Black Hands podcast, but to give you more content, we decided to host individual podcasts under the 8 Black Hands umbrella. So, look out for six other hands and their podcasts coming real soon.

Episode 1- When the See Us.

A lot has been made about the new Netflix series When They See Us. Ava DuVernay did a fantastic job of bringing this to life. The way that she was able to bring truth power speaks volume about her talent. DuVernay is a national treasure, and we should celebrate her as such.

Guest(s).

In this episode, we have two guests. Mr. Terrell Dozier, Dean of Students and Families at the Riverhead Charter School. We also have Mr. Khari Shabazz, a Principal in the Success Academy Network. I was honored to be able to “chop” it up with these fellas regarding pertinent issues that benefit Black/Brown families.

Cinematic Importance.

These performances were as real as it gets. It doesn’t or probably will never bring justice to this situation, but there was power in these portrayals. When thinking about these performances, one person comes to mind; Korey Wise. The actor that played Korey Wise deserves all of the accolades that come with this type of production. He did a fantastic job, P-E-R-I-O-D-T.

Oprah Interview.

Oprah recently had the cast members of “When they see Us” and the Central Park Five. As well she had the victims of the injustice. This interview was powerful and deserved a listen. Below is a clip from the conversation. Kudos to Oprah for bringing much-needed attention to this injustice.

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Reform Equity and Justice

Open Letter to Senator Sanders Re: Charter Schools

Open Letter to Senator Sanders.

Dear Senator Sanders,

I get it. You are behind in the polls, and things are seemingly impossible. Senator Sanders, the magic in the bottle that you once had has escaped the bottle. Therefore, in desperation, you have to go out on edge to separate yourself from the other Democratic Candidates for the 2020 election.

I’d rather see you buck the system, and support school choice for the poor and disenfranchised.

In the 2016 Election cycle, you struggled to make headway with African-American voters. This may have been one of the main reasons that you aren’t currently sitting in the Whitehouse as president. Instead of correcting the mistakes made by your campaign in 2016, and your desire to be a provocateur, you are again isolating yourself from the votes you need to become electable.

Senator Sanders is Out of Touch.

Black Folks didn’t vote for you in 2016 because they thought you were out of touch, or for that matter never in touch with the Black Community. It was alleged that you frequently avoided Black folks in your home state of Vermont. Nothing says out of touch more than your recent suggestion to place a moratorium on charter schools.

Your new policy should have focused on putting an end to bad schools. Those are the schools that perpetuate death gaps that exist in our country. Students are graduating High School reading below an 8th-grade reading level. Rather than oppose the choice of Black and LatinX parents, you should be standing up for these families.  America, at least for the rich, is about choice.  You have some nerve proposing a measure that would take away opportunities from the poor and disenfranchised.  This policy shows just how out of touch you are with communities of color.  Maybe you should run for president of the NAACP?  You all seem very aligned, but yet very out of touch with the pulse of the poor and disenfranchised.

Politics Aside Senator Sanders.

Senator Sanders, I am familiar enough with your story to know a leopard doesn’t change his spots. I take you for your word when you talk about limiting educational options for people of color. It’s okay to be pro-union. I know a lot of this effort behind the assault on school choice is spearheaded by politicians that want the historical blue union vote. Alas, you may receive and be endorsed by the Teacher’s unions. But, I task the Black Community to show you in consecutive elections that your inability to be in touch with our needs will haunt you dearly at the polls.

Is Bernie Bought?

Bernie Sanders talk so much about not being influenced by Wall Street and holding others accountable. It is time that we remind you as an elected official, you don’t choose what’s best for us, we determine what’s best for us. On the last day of National Charter School week, and hours after the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board, you have the nerve to come out with this atrocious policy? It’s cowardice and reflective of the fact that maybe Senator Sanders, you been compromised.

Concluding thought on Bernie’s Vibes.

The black community is very fickle towards folks telling us what to do. Senator Sanders, in my mind, two hot-button topics exist in the United States right now. 1) Infringing on the rights of women. I’m a man, so the last thing in the world that I’m going to do is tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. 2) School choice. The last thing that I’m going to do is tell a historically disenfranchised sector of my base when and where they should send their children to school. To do either is political suicide. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to go to the polls to let you know how we feel about your charter school moratorium.

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Civil Rights Education Reform

Open Letter to Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig

Why the School Choice Hate?

Dear Dr. Vasquez Heilig, I hope this open letter finds you at your best. I thought about the many different ways to convey this message, and I finally settled on writing you an open letter. I know you’re busy these days, eradicating the privatization of public education, as well as keeping the pressure on charter schools.  Please don’t let me get in the way of your outstanding work, but I do want to understand more about your malcontent for school choice.

Moreover, I have been following your work as the California NAACP chair. Your ideas about school choice have been the catalyst for some strict legislation coming out of California.

All of this legislation seems to be anti-charter and dare I say, Anti-Black people.

I say Anti-Black folks because for years we’ve sat and watched a public school system not built for us continue to trap us (us meaning Black parents). People that have faced historical disenfranchisement should have a choice as to where they send their kids to school. To say anything besides that is admitting that you don’t have your fingers on the pulse when it comes to what is best for our students.

Three Local Branches Disavow.

Recently, three branches of the local NAACP in California have expressed their desire to contest your stance outwardly. Do you think this is a coincidence? Were these branches brought of by privatizers? I’m asking all of the questions that will be asked by a pro-traditional public school conspiracy theorists.

To be clear, I have no beef with people that choose to send their kids to traditional public schools, magnet schools, religious schools, private schools, etc. I believe that it is ultimately the choice of the parents to decide where their child attends school. No one else can make that choice for parents.

I don’t want to judge your stance without 100% understanding why you’ve taken such a position. Is there research beyond your thoughts on private money in charter schools? I want to make sure that I’m not missing anything. I’m coming from a peaceful place in my open letter. Generally, I want to understand how anyone could think that taking choice away from parents could be a win for parents.

Opinions are My Own.

Finally, I’m not a paid blogger. All of my thinking is original thoughts. I think it’s essential to be transparent when you seek understanding from someone. No one is trying to change your mind about charter schools. Your beliefs are your own. I want clarity on why you think your opinion on what’s best for Black folks is the only way.  I’m sure if we talk we’ll be able to find some common ground.

Maybe you’ve run schools. If so, I’d love to visit those schools and learn about best practices that work for Black and Latinx students.

I’m hoping that there is more to you than just theory. I’m looking for the substance. I know it exists, and even if I have to search hard to find it, I’m willing to do so.

Let’s Chop it Up.

Again, I hope this open letter finds you at your best. I’m willing to fly to wherever you are to sit in a room so that we can learn from each other. I’m extending an open invitation for you to visit my charter school in NY the next time that you are here. I am requesting that you join an episode of our podcast the 8 Black hands. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get us to a point to where you can start advancing public educational opportunities for Black and Latinx students instead of playing “Thanos” in regards to school choice options for California parents. Whatever it takes!

Categories
Black Culture Civil Rights Dear White People Equity and Justice

Dear White People

Dear White People,

Sometimes I am compelled to reach out to the rational side of white people. In doing so, I am either fooled or pleasantly surprised. Hopefully, today ends up with me being surprised.  It is my hope that this creates healthy dialogue for change.  Change begins with you deleting the word Nigger and any derivative of the word from your vocabularies.

Background.

I went to school and played pee-wee football in a very diverse town, Covington, La. The city, like most towns in the South, is separated by train tracks. On one side of the tracks, you can see extreme poverty. While on the other side of the tracks, you can see an affluent, thriving, up and coming city. Some may argue that these types of barriers no longer exist in the town. For those that make that argument, I ask that you speak with the people on the poverty side before making any final decisions on your thoughts.

Late Night/Early Morning Trolling.

As I often do, given my busy days and sometimes restless nights, I found myself catching up on the lives of folks via their Facebook posts. Sometimes my inspiration comes from people from my hometown stepping up to the plate and accepting their responsibility as parents and citizens.

Currently, its college season, so all of the high school kids are disclosing where they will be attending school in the fall. For me, that’s an exciting time, I know its “Lame,” but it’s the little things.

To My Surprise.

I ran up on a post by someone I played pee-wee football with when we were younger. A cool white dude that can relate to the “struggle.” Meaning, he’s a very involved dad according to his pictures on facebook, and when we have politically inspired conversations, he’s usually the referee between the far left and the far right. I’d always admired him for that. So when I did my “Facebook friend purge” he remained as he’s never exhibited signs of being a racist person.

The Heartbreak.

 

Well, heartbreak might be an oversell, you get my point. It happened after seeing my friend repost a Meme, and it had the N-word in it. I was stuck for a good five to ten minutes. I couldn’t believe my former teammate would post something as racially insensitive as he did. Initially, I was pretty burned which is why I took to my blog. But, in doing so, I thought it best to use this instance as a teachable moment for other white people that insist on using the word “Nigger” casually like they have ownership over the word.

The Reality.

White people should never use the word Nigger, Nigga, Niggaz, or any derivative of the word. Black folks shouldn’t use the word either. You’ve heard the term of endearment argument. We have also listened to the Nigga/Nigger argument. Any case for the usage of the word is moot at this point. It’s a painful memory of what your ancestors did to ours. Not to mention, America is not morally sound or just for Black and Latinx folks at current. Racists systems and strategies still permeate our society.

Concluding thoughts.

While I don’t wish to isolate my former teammate for his actions, I do want to remind white people of how wrong and hurtful this word is to black folks. We continue to see tone-deaf behavior from kids wearing blackface and all sorts of things that are racist I ask that you have tough conversations with each other. This is where the change begins. I can write all day about how offensive it is for you to use the N-word, and mimic our culture with caricatures, etc., but at the end of the day, if you don’t see it as wrong, it becomes a perpetual cycle.

Categories
African American History Black Culture Civil Rights Education Equity and Justice Parenting

Black Folks Y’all Are on Your Own!

Origination of Black Folks Y’all Are on Your Own!

I can’t take total credit for this. The title of this blog post was actually an underlying theme of the 8blackhands podcast. Dr. Cole, our esteemed “podmate” has been saying this for a while. It seems as though with everything that we discuss in education, Black Folks Y’all are on your own!

What this means is, people will do their damnedest to point out to you that a problem exists in education, but little to no effort will go into providing you with solutions on how to navigate through the nuances of the said problem.

The More Things Change.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. If I were to ask an old-timer, do you think that things have changed from the Civil Rights Movement? I guess that 8/10 would say yes.

The tenor in the country is lighter, there are fewer forms of public violence against minorities, but are we looking at things from the correct lens?

Let’s Analyze the picture to the left of the screen. I’d like to pay particular attention to the Black Incarceration data set. We all can concede that Black and Latinx folks are overly criminalized in American society.

There are at least two Democratic nominees for President that are vying for the presidency based on criminal justice reform. They identified the problem, “Black Incarceration,” and they created a platform to change it, “criminal justice reform.” It seems simple enough. But I definitely won’t hold my breath for the outcome.

When will Educating Black Kids Change?

Another problem that we have identified is Black and Latinx students are failing in K-12 education in the United States. It’s actually quite awful how much they have fallen behind their counterparts.

Meanwhile, racism and prejudice continue to permeate the discourse in determining why? In the NYC debate over how to better integrate its specialized high schools, Asian parents have established a campaign in which they are saying “Black and Latinx parents don’t care about their child’s education.” When asked to provide proof of such, and I was advised to go to any NYC library.

I was then told that in the library you’d find Asian kids studying, but you wouldn’t find black kids doing the same. Therefore it was equated that “Blacks and Latinx folks don’t care about their children’s education.

Navigating Through the Nuance.

We’ve established that Black Folks are on their own in K-12 education. Rather than walk you through the solutions of how to navigate through the nuance, I’ve decided to make this blog interactive.

If you have ideas as to how to solve the educational woes from Black and Brown folks, we want to hear your solutions. You can reach out to us @8Blackhands1 on twitter. Tonight’s episode, we will talk in debt with Dr. Cole about: Black Folks Y’all are on your own! So stay tuned.