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#SolidarityIsForBlackWomenToo

Ankh

*I write this in response to a creeping Kola Boofs Twitter timeline and seeing a back-and-forth between she and Rosanne*

The women reading this Blog are gainfully employed, running functioning households, controlling successful businesses, busy being beautiful, whatever; So, I’ll TRY to keep this short and sweet 😉

Tommy Sotomayor IS sending a message which although particularly controversial, is one that some people feel is a motivating force within the Black Community. Many people understand the use of his platform to simply be a self-reflective mirror showing that we ought to be holding ourselves to higher standards of morality and ethics; A necessary evil of sorts.
Others at the polar opposite of the spectrum instead believe that he is a contagion; A deadly strain of ideological virus compiled of hatred and contempt toward Black Women in general and that he is set on propagating the lie that we are on a path of self-destruction. That we are ugly, matriarchal failures. Genocidal maniacs.

I’ve watched my fair share of TS YouTube clips and am familiar with the jargon of “Beasties”, “Snow Queens”, “Mixed Nuts” and “Hair Hatted Hooligans”. I’ve also become fluent to the language of “Simps” and “Madden Kings” and so, I well understand the “message of his media” and where both sides have formed their opinions from. Tommy Sotomayor openly and scathingly critiques Black Women and Black Men however, like him or hate him; His types have become an important enigma in the world of North American internet savvy Black People. Tommy Sotomayor and the like are speaking about us and therefore they are speaking to us. But ultimately, it is our prerogative to acknowledge, discuss, ignore or silence their condescension. That us being Black People however; These messages are far reaching and unfortunately not only falling into our ears, so instead of hitting home only within the realm of our particular communities, it’s breaching cultural “boundaries”.
I believe that the judgment that some white people are allowing themselves to openly express toward Black Women is a side-effect after also being exposed to TS type messages; Collateral damage so to speak. (As if having the loaded finger of detriment pointed at us isn’t enough.) You want to judge us? Fine, it’s your right but, I suggest you sit quietly by and in blood curdling suffocating silence.
Stop assuming that the world needs you to speak for it because you can’t and yes, you assume the implication right; It is simply because you are white and inexperienced with what it means to be considered “other”. As much as it’s your right to direct your misinformed judgement toward us, we’ve every right to call you out on it and demand that you miss us with your foolishness. When we catch you in blatant acts of prejudice and discrimination, it’s not a reflection of our inherent “angry”ness to reject your violation, it’s simple self preservation of which we are also entitled to. It forces to mistrust you and therefore sometimes refrain from truly connecting with you. I digress…

Though, I don’t presume to speak for all Black Women, I think it’s safe to illuminate the sacred sorority that does exist between us.
We are all our mothers daughters but we are her first born and therefore delightfully special and beautifully unique. I choose not to pretend to understand a hierarchy where you feel you deserve to be placed above us, undermining our right to exist within the norms, mores, taboos and boundaries of our own cultures. Undermine our own agency to navigate the complexities of our relationships. Undermine the acceptance, indifference or the critiques of our own men. Men who may not love us but of who we are by nature innately designed and bound to love in spite of ourselves. (A WHOLE other essay entirely…)
Understand that we do not consider you to be beneath us; For our Mothers taught us to be especially respectful of other Women but, if you continue to chose to NOT be beside us within our framework of true and inclusive sorority which protects the integrity of Women as a whole and does not cheapen the right to exist of certain individuals, then inevitably, you will subjugate yourselves invariably.
Contrary to your popular opinion, we do not need you in order to be relevant. We are not in juxtaposition with you. We do not worship you. We can and do reject your assumption of dominion over us.
White supremacist Euro-Judeo-Anglo Saxon superiority is an utter fallacy and if you refuse to see us as equals, as fellow She-People; We will refuse to see you at all. We have each other, the majority of us do not take it for granted. Intersectionality is simply a theory, a theory that can be bitterly rejected.

P.S. Some of You will deconstruct this and claim that I am defending Ts; Resoundingly, NO I am not. I’m saying that we are mindful enough to deal with the fallout of his ideologies on our own and are also intelligent enough to see through a White persons “co-sign” on his perception of us. We see that your support of people like that is simply you giving your-less-than-perfect-self permission to stereotype and paint all Black Women with the broad stroke of ratchetness without a) Knowing more than maybe two Black Women and likely not that intimately and b) Understanding ANY thing about us. So, unless you’re defending the right of all Women to exist, be silent.
Black Women can support and hold each other up magnificently therefore, where there are changes and areas for growth within our circles, we can help to positively influence each other and we do. We have each other to help Mother and Sister each other to self-improvement, striving to becoming better individuals so that we can be better Daughters, Sisters, Mothers, Wives, Lovers and Friends. Solidarity is nothing short of love.
TS is welcome to his opinion, but as we all know by now, opinions are like assh*les; Everyone has one and some are shi*tty 😉

The moral of the story is; Always think twice before You openly climb aboard some bandwagon full of bull sh*t because we can see through misogynistic f*ckey just as well as the next Lass.

Light Reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~R

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12 Years A Slave: An essay, a review.

12 Years

I purposely waited until saw McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave twice before writing an essay in dedication to the thought this film is responsible for provoking. I wanted to ensure that I hadn’t been beguiled by the beauty of the Louisiana setting, the intriguing melancholic score or the creative nuances that make this film easily one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve ever had.

Having said all of that, anyone who’s seen the film will agree or flounder trying to argue that the transfer of Northup’s horrifying experiences within the physical and spiritual confines of slavery from print to film wasn’t an industry clinic in screenplay and film adaptation.

But enough movie love, now for a healthy dose of relativity. As much as I love this film, I loved the fact that it was even made more. This story needed to be told on film. In all my years of thinking I was well versed in what slavery was, I never seriously extended my curiosity toward the exploration of the inhumane reality that “free” Black people were sold into slavery right on North American soil. To further illustrate; Often when we think in terms of slavery, we tend to romanticize that Black People were only kidnapped, stolen and whisked away from the shores of Africa. I was ignorant in not considering how often “free” Black People were kidnapped, stolen and whisked away from the shores of the Atlantic, renamed and sold into slavery right here in North America.

In a way that Roots, Amistad, Beloved, The Color Purple, Glory, Imitation Of Life, A Raisin In The Sun, Queen and other film depictions of Black People surviving in a disordered world at the end of the white man’s whip and under the white man’s arbitrary control, 12 Years A Slave surpasses it’s cinematographic peers. I liken it to The Passion Of The Christ in the sense that, although we have the biblical and apostolic recount of Jesus’ tortured last days on Earth; Until Mel Gibson unabashedly displayed his torture on film, for me, it was merely a story.
Slavery is not a story. It is a poignant, relevant and historical reality as was the violence, torture and degradation. As is the social psychopathy that has thus evolved because of it. For me, this movie epitomizes living in “niggery” and is a point blank example of why I believe that no Black Person should use or condone the use of the *N* word and especially by other Black People. There is an abomination of power within that word and it is loaded with venom that has been used to dehumanize us from the dawn of the North Atlantic slave trade up to this very second in time.

Like many of you, I can recall the annual Roots marathon during Black history month and being expected to re-watch it year after year. My parents knew that it was important for me to see the human travesty that was slavery and that reading about it simply wasn’t enough. This is also why I insisted my teens watch this film. It wasn’t just that I wanted them to see a contemporary take on our history as North American Black People, I need them to understand that if there was ever a time to be a Black Person living in North America, it’s now. There is simply no excuse for average or sub par effort when they do not face the constraints our ancestors had to and who did not give up and accept the status quo and merely exist; They endured in the hope that one day their generations would live.
I remember my father being angered by the scenes in Roots and his explosions of emotion when he felt the anguish and helplessness of Kunta Kinte. Even into his mid 70’s, Daddy claims he’d rather have died trying to free himself of bondage by inflicting violence on anyone in his path rather than accept life as a slave. I’ve seen this movie in theaters twice now and both times, I kept wishing for Django to ride up and kill every oppressor in his path.

As a demonstrative period piece, this story allows for no heroes and makes no false pretenses about who people were in relation to the social hierarchy in this time. The white women in this film felt no disregard toward owning, degrading and brutalizing people and even encouraged it while, rare white people, who were intrinsically abhorred by slavery still referred to Black People as “niggers”. A reminder that language is ultra powerful when objectifying humans. I walked away feeling like the majority of white people in this time were absolutely terrifying because they were absolutely crazy.
The violence inflicted on human beings at the hands of other human beings is unfathomable and yet, I understand that in order for slavery to have been sustained, immeasurable violence, abuse, neglect and brainwash had to exist and the people carrying out this violence had obvious mental issues, although lucid enough to utilize the bible as a tool of obedience to assert power over others; It takes a disconnected and sick individual to not see a fellow human as a fellow human and deduce that they worth only the value that they serve as commodities.

In terms of history and violence as it relates to enslaving and violating human beings, we often neglect to validate herstory. Without giving any of the story away, Patsy is absolute misery personified. Patsy reminds us that Black Women existed for three reasons: To labor, bear commodities and satisfy the lust and desires of their controllers. The list of desires is open ended. Patsy is the reason I will never classify myself as a feminist for I believe the disdain, superiority, ignorance, insecurity and hatred portrayed by the white women in this film was an accurate depiction. It was was alive and kicking during the suffragette movement and the contemporary feminist movement is rife with discord now. I’m a womanist and my heart aches for Patsy who couldn’t be protected by men who had also been dehumanized and made powerless to protect themselves let alone others by the very same men who victimized her. There are no heroes in this movie. The actions of every character are motivated simply by social status, lack of choice and survival. At times, the imagery in 12 Years A Slave depicting this powerlessness is enough to make you vomit.

Overall, I think this movie is an important film and that it is a “must see” for a variety of reasons. As a period piece, Spielberg’s award winning Lincoln, which I actually found quite boring, pales in comparison. Canada’s own Lawrence Hill’s, The Book Of Negroes is being adapted to film and is set to release in 2014. Now this is a story I can’t wait to see on screen. Although the story is fictitious, it’s set to the degrading reality which is our history rooted in slavery and I am excited to see the heroine Aminata come to life and leap from the page. To watch Her evolve from a curious and sheltered child stolen African child to an intelligent, brave and industrious grown African Woman living within and beyond slavery in North America will be worthwhile.

Isn’t that what we’re all really doing anyway; Trying to live beyond slavery? There is no “post racial” era and Jim Crow hasn’t up and died. North America is still very much polarized in terms Black and White and, structural, intentional and institutionalized racism is typical. Are we really so far removed from the plight of our grandparents? Are we really so far removed from Solomon who probably never thought that as a “free” Black Man living in the North, he’d be sold into slavery; Like the Black Man whose rights and freedoms are infringed upon with racial profiling or, locked up for driving while Black with no access to decent legal representation? The Black Men and Women who’re handcuffed, arrested and humiliated for innocently shopping at Macy’s. Both the book and film are the recount of a fascinating and thought provoking experience but, now that we’re thinking and talking about it, what are we to do with the insight?

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Guess who’s coming to dinner with a poisoned helping of racial discrimination? Part II

Stop Eating Here

UPDATE & OUTCOME

So, a few weeks back I posted about our infamous incident at the Lone Star Texas Grill in Etobicoke. Now that the ordeal has concluded, it’s only fair that I tell the story to its completion.

The Lone Star Texas Grill has put a policy in place for mandatory annual S.H.A.R.P. training of all their employees which is a major step in the right direction. Understanding diversity and it’s multitudes of complexities is the first step in developing a natural sensitivity toward governing our actions in terms of how we treat other people.
They have made it very clear that they will help to support in any way they can BlackLit101 community education support initiative. I have been put into connection with management at the location closest to my community. Although I’m not yet sure how we could benefit from this, I know there is potential somewhere! The company has also expressed a real interest in helping us with our book drive which is also greatly appreciated.
Although I did not receive a personal apology from the individual who was directly involved in this incident, I no longer feel like I need one. I’m not sure that I would have fully accepted it anyway. The people that I subsequently dealt with expressed genuine concern with what happened and that simple display of humanity alone is enough for me. He still remains nameless; Like a fallen soldier, gone but never forgotten…
I was also given a $100 gift certificate which I will be using. Hey, don’t judge me! Prior to this happening, I loved eating at The Lone Star! The margaritas and fajitas are awesome and although I probably won’t ever return to the location this happened at but, I will be using it in my own community. My friend and our daughters will have a date night out and put this behind us. I’ll be leaving my baby boy at home that night, just to stay on the safe side. Just kidding! I don’t really feel the need to and the powers that be have reassured me that what happened to us will never happen again to anyone else under any circumstances.

Unfortunately, bad things happen every day. Racism is alive and well and even in 2013, many people still believe that Black people are inferior. It’s  how we act upon it that truly matters and cooler heads usually prevail. Resolution never lies in retaliation but will only ever be found in the display of intolerance for intolerance.

I want to credit the GM, Dave Cunningham and the Director Of Operations Rob Martin with dealing with me in a prompt, concerned and committed way. They took the incident seriously and although they couldn’t undo what had happened to us, they have made every effort to make us feel heard, understood and validated. I appreciate that and I commend them on their efforts to turn this unfortunate incident into one of moral growth, public progression and social evolution. Their swift and sincere reaction to this was an honorable display of leadership.

The world isn’t perfect but, it’s when we can we can learn from and turn an unfortunate event into a learning experience and kill the potential for repeat offences that we see change actually happen. We must always remember to be the change we want to see in the world. In the end, although we were initially treated unfairly, collectively we stood up against it and we all live to fight another day.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

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Some things that I have un-learned…

images
On my mission to re-educate myself and help to re-educate others, I think it’s time I share some of the theoretical myths which have been “debunked” and busted for me personally at least.
Throughout the generations, us Black people sure have been spoon-fed a lot of bullsh*t.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that the major reason we’ve been unsuccessful in collaborating as a People is due to the fact that our collective language, spiritual beliefs,cultural norms and mores were stripped from us in our initial committal into bondage. However, we know that people were kidnapped from various parts of the many countries in Africa therefore, the languages, spiritual beliefs, cultural norms and mores were never really a cohesive set of similarities among our people to begin with. We know for certain that the many ethnic groups within Africa have a multitude of differences which naturally set them apart.

Fast-forward to slavery. We were forced to cease communicating in our various native tongues and understand and communicate mostly in the English language. My point? Once English becomes the language standard, Black people living in North America now have a collective language bond. Furthermore, we also know that our ancestors were acute enough to create sub-languages or “jargon” to communicate amongst themselves to protect their vulnerabilities. Of course regional dialect was a natural bi-product of this evolution of words and depending on where you were from, colloquialism became another informal language bond for Black people and still is.
I’m from North Preston, Nova Scotia, unless I want you to know what I am saying, you won’t. We have our own unique expressions, terminology, slang and even definitions.
Although indigenous North American Black people have been brainwashed into believing that having no shared language is what separates us as a People, we do in fact share a language; and thanks to the Brits, it’s English. Myth, busted.

In terms of spiritual beliefs, I can’t even begin to explain the numerous taboos, deities, Gods, Spirits, rituals etc. More have likely been lost over time than there is my capacity for ever learning even a fraction of them. Understanding Africa from an anthropological point of view is amazingly vast. But, I do know one thing is certain; That Christianity was never the natural “religion” of the Africans brought captive to North America. If anything, as far as “organized” religions go, we know that Judaism and Islamism had spread throughout Africa prior to the 1500’s when the African “religious” systems were first introduced to the Americas because of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Once again, as the Bible and other relics of Christianity were imposed upon the Africans, they were eventually accepted and practiced, there is then created another tie that binds; Christianity.
Whether Protestant, Catholic or Lutheran, Christianity becomes a common denominator and the unity of Black people is solidified through Christian spirituality. Perhaps even more so than before because now, we have no choice. No matter the cultural background, Christianity becomes the standard practice and therefore we’re all united in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’ve spent some time in Southern Africa and culturally speaking and of course, depending on where you are, be it South Africa, Zimbabwe or Zambia, there is a multitude of cultural differentials. Many Egyptians don’t even consider themselves Africans and especially not Black people! Tell most Somalians, Ethiopians and Eritreans that they are Black and your’re in for a very interesting conversation. Cultural diversity is a complex and beautiful thing and is not unique to Black people so again, the brainwash used to make this “issue” a cause for dissident is deceitful and detrimental to our race.

Think about what I’m saying here and examine all that you been lead to believe as a Black person. Think about the rhetoric you’ve heard countless times during Black history month. Think about the many times you’ve heard, “Well, the Africans sold their own people into slavery you know.” It’s contextual, it’s relative, it’s bullsh*t.
Every day in the news we see examples of how the West imposes their beliefs and attitudes internationally, deeming what is “wrong” and what is socially acceptable and what is within the scope of “human rights”. Really? After knowing what our own history has extended to Black people in North America, who’s zoomin’ who? We know that the “powers that be” value industry, corporate instinct over human dignity and ultimately the all-mighty dollar.

What is true is that we know Black people were forced to learn and communicate in a language that wasn’t our own. We know that at a point in the not so distant past, Black people were arbitrarily expected to assimilate as a labor force and collaborate, cooperate and work together. We know that we were given Christianity to save us from our savagery. We know that no matter which part of Africa our descendants were stolen from, they were in fact stolen and dehumanized for capitol gain. We know that collectively, us North American Black folk all have this in common.
So this platform of well orchestrated propaganda used to “explain”, justify and retain our social antagonism from each other is a fallacy.

We were taught these things to keep us from coming together in numbers. We were given this mis-information to keep us separated, dived and disjointed. We have been mis-educated on purpose.
Being realistic about our commonalities and celebrating them is a major step in realizing our full potential as a connected Black community.

I know I am simplifying things, but, I believe it’s what we share as a People that holds the key to uniting us as a People; We just have to learn to think right and that means un-learning a whole lot of bad information and re-educating ourselves and being fully in the know.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite
~Rachelle

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Vocabulary 101

Success

Yesterday a fellow parent and I had an intriguing discussion on the issue of respect. It got me thinking about how important it is for our children to fully comprehend words and their value as necessary tools for efficient communication. Most adults understand the power that words hold but, are we truly transferring that knowledge onto our children? I often hear the teenagers, who manage to takeover our house on most days, talk about respect; who they do and don’t respect, and about being disrespected. It occurred to me that children often hear and use words most of which, they don’t understand the definition.

Consider this possibility; That we lack basic knowledge in terms of the language we use to describe ourselves and the ways in which we view world around us. Because of this, our perception and worldly views can be easily shifted askew which impacts our interactions and ultimately our experiences.
For instance, the word respect is defined as a feeling of deep admiration and also as expressing admiration therefore; the word respect is both a noun and a verb at the same time. Respect is both that which it is and it is that which we do. If our children do not understand the basic premise for the term respect, how can we then expect them to display it, practice and regulate their behaviors according to it?

Arming our children with an extensive vocabulary is one of the best things that we can do to proactively equip them with the knowledge they will need to be successful in life. Remember knowledge doesn’t only mean power, it also equals confidence. When a child possesses the vocabulary needed to accurately express their thoughts and feelings, it becomes natural to feel better about themselves and their place in the world. What are the words for that? To name a few: self-esteem, self-awareness, self-image and integrity. Integrity happens to be my very favorite among all of the words and I use it often with my students for literacy and self-awareness exercises.

There are many ways that we can help enhance our children’s expressive lexicon. Encouraging reading not only enhances a child’s literacy skills, it is nourishment for a learner’s vocabulary. “Can you even spell that and what does it mean?” is a running line in my house and the kids are often eager to show and prove that they can and do. In fact there are countless “teaching moments” to impart vocabulary lessons into your child’s routine and it’s really easy to make it silly and fun and educational all at the same time. You see, educate is a verb too and it’s inevitably what we do that helps to shape the future for our generations.

Thanks ever so much to my grade eleven Black literature teacher for instilling this powerful quality within me. Ms. Tynes, you really were a gem. I’m big on vocabulary, in fact, when I swear my mother is known to remind me of how much money was spent on my “first rate” vocabulary and that “cursing” only wastes it. I’m a scrabble-literati-words-with-friends-crossword playing word nerd. Needless to say, I can hold my own in the realms of oral and written communication and that dear reader is why sometimes, the pen really can be mightier than the sword.
What’s your favorite word?

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

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The *N* Word And The Paula Deen Distraction.

Jemima
I’m writing this article in response to the Paula Deen n*gger incident. First of all, let me start by saying that I am not the least bit surprised that a sixty-something year old Southern white woman is admitting to using the word n*gger. I’d be more surprised if she claimed that she’d never used the word in her life. I’d be even more surprised if this was never brought to light at some point in her career and I’d be extra surprised if it wasn’t causing a boisterous buzz within the Black community.

Yet, I simply don’t understand the public outrage in response to this incident when we are facing real issues and are at near calamity level in terms of useful education, viable employment, economic conditions and visibility within the political machine. At least in Canada this is the reality. I’m perplexed at the amount of people who are willing to raise their voices in protest to the bigotry coming from a food network employee yet can’t get their mouths open when it happens systematically within our classrooms, boardrooms and in our very own communities.
Now, this is not a pass and I’m not inferring that she should get away with what she did because our expectations of her should have been lower in the first place. What I am saying is that we must tire of these distractions and focus on the things which will inevitably propel us forward. Yes, I do believe this is a distraction. If this woman and her family are the biggest bigots in America; So. That’s their prerogative. As long as she isn’t cooking up and serving Black folks with some cheese grits and steamed collard greens, I couldn’t care less. She’s a branded millionaire. She can retire into obscurity and disappear from the public eye forever and my heart will never miss a beat. It effects me in no way and it effects you in no way either however; what it does do is spark useful dialogue to enhance the pixels of the bigger picture.

Get this angry when you spot structural racism within your respective cities, suburbs and communities. Cry foul when your local school district is still teaching Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” when Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is just as beautiful a love story and with just as challenging language vernacular to boot. Cry foul when your local business solicit our patronage yet they have nobody which looks like us working within their establishments. Which is why I prefer to support Black business but as usual, I digress.
You want to see change? Stop your own Black children and your friends from using this word. Stop giving our own people a pass! Black people have fought and struggled for freedom and to be physically free from bondage yet mentally enslaved with the verbal remnants of degradation is pathetic. I hate the word n*gger. I grew up in a black community where it wasn’t just taboo, it was unfathomable to utter such filth.
How degrading and I truly believe that when Black people say it, they are out of touch with their pride, identity and personal integrity. Further proof that re-education ought to be at the top our our collective priority list.

All in all, I’m upset that I can no longer cook along with Ms. Deen because I can’t in good conscious support an admitted bigot and I hear they fired her anyway. But, one monkey don’t stop the show and I refuse to allow this distraction to get in between me and my good priorities and those are to do my part in shaping a positive future for myself and the loves of my life; My People.

Oh and one more thing, the media is calling for her to donate millions to the NAACP and other “ethnic” institutions in retribution for her actions. I say BS; If money is accepted from the same hand that was only yesterday trying to dress Black folks up like a scene out of “The Help”, then we should stay on mute an sit idly by while the Paula Deens and the Ms. Hilly’s of the world say it like they mean it while we eat their sh*t.

Always remember, Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

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Thoughts On Re-Educating Our Children.

re-education

For the last few weeks my articles have focused on the mis-education of our children so today, I’m going to postulate my antithesis.
I want to talk about my platform of re-education and the benefits that I believe will help re-define our social conditioning, strengthen our communities and broaden our cultural perception as Black Canadians.
When I talk about re-education, I’m speaking in terms of the following.

1) Academically:
Through exposure to Black literature and the teachings of Black professionals, scholars , authors, experts, social commentary etc., we can better guide our children along the pathways for learning with examples of scholarship from those who came blazing the trail before them. We can then introduce a multitude of career options that may not be offered or advertised within the traditional education model. For example, agricultural science; we elders ought to educate and encourage our children about land ownership, commercial farming, nutritional, environmental and dietary sciences. These are career paths which are not typically encouraged and but, why not when most of us came from agrarian and agricultural societies?

2) Economic & Financial Sciences:
“The definition of education for Black students is the; The art of teaching our children to acquire, protect and maintain power.” (Dr. U. Johnson) This is where we need to focus on the shift from working for to owning and operating their own successful business ventures. We must encourage entrepreneurship and calculated risk taking in terms of building viable Black owned business and not simply training them to be employees. We must encourage our children to support Black owned businesses, enterprises and social services so that we can begin to acquire financial and therefore political power within and over our communities. Remember, children grow up and being fully functioning, productive, pro-active and capable citizens is their right and the essence of truly being free.

3) Understanding Political Science and The Law:
There simply isn’t enough representation for Black people BY black people in Canadian politics. Other ethnic groups seemed to have realized the importance of political visibility but, even with the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency, this is slow to become a priority within Canadian society.
We must start seriously learning about the laws that govern this land if we are to ever slow the rate of our youth falling off the beaten track and landing in jail cells. Our children need to learn about the correlation between poverty, crime and punishment so they can practice critical and logical thinking about their choices and ultimately their futures.

4) Social Sciences:
Unifying, appreciating and protecting the family unit. Understanding acceptable social etiquette, manners, behavior and teaching our children to practice a standard of conduct which dispels negative stereotypes about our youth and Black people in general and also discourages racial discrimination. Learning to be good denizens of our communities, the environment and socially responsible people is the foundation for their personal integrity and cultural pride. We need to build and encourage solidarity.

I believe that a focus on re-education in these four areas but not limited to these four areas is a great way to forward a healthy and bright future for Black Canadians.
I believe that “Black History Month” and it’s inadequacies should be done away with and instead, principles and foundations for permanent Black Cultural Education instilled at every step of the education and learning process. The Blacklit101 workshops that I am designing for the fall 2013 will be a step in the right direction for our children.

It takes a village to raise a child so if you can contribute to this educational venture in any way, please reach out to me! Any input, assistance, time and insight is welcomed and truly appreciated.
One day, our children will likely be better parents than we are because of it.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

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Spoiling is essentially RUINING your children.

spoiled brat

spoil

verb, spoiled or spoilt, spoil·ing, noun

verb (used with object)

1. to damage severely or harm (something), especially with reference to its excellence, value, usefulness, etc.: The water stain spoiled the painting. Drought spoiled the corn crop.

2. to diminish or impair the quality of; affect detrimentally: Bad weather spoiled their vacation.

3. to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.: to spoil a child by pampering him.

The topic for this article came about during a recent discussion with a good friend of mine. We were conversing about the resolve to not spoil our children due to the disgusting effects spoiling has on the attitude of the child and worst, how dangerous it is to instill an undeserved sense of entitlement into a child.

According to the above definition of spoiling courtesy of dictionary.com, spoil essentially means ruin. Now, I’m not telling anyone how to raise their kids, that’s on you. This is strictly a matter of opinion based on experience and personal ideology. It is your right to raise your child as you see fit and if spoiling them rotten is your thing, power to You! HOWEVER, it then becomes your responsibility to ensure that decent morals, values, principles and work-ethic  are instilled into that child to combat the negative effects of over indulgence.

In other words, recognize that in spoiling your child, you may in fact ruin them so, as parents we must find a way to create a balance that is healthy to the development of the personal integrity of that child.

In re-educating our children, perhaps it’s time to take a new approach to how we reward our children. For example, many of us grew up knowing that come June, if we passed we would get a present for “grading”. In my house, I say “HELL NO! Your present IS grading.”  The attention you paid in class, the hard work you did and the homework and projects you handed in on time resulted in you passing on to the next grade and this is your reward. Everything that you learned that propelled you to the next level in your academic achievement is your reward. This is my personal philosophy.

Look at it like this; Every day us responsible parents come home from work and prepare meals, sit through countless hours of homework and test preparation, help with last minute projects, practice for spelling tests you name it. There is no reward for this other than knowing that we’ve done our duty in supporting our children and that through our engagement and support, they stand a better chance of becoming successful in their endeavors. We’ve simply done what we are responsible for doing.  You don’t get a prize for doing what you’re supposed to do. Not in the real world where the majority of us dwell. That’s just how life is. I believe that early in life, kids need to learn this and deal with it. 

In spoiling our children, we are creating sociopathic monsters; Ignorant, name-brand-clad-shallow-tech-junkie-no manner- having little fools running around believing that everyone owes them something and never learning that hard work, dedication and commitment are the only things that will get them anywhere in life.

We know that spoiling our children is detrimental in various ways and encourages negative behavior, immaturity and dependence. But, when we spoil our children with reward systems for doing things that they should already be doing for themselves, i.e. household chores, homework, good test results, grades and such, we undermine the natural course of developing positive self-esteem, confidence, independence and responsibility through following a task through to completion simply because that is what is required. This is how our children learn the coping skills necessary for success in society.

Begin teaching your children that through diligence and assiduity; they can dominate any industry in the global market and be as successful as the icons they idolize.

Spoil them with modelling positive behaviors, encouragement, inspiration, enthusiasm, and most importantly, leadership. Guide them along the pathway to achieving their dreams.

If after reading this you’re not on-board to quit ruining your child, that’s fine though, at least consider the “rewards, treats, presents and tokens of appreciation” you give. Instead of material things, instead invest in science, math and writing tutors so when it’s time for graduation they’ll have done well enough in school to access more scholarship money. You’ll save a fortune in the long run! Invest in music lessons and sports to help build their confidence and shape their attributes and strong points. Spoil them with listening to their plans and believing in their goals. Spoil them by enriching their exposure to the arts and to life in general so that they become well-rounded whole individuals.        This is ultimately what our children deserve, they are entitled to this.

Think about why you are spoiling your children. Is it to make up for something? To shut them up? To make yourself feel better? To keep up with the Jones’? Whatever your excuse is, fix it. Do something about it before it’s too late and your monster turns on you and everybody else in society and we fight back. Think of the consequences a negative and foul attitude brings.  Remember the lazy person you can’t stand at work and the other takers you know in your lives. Do you want someone to paint your offspring with that brush? You’re not doing your child any favors when you spoil them. Home disabilities can quickly turn into learning and life disabilities. You know better so do better.

Besides, we ought to love our children enough to not proactively ruin them.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle 

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I am not an angry Black woman.

Mad Black Woman

Why is it when a black woman is passionate about something that she believes in, she’s suddenly mad or angry? Difficult? Obtuse? Rude? Defensive? Scary?

I recently had a conversation with someone about obtaining space in my community for a Black Literature workshop that I’m facilitating in the fall. I was contacted and asked to explain the nature of my workshop and the W5 on what it will be about. When I very patiently, pleasantly and professionally explained what the plan of programming would be, the conversation turned dramatically.

A ‘pleasant’ conversation went from 0-99 in less than 2 minutes. All of I sudden, I could tell that no matter what my plans were, they were not welcome at least by this one gate-keeper. Without getting into the meat and potatoes of the discussion, long story short; I was reminded of why I never wanted to pursue a career in the public school machine.

First and foremost, I make no apologies for my stance on how the public school system is designed for us to fail. I am a product of the aforementioned system and therefore can attest to the systematic foolishness promoted and “taught” from within. Therefore, if I am of the opinion that our Black children can and will benefit from the support of private programs geared specifically toward them and only them and designed by the very people who from whom they are the essence; That’s my prerogative.

This little run-in with this gate-keeper has simply reinforced my mistrust of outside influence from school board officials and people who do not belong to the Black community.

Allow me to clarify, in regards to this initiative; Any and all brainstorming, discussion, collaboration, financing, strategizing, planning and actioning will be completely FUBU and that is FOR US BY US. We have allowed too many hands to stir our pots for too long and it simply hasn’t gotten us anywhere. I can write my fingers to the bone discussing the reasons why I believe that there is a need to re-segregate components of our Black children’s learning environments to restore the educational deficit that have resulted from the public school and the traditional private schools but why?

If you are a Black person or Black parent reading this, you already understand because you’ve experienced it at some point or another no matter what level of success you’ve attained. If you are not a Black person or the parent of a Black child and you are reading this, then no matter what I write, you will never be able to comprehend the chasm of ignorance that is being purposely created in the formal education system in North America.  You have likely always been taught by people who look like you and attended institutions that were designed with your future in mind. We don’t have this in common and it’s ok. It is what it is but, I’m not going to be ‘inclusive’ for fear of being politically incorrect and making someone feel left out. If you’re being left out of the conversation, it’s on purpose because the conversation simply doesn’t concern you. I’m not angry, I just happen to love, care for and feel the innate need to protect and nurture my own and I value those things much more than I fear offending anyone else’s sensibilities or their insecurities about not being included.

 It’s foolish, naïve, silly and downright stupid to EXPECT middle class people who do not look like our children to educate our children. PERIOD.

Now, after having said all of that, I am still working on securing a venue for the first workshop that is completely independent of the PDSB school board or entity which is an obvious conflict of interest. Which segues into my upcoming article:

 “WE NEED AN INDEPENDANT BLACK PARENTS ASSOCIATION IN PEEL REGION!”

I haven’t written it yet but wait for it. It’s coming soon my people. One idea, one action at a time…

I’ll keep you posted and as always,

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

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OUR Black children are dying!!

ː̗̀☀̤̣̈̇ː̖́Ƈƕíƞƙƴː̗̀☀̤̣̈̇ː̖́✗o✗o Getting Fit...

I believe that OUR Black children are dying. (Now that I have your attention, I want you to start following this blog right now… Continue.)

When God blesses us with the gift of our children, God also passes the responsibility of educating those children into our care.

But they are dying Mentally, Spiritually and Physically.

 Their minds and spirits are being systematically murdered and it is inevitably leading to the physical death of our children. When our children die, our generations are assaulted, denigrated and further subjugated. It’s as simple as that and as Black Canadian people, we should take major issue with this phenomenon. We are not helpless. We must not continue to stand so placidly by. We can do something.
As parents and as responsible community members, we must put an end to the destruction of the minds of our Black children.

The purpose of this forum is not to debate the goings on of the past nor to discuss things for which we have no control over however, putting an end to the systematic mis-education of our children, our most valuable commodities, I believe is of the utmost importance.
I do believe that it is our God-given onus to educate and thus save our children. I believe that if our children are going to stand a chance at becoming adequately prepared to hold complete free agency over their own destinies and not merely prepared to be employees and the unremarkable hired help; We must take up the torch.
First and foremost, I think that it’s time we rewrite the definition of education for Black people.
I quote Dr. Umar Johnson, “Education for Black children should be the art of teaching our children to acquire, protect and maintain power.” I concur.         We must consistently work to see the shift from working for to dominating. It’s happened across the spectrum from sport to sport and in the entertainment industry so why not in the classroom and then on to the boardroom?

Why are we allowing our children to be taught to work for XYZ company instead of arming and equipping them with the knowledge and power to create, build and control businesses that compete with XYZ company?

We need to build a new educational environment for our children. Remember those Cultural Comfort Zones I wrote about creating a few weeks back? This is what I was getting at people!!! I have long believed that education should be a function of the community and it’s members and therefore, as parents we need to be talking about taking education reform into our own capable hands and building our own schools.
When I say this, I’m speaking metaphorically, somewhat anyway. Schools, learning, teaching and ultimately EDUCATING can happen in a variety of places. But, in order to teach our children what we believe they need to be learning, it’s time we took matters into our own hands and revolutionize something that has simply never worked for us and that is putting the responsibility of our education into the hands of those who have an alternate agenda.

As a Black parent of Black children, I feel that I am qualified to hold an opinion on this crisis and I invite You dear reader to mount up and fight the good fight with me.

We simply need to stand in the gap for our children.

In my upcoming articles, I will be revealing plans for a pilot program in the fall introducing our kids to some important Black Literature standards and getting the wheels turning for some grass-roots learning right here in Brampton Ontario! I’m very excited about this private venture into Black education.
I’m interested to know what you think about these ideas and your input is welcomed, valued and appreciated.

As always, light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle                                                                                                                                    About Me

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