Tag Archives: African Canadian

#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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Eurocentric Brainwash: The Bain Of Black Existence In North America

Eurocentric Brainwash: The Bain Of Black Existence In North America.

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Eurocentric Brainwash: The Bain Of Black Existence In North America

Keep Calm

As a Canadian following the US “Shutdown of non-essential Government” or the forced furlough of government employees, It’s been a rather interesting week to say the least. This article is not to get into a political discourse but, in writing about the aforementioned topic, I feel that it is of value to highlight that the resounding message to Black people living both inside and outside of the US is this: The “free world” is controlled by people who generally hate poor and middle class people and would rather see them stressed, sick, poor and dead than give them a fair and equal fighting chance for peace of mind through extending them the most basic of human essential needs, accessible and affordable healthcare.
This ought to speak volumes to Black people living in North America because although we make up an impressive spending group as a whole, we are non-essential in the realm of organized political and economic power and control.
We are marginalized because of our race, our generalized inferior social class and because of our lack of organization and solidarity as a people. Even with a Black man presiding over the “Land of The Free”, there is no symbolic resonating of a power gain or of a growing respect toward Black people. (I’m shocked that people thought that there even would be) In fact, it’s obvious that the GOP/Tea Party/Republicans or whatever they’re called this week hate their own president more than they care for average American citizens. Common sense tells me that they must generally hate all Black people and would rather see their demise at the detriment of an entire nation rather than see a Black man advance a progressive agenda for the betterment of ALL people living in the United States. Call me dramatic, it’s how I see it. Period.

When colonizing a particular group, in order to get them to secede to “new” beliefs and practices, control must first be exerted over three very important and influential branches of society: The education system, law enforcement and lastly, religious organization. Control is extended over the institutions which ultimately warp the human mind, body and spirit. Typically, I haven’t lent much “creative attention” to the ideology of white supremacy but in order to truly engage learners and reinforce that systematic racism is indeed a living and breathing thing, we know that we cannot ignore the reality of North American society and it must be consistently addressed and worked on to dispel and unfurl. For those who don’t know, white supremacy is the ideology that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. White supremacy is the idea that if you are not white, then you are not right and white people naturally deserve to be dominant over you. It’s that simple. Do all white people fit into this ideology? Of course not but we aren’t concerned with that handful of people. Although we’ve been “physically free” for almost 200 years, through using systematic colonization tactics in North America, Black people are largely still in bondage of the most dangerous form; Mental slavery.

Currently, it is the schools that are majorly responsible for socializing, instilling values, moralizing and instructing Black learners. I believe that in handing near total control over to the education system, we are allowing for the systematic annihilation of our intellectual and therefore future potential. We are inviting people whose best interests it is to keep us ignorant, docile and complacent to have control and dominance over our minds. We are permitting our children to be systematically and purposefully prepared to be “larger” society’s worker ants.
Why do we do this? Because during the civil rights movements we naively and ignorantly fought to assimilate our education along with those who did not want us on their school property let alone in their classrooms. Those who never intended “formal” education be extended to us and furthermore, we put the control of our “mind building” into the hands of people who did not know anything about us and had no interest in learning or sharing any knowledge with us in the first place. We know that this was a huge mistake and now it’s time to rebound from years of mis-education and mind control.

For centuries, we have been brainwashed into believing that the natural order of humanity is the Eurocentric perspective and it’s this illusion that white supremacy is real which maintains the status quo. Living in Ontario Canada, we’re surrounded by a multitude of diversity and various ethnic groups have rightfully and responsibly taken it upon themselves to guard against this lie. The East Indian community works together to ensure that their languages, culture, heritage and various faiths are supported and maintained. The Jewish community to works together to ensure the preservation of their cultural norms, mores and values as do the Muslim, Ukrainian, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Russian and many of the other various communities. We must work cohesively to ensure that our Black children are also exposed to an alternate reality within our own respective communities now more than ever.

What factions of the US government is boldly and openly demonstrating is that the poor and subjugated deserve no voice. They deserve no benefit of communalism nor the sharing and fair distribution of resources. How long do you think it will be before Canada experiences something relatively similar? There is absolutely no guarantee that our future generations will have the security of a social safety net and therefore, it is our onus to ensure that they are prepared to be self-sufficient, useful and enterprising people. The resourceful and proactive thing to do is assume culpability for our own valuable assets as they do theirs.
Becoming aware of this reality is the first step in building a systematic approach to counter this oppressive phenomena. It’s worked hard and long enough to keep us stationary, stagnant and silent. It’s time to liberate ourselves and each other and to count ourselves as equal and deserving even when others would have us believe and behave according to the contrary popular belief.

Always –

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Generation Y, Z & Education: Relatively speaking…

Generation Y

With a new school year now upon us and kids finally settling down with their noses to the grindstone and lost tidily away with their books and assignments (yeah right) I wanted to make what I believe is a key message to parents. My daughter and I were recently discussing the catch phrases to name our generations. My mother is a “Baby Boomer”, I’m “Generation Y”,  Jaiah is “Generation Z”. Each generation is described as having our own social distinctions and specific generalizations related to the era of our birth. For “Generation Y” , it’s those of us born from 1977-1994.

It occurred to me that our children, those descended from parents belonging to “Generation Y” have an advantage that we ought not take for granted. Our kids are born to probably the most literate, educated, liberated, exposed, technologically advanced, well-travelled, racially and ethnically diverse group of Black People alive at this time.

From a social and educational stand-point, this is a rather powerful tool in ways which can help us relate to our offspring. We really do have that “been there, done that” experience and at least in terms of all things mentioned above, we share many common traits in terms of generational social relativity. (That’s a mouthful of big words) AND we have Black Twitter which I believe is an undervalued resource in terms of networking, gathering input and direction for many topics of discussion, ideological influence and social commentary.

Now, having said that I believe that parents ought to feel empowered about the common bonds we share instead of being insecure about the challenges our kids face that we’re not so familiar with. Example, when I was a high school student, it was not commonplace for teenaged girls to be at school wearing shorts and skirts shorter than their vaginas : – | but this can also be used as a teachable moment by having a conversation about what is and what isn’t appropriate attire. You guys get my drift…

What I’m saying is that we all have the potential to be great examples and teachers to our children. If you feel that you have educational shortcomings, be the inspiration you want to spark in your learner. If you haven’t finished high school, I urge you to get out there and earn your GED to start. Take that college or university course you were always interested in. Aspire for higher learning because when we do, chances are they will too. Let’s expose them to the realities of our employment and show them what it takes to survive in the workforce. If you are unemployed, get out there and volunteer for a community initiative. If you are computer illiterate, take a free class at your local library. When we are involved and hands-on within our communities and we are open and expressive with our interests, passions and even our own insecurities, our children are exposed to a special confidence and they draw from that strength and eventually, they learn to do the same.

Based on the definition of “Generation Y”, children born to us should be the most socially and technologically advanced literate, educated and driven Black People on the planet. Sadly, this is not what is reflected in North American education and social statistics, business demographics or political diaspora.

In this world, education is not just about what we teach in the classrooms, it as much about what we teach in our living rooms. Every one of us has experience, skills and knowledge to share.  Support your learners by inspiring them  with the actions and experiences in your everyday lives.

Be that example of higher achievement and success. Be that good example of community involvement. Be that example of positive attitude, critical thinking and communication. Be that example of a hands-on teacher. Be their support system. Be that role model. We certainly have the tools, we certainly have the reasons to so,
Y not?

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

Stop Eating Here

Last night at ap. 8pm, we were asked to leave the Lone Star Texas Grill at 930 Dixon Road, Etobicoke because our baby was “too loud”. We were seated on the main floor in a booth and there were quite a few babies in the restaurant who were making the noises that children normally do. Nothing excessive, certainly nothing offensive and yet, the assistant manager waited until just after we were served our meal to approach the table and inform us that about 12 patrons had complained that our baby was too loud and that he would pay for my meal if I would leave with my son. My son is 1 year old.

Seated at the table were myself, two of my best friends and my oldest daughter who is sixteen. We were having a farewell dinner for our friend, Pte. Georgina N. Hamilton who had just graduated that morning after completing an 8 week Level Three Qualification Course at Base Camp Borden. She is a new Supply Technician with the Canadian Armed Forces and was leaving for Nova Scotia following our meal.

At first, the assistant manager who shall remain nameless for now approached us, stood at the end of our table and proceeded to communicate that he simply couldn’t have my son disturb the other patrons in his establishment as they are “…running a business.” He claimed that people were getting up and leaving the restaurant leaving their unpaid bills behind.

Yes, he claimed that my 1 year old baby, was making enough racket in a family restaurant during dinner hours that it was best if I left with him. He didn’t offer to reseat us. He didn’t offer to come down to my level at the table and speak to me quietly or privately. He didn’t smile in that “I know how kids are but, I just have to let you know what other people are saying” kind of way. He calmly informed me that it would be best if I left with my son and that he would gladly pay for it.

He avoided eye contact with the other guests at the table, he avoided speaking directly to them. He also made it clear that he would only be paying for MY meal and no one else’ as though he expected me to leave and my dinner party would carry on eating as if nothing had happened. One of my friends had already pre-paid for her meal so that to ensure she wouldn’t be late making her airplane departure.

The entire time the gentleman was at our table, my son didn’t make a sound. In fact, the restaurant was eerily quiet. We didn’t get loud. Nobody overreacted, we simply advised that if one of was being asked to leave, we are all being asked to leave and that all bills would be covered and for obvious reasons. When I mentioned to him that social media outlets can tell a good story, he then agreed to pay for all of our meals. Just as we’re gathering our things to leave, we heard a baby on the level just above us squeal loudly. He ignored this until we pointed it out and asked if he would be approaching their table too to ask them to leave the restaurant; He calmly said, “If I get complaints about that baby, then I’ll approach them too.” and he walked off as we ushered ourselves toward the front of the building where we then collected the business card of the general manager.

The only difference between my squealing baby and the other squealing baby was that my son, and the people seated around him are Black.

I am not naïve, yet although I am completely wide awake and understand how the world operates, I can’t help but be sickened that things like this still happen in 2013 and in my beloved Canada of all places.

I am waiting to hear back from the General Manager for that restaurant. After explaining to him this morning what happened, he explained that he would “investigate” and get back to me.  I have spoken to the Human Rights Commission Tribunal for their advice in the meanwhile as we wait to see how this unfolds.
I had to share. I had to write about it; It’s what I do.

Tell me dear reader, do you think it’s fair to demand justice in the form of an apology. Demand the employee receive Sexual Harassment And Racial Prejudice training (S.H.A.R.P) as it pertains the code of the Canadian Human Rights Commission AND a monetary donation to Blacklit101 Education program fund? Doing nothing IS NOT AN OPTION.

What are your thoughts about this very un-curious incident?
I’m really interested to know your opinions on this. What are some of your stories? How did you feel? What did you do?

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Reading, Writing and Respect.

Paddle
In the classroom, Black children can often be treated like second class citizens.

I learned the hard way that often times when our children are reporting to us with conflict or having “issues” with their teachers, we as parents ought to believe them. Here’s why, many teachers simply do not have the wherewithal to effectively deal with the cultural differences that naturally exists between themselves and their students. After all, teachers are only people;  Mere mortals and life can condition them to have prejudices and preconceived notions about Black people just like anyone else. However, when this spills over into the classroom, teacher-student conflict can easily contaminate the learning environment.

This is why I believe that discipline is of the utmost importance. A well behaved student can make the difference in how the teacher relates to him, her and their peers. When our children are not busy living up to the negative stereotypes, it’s a lot harder for the facilitator to justify his or her prejudiced attitudes and behaviors. Classroom management can be organized and structured around pathways for successful learning which is inclusive of all students.

Parents, please encourage your learner to use their manners and the “home training” that we work so hard to instill within them. Remind them that is our onus as parents to advocate on their behalf when conflict arises. If the child is in a position where they feel they must self-advocate, teach them to do so assertively yet politely until the adult care-giver can intervene. Not only does this show the teacher that the child is valued and supported, it reinforces to the child that they are safe and protected. It also helps to preserve balance in the classroom as no teacher will take being undermined or disrespected lightly which can lead to burned bridges even if the conflict was encouraged by the teacher to begin with. This can lead to a myriad of BS which ultimately distracts from learning.

With September fast approaching, set aside some time to sit down with your child and talk about the expectations that you have for them in terms of their performance, attitude, citizenship and behavior within the school environment. Having an open dialogue and establishing parameters for their conduct and deportment can help to better prepare them mentally as well as alleviate any uncertainty they might have toward their role in the classroom and that of the figures of authority they will have to deal with every day.

Back to school preparation is about us as much as it’s about them. Help them to establish goals, milestones and objectives for the new school year. Nurture their ambition, I promise you, it will help you to not only support their educational needs, it may save you some really nasty headaches down the road. It’s ok, you can trust me because I’m speaking from my own experience as an educator and as a parent.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Death in Silence

Shh

I would not go so gently
Down
None at all would hear my
Sound

Stifled silence alone I
Drown
Submersive waves to flood my
Ground

Choke me to the dark
Profound
Quiet carries way my
Crown

Loneliness in death be
Found
A silenced voice
A mind unwound

~Rachelle M. Turple

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Filed under Education, Poetry, Women

I Will Always Return To Zimbabwe

Baobab Beauty

I will always return to Zimbabwe
Precious jewel of Africa
Birthplace for my love of travel
And my fear of ignorance
First away from Neverland experience
Where I was never treated like a stranger
So far away from Nova Scotia
Welcomed and protected
Educated and informed
My exodus to a “home” I can never claim
But wish I could

I will always return to Zimbabwe
Bus rides to Bulawayo
To meet the Sandy plains of Hwange
On to Dete for a polite midnight Braai
and warm sadza
and Scud shared from a cup
Lazy train ride to Victoria Falls
Where my ashes will one day scatter
Forever flowing on the Zembezi
To mingle with the Crocodiles and the Hippos
Where being colored is just the state of being
Colored…

I will always return to Zimbabwe
She in all her Babobab beauty
Glorious sunsets and freezing cold mornings
Nachies for breakfast
The best fried chicken and tomatoes
I’d ever tasted
Non genetically modified foods
Still tasting Nando’s on my tongue
All these years later
Rich red Earth
Dusty sandals and toes
After a walk through Harare suburbs
Realizing suburbs exist beyond Canada

I will always return to Zimbabwe
Friendships forged through
Mbange conversations
About politricks and passion
And items
And way too much cheap alcohol
High density areas that taught me
District 9 isn’t just a sci fi movie
It’s a social commentary
“have and have not” mentality
I grew a whole foot in Zimbabwe
My 24th year of life
Naïve and
Newly born.

~Rachelle M. Turple

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Filed under Poetry