Tag Archives: Afro-Canadian Success

#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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Filed under African Canadian, Black Canadian, Black Educators, Black Literature, Education, Eurocentricism, Literacy, Musings, Parents, Racism, Uncategorized, Women

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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Filed under African Canadian, Black Canadian, Black Educators, Black Literature, Brampton, Brampton Ontario, Education, Literacy, Musings, Parents, The Back To School Chronicles

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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Filed under African Canadian, Black Canadian, Black Educators, Black Literature, Black Youth, Education, Literacy, Musings, Ontario, Parents, The Back To School Chronicles, Women

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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Filed under African Canadian, Black Canadian, Black Educators, Black Literature, Black Youth, Brampton, Brampton Ontario, Education, Musings, Ontario, Parents, Uncategorized

The Black Student And Writing

BlackApple

As a new school year fast approaches, I’ll be posting articles which may help students and parents get ready to put their best feet forward this September. Although anyone can learn from this particular post, I emphasize that this is for Black students simply because of the reality.  Expectations for Black students reading and writing abilities are much lower than the median for their non-Black counterparts. That’s it folks. In terms of literacy, our children are expected to naturally fare worse than their peers. I want to change this phenomenon.  

Even without formal instruction, young learners will gradually learn the correct structures and rules of the English language. When a child is learning to read, they may use a variety of strategies to decode and understand the text but, in accepting this rule, we are first assuming that the student already has a good “grasp” of the English language. In terms of writing, we typically tend to gauge our child’s functioning skills by connecting that it is a reflection of how well they speak. This is a common mistake that many of us parents make. Although verbal skills and written skill are correlated, good speakers do not automatically make good writers. We all know people who speak effortlessly but give them a pen and they can barely string two sentences together. How about those of us who would simply die of embarrassment if people saw our writing through the lens of the autocorrect or spellcheck tools.

Many factors influence what determines good writing. Here are a few tips to help us parents support our children’s literacy needs. Getting into the practice of incorporating the things below can help develop writing skills.

Writing 101:

  • Good writing is clear and has an easily identified point.
  • That point is supported with information.
  • The information is clear, connected and logical.
  • The words are appropriate and the spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are correct.

That’s it, four little tips to help our learners excel. In writing, practice might never make perfect but, it does help us to become better
After the writing task has been assigned, it is helpful to begin with the basics; What are you writing and who are you writing for? Is it an essay? Short fiction? Book report? Research project? Thesis? Once the task is determined, identify the audience. Ensure that the target audience (teachers/peers/instructors/professors) can easily understand what they are reading. We may live in a ROFLMAO, SMH, WTF? Techno-social-media-short-form world but, in the realm of formal education; Spelling, grammar and punctuation all matter.

A learner who is in the habit of taking their time to write, then to proofread and edit will generally submit better written material.

Being able to identify and then connect the audience or reader to the content is very important. Writing which conveys emotion or feeling and even invokes sentiment within the reader demonstrates skill. Being able to hold the reader’s attention is an equally effective skill therefore, wording is paramount. In my experience, my students often try to impress me by using big words which isn’t a bad thing at all, in fact I encourage it. I am often affected and pleased by the effort however; Using relevant wording will often win over an audience easier than lofty wording or, by contrast using dull wording. These provocative tactics can sometimes backfire in either case by insulting the reader’s intelligence. I don’t know about you but for me, that’s usually an automatic turn-off. Students should be encouraged to explore language but, not craft sentences around words they feel will help them to show-off.  
Don’t forget the content! The subject or topic being covered is the star of the show. The content must reflect the criteria of the assignment. I can’t name how often I’ve peer edited and at the end of reading I had no idea what the point was. This is a dangerous ground. Sticking to the point can be hard but, it ought to be the central theme.

The difference between being a mediocre writer and a good writer is a matter of semantics. It has nothing to do with talent! Being an effective writer is in understanding your own voice, identifying your weaknesses and writing around them. It’s being daring and risking being open in what you chose to write about. It’s about taking the task of writing beyond the course outline and using the parameters of the paper to do everything the instructor requires of you to get that ‘A’ and also revealing who you are as an individual.
Most importantly and I share this with my ESL students, but the rule is as true for native English speakers; The best way to become proficient in writing is to read, read, READ! I can’t stress this point enough. Avid readers tend to develop broader vocabulary as well as learn to identify and use various writing mechanics.

Parents, please understand that a good writing tutor might save you money down the road. Learning the mechanics of writing in grade 6, 7 and 8 will prepare your child for his or her academic future. By the time your child reaches high school and written communication becomes a major component of learning, they will already have the skills needed to easily express their thoughts, world views and opinions through writing. To write effectively is to communicate effectively which often translates into better marks and higher grades resulting in greater opportunities for bursaries, scholarships and other free money to put toward post secondary education.

It’s not that good writing requires formal education, it’s that formal education requires good writing.

As always,

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Filed under African Canadian, Black Canadian, Black Educators, Black Literature, Black Youth, Brampton, Education, Literacy, Parents, The Back To School Chronicles

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

Miss Educated. Miss Inspired. Miss Directed. Miss Gifted-And-Going-Far!

Beautiful Jaiah

Over the past few weeks, I’ve focused on a lot of topics, but have strayed away from my primary focus and goal which is in re-education; Today, I regress.

It has occurred to me that many of our daughters are being painted with the broader stroke of mediocrity and unjustly so.  Young Black girls are often pressured by outside influence as to what they should look like, act like and who they should be liked by. During the tumultuous period of adolescence, it’s easy and natural for our daughters to be conflicted about their identities and sense of self. We parents are often confused as to who this new person is that we find ourselves living with. Someone we knew for 16 years and who was sweet and innocent only yesterday is suddenly argumentative and wanting a bum-length weave, false eyelashes, a lip tattoo and permission to drive your car. She’s undoubtedly finding herself and disturbing your reasonable enjoyment in order to do so. The princess of your loins has become a near stranger in personality as well as physical appearance.

Now, imagine this same character in the classroom for 8 hours a day already feeling conflicted about who she is and who she wants to be. Picture this person in a class with 30some other 16 year old freaks of nature with raging hormones, body odor, acne and attitude problems and then, imagine yourself as the teacher who has to deal with all of them at once for days at a time. Scary isn’t it? Makes the reality of having to deal with one at a time seem like a blessing doesn’t it? I understand, I’ve often taken it for granted too.

Teachers bear the burden of having to facilitate learning in environments best navigated by The Joint Task Force, this is the reality. Good teachers try to balance calm and stimulation while maintaining an atmosphere conducive for thinking.  A good teacher innately understands the challenges of kidulthood and adjusts his or her teaching curve to deal with the ebbs and flows of the teenaged attention span. A good teacher cares that our children leave the school day knowing one thing more than they did the day before and that their personal arsenal of critical thinking and mass communication skills are being cultivated in abundance. A good teacher notices when your child is expressing both fluency and difficulties in subject matter and coordinates with parents accordingly to address the situation in either case.  This is my short list of good teacher qualities and in a perfect world, our children would have the luxury of being placed in classrooms with caring individuals who are passionate about education however; This is not the reality. In many cases, what our children are experiencing is the complete antithesis of this dream.

Parents, be aware that our daughters are often left in the shadows of students who require more attention due to behavioural issues. Our daughters are being neglected in the classes because they don’t draw any special attention to themselves academically or attitudinally.  Sadly, our daughters educational needs are being ignored because of how they look. If they fit the description of a young-Black female-who-isn’t-destined-for-much-of-a-future-anyway, many teachers will not invest the time it takes to cultivate trust and respect in order to help to inspire her to reach her full potential.

In terms of the traditional education system, unlike our sons, as long as Black girls behave well and keep their “attitudes” in check, regardless of whether or not they complete their assigned tasks or are up to the class median, they pose less of a threat and therefore are treated with less interference. They can be virtually invisible.

Parents, this is an issue. Our girls need to be challenged, included and regarded as visible within the classroom environment in order to reap the benefits of academic exposure. We must ensure that our daughters are aligned in fully exploiting the full value of her education as this will help to assure the completeness of self-esteem, her confidence in her abilities and her future success.  Be ever vigilant of this phenomenon and commit to protecting our daughters from it. Demand parent teacher reviews and interaction. Get to know what her teacher thinks about her. Demand that her teachers actually get to understand her needs and challenge her accordingly. Demand homework, it’s practise. Encourage her to get involved with school citizenship and extracurricular activities and not only sports. (Unless it’s Girls rugby!) Support her to join the debate team, teen political and mock parliament societies. Encourage as much academic exposure that you can so that her brain grows at the same rate as her interest in boys. If you can’t limit her distractions, participate in them! Trust me, your teen won’t feel the need spend 23 out of 24hrs a day Tweeting her random musings if you become one of her followers…

Parents, especially us mothers, we must be good to our daughters. Our rule of thumb ought to be the role model she needs so that she can breathe life into her dreams and passions. Help her learn and express her abilities. Teach her to understand the implications of being overly sexually provocative. Show her how a lady acts and dresses while still accepting her need to explore her less than desirable fashion sense. Teach her the classic approach to sexiness: Sometimes less is more. Make your good demeanor the prime example of how hers should be. Allow her to be sensitive and express her feelings and softer side. Teach her to embrace and develop her natural gifts and talents. Teach her to be a good friend.  Be the one true person who advocates for her when she needs it yet demonstrates how she must advocate and assert for herself.
She will be a better woman for it. She will have better learning experiences for it. One day, she will become a better mother because of it. Don’t be her friend, be her mom; Her good teacher.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Freedom has no space for victim-hood. Let’s get FREE.

Lets get Free

George Zimmerman has been turned free and now that a message has been sent to Black America that although it’s “illegal”, it is perfectly acceptable to be anti-social and to pursue and shoot Black children for sport. What is the recourse?

We know that perverse amounts of Black children are being lost to child endangerment, neglect, abuse, poverty and ignorance daily at the hands of other Black people.
We know that sadly, our children do not look brightly into the future and often feel that the streets can offer them more money, power and respect than an education and a nine-to-five can.
We know that our children often feel misguided, underrepresented and lost. We know that when people feel as though they have nothing to lose, they can easily become anti-social.
Black people, this is the bane of our existence.

But, you can’t cry foul when you’re doing foul and non-action is a foulness to my sensibilities.
We have to change the status quo. Point. Blank. Period.

In the history of man, there has never been a time where growth, development or victory was derived from inaction and stagnant compliance. Throughout our ancestral timeline and no matter the race, human tenacity has always been the driving force behind advancement and upward mobility. Behind every war, there is an ideology reinforcing an agenda and an opposing body of representation involved in the conflict. The conquering of nations requires a division of leadership and logistics in almost equal measures. Almost every act of human ingenuity whether it’s been the invention of the wheel or the simple lever, has been a response to a need or at least a perceived usefulness. The point is, in a social context, human evolution don’t just happen organically, we have to get our hands dirty. We can not sit idly by with our mouths agape expecting things to change through inaction. Complaining about the problems doesn’t solve them. Acknowledging the issues and designing a comprehensive course of action surely will though.

Until the 1830’s, which really isn’t a long time go when you think about it, the goal was freedom. Black people wanted to get “free”. After slavery was “abolished” freedom was ours at last but has it really been? What does it mean to be free? Is freedom being able to come and go as you please without requiring permission? Is freedom being able to live comfortably without the worry of not being able to meet financial obligations? Is freedom simply being without physical bondage or captivity? Does the idea of freedom live in being able to think, feel and openly express opinions that critique social standards and the powers who enforce them?
It’s important to have an understanding of the concept of freedom and what it means in order to truly embrace the condition and live to the full potential of this privilege. Freedom means many different things for many different people. In terms of Black people, I for one believe the term is used very loosely and have always regarded freedom in terms of relativity. For me, freedom is all of the above but it means also having power. Having power over my own social condition. Having political and financial might which diligently supports and advocates for social equality and balance within the Black community and which is level, as good as, and on par with the rest of the North American standard for the “majority”. In a loose context, I suppose Black people are free however, below the surface obvious complexities are frequent reminders of the brainwash that we’ve allowed to control our thought process for too long now. Brainwash that fools us into believing that we are powerless victims.
You know what we become when our minds are occupied with an agenda which isn’t a reflection of our own personal values and doesn’t make social sense for us? Cultural mercenaries. Victims of circumstances that you are too ignorant to challenge and therefore change.

I hate quoting famous people because it seems so cliche but, when Bob Marley wrote, “Free yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” he hit the nail squarely on the head.
Freedom isn’t purchased, it isn’t always a measure of physical confinement either. I know people locked away in prison who are far more free than I ever will be. They’ve got access to limitless education, three square meals a day, shelter, medical care and plenty of time for hobbies and self-reflection and all on my tax dollar. It doesn’t get more free than that… Freedom is state of mind.
Free yourself from mental slavery. Liberate your mind and as you awaken, everything else in your life will eventually fall into place because your actions will be guided by true knowledge and not the foolishness you’ve been lead to believe which keeps you captive and easily controlled and victimized.

What are we willing to do to get free? Are we willing to take the necessary measures to re-educate ourselves to defend against and change the status quo? Are we willing to evolve our language, attitudes and behavior to restore pride and esteem to our culture? Are we willing to support Black business and Black enterprise? Are we willing to take control over our own education? Are we willing to live by the same standards we set for others in terms of how we want to be treated and impose them upon ourselves? Are we willing to admonish the *N* word completely from our vernacular for people inside and outside of our race? Are we willing to be a strict in punishing those of use who display behaviors which cast a disappointing and embarrassing shadow on Black people and hold them accountable for cultural non-compliance? Are we willing to stop living up to the stereotypes? Are we willing to reach out to people with which whom we have nothing in common for support, to educate, to uplift and to embrace as kinfolk bonded simply because we are Black? Are we willing to be the keepers of our brothers and sisters and advocate for them at all times and not only when the national spotlight is shining brightly?
Black people don’t need a hero; We need to smarten up and stop living in the box that’s we’ve been trained to not think outside of.

The solutions for our race are reflected in the very problems that challenge us but first, we have to face the mirror and resolve to be better. Get determined to get free and open up the avenues for a healthier pathology. Freedom is having a voice and a choice.

I affirm to lend myself not as a martyr but as an example of what I believe to be the path to enlightenment for Black people of the North American variety. I have to BE the change I want to see in the world.
We can cry and scream and moan AND pray about the status quo and it changes absolutely nothing; Or, we can act, we can learn, we can evolve, we can BE the change we want to see reflected in our people and it changes everything.
There’s strength in community, there’s power in community. What are we willing to sacrifice to really get free?

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

PS,
Yes that is the cover from the Dead Prez album “Lets Get Free”  (one of THE BEST records ever) but I know sh*t about copyright law and am not trying to get sued so credit and respect to Dead Prez!
RMT

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Weapons Of Mass Communication And Critical Thinking.

Think

If knowledge is power than the ability to think, criticize, determine and communicate are the traits of a powerful and therefore dangerous person no?
More and more I am seeing a doe-eyed blank stare coming from the young people in my life when it comes to being able to self-advocate.
My nephews cringe at the thought of having to make a phone call to a professional organization for fear of saying the wrong thing, and my own daughter cowers and shrinks and assumes a child-like voice when expected to leave a voice message or is asked to order a pizza over the phone.

I suspect that this behavior is simply a reflection of their lack of self-confidence in terms of their communication skills however; part of being successful in life is having the ability to produce an independent thought and communicate it. They simply haven’t yet realized their divine power as humans.

Would you agree that it is imperative that our children learn to think and communicate effectively, eloquently and confidently in order to support their opportunities for success?

Our thoughts and opinions are largely influenced by our exposure to elements which evolve our vocabulary, develop our attitudes and challenge our core beliefs and value systems. Depending on the variables, these exposures not only help to formulate who we are as individuals but, ultimately strengthen our confidence as readers, speakers, writers and most importantly thinkers.
We must ensure that our children are provided maximum exposure to elements which will benefit their capacity for analytic output and the communication skill-set to animate their thoughts, emotions and opinions into the known universe. As adults, parents and mentors, we must encourage reading, encourage watching credible news sources, encourage travel, encourage the dramatic arts, encourage tasteful film, indulge their natural curiosities about the world and the people in it. Encourage calculated risk-taking. These things are needed for the learner to broaden the boundaries of the thought process. Open-mindedness is a key element for re-educating our children and placing them on the pathways to success and freeing them from the foothills of mediocrity.

When our children believe that they possess the know-how to think and speak for themselves, they can then be expected to grow up with the security of knowing that they can advocate for themselves and defend against the proverbial powers that be. They can be expected to negotiate. Arbitrate. Adjudicate. Mediate. Intervene. Collaborate. Compromise…
Relinquish the thesaurus, you get the picture. There is no limit to what they can do when we attune them to the value of knowing.

John Dewey held the philosophy that building strong thinking skills through education not only benefits the learner but, also the community and the democracy as a whole. I’m definitely in support of that school of thought especially in terms of building those skills within the Black community. Being able to think and to learn to fully exploit the benefits of effective communication is arming our children with powerful weaponry and this is beautifully dangerous in terms of the status quo.
Without effective communication skills, the components needed for critical thinking are lost on the individual. The acts of problem solving and decision making are compromised and I believe that this puts the Black learner at a major disadvantage both educationally and socially.

If it is true that “The process of critical thinking involves the careful acquisition and interpretation of information and use of it to reach a well-justified conclusion.”(Wikipedia) it obviously follows that a lack of critical thinking results in poor problem solving and decision making. If you disagree with everything I’ve written, I’m sure we can at least agree that our children deserve a fair chance at making the best possible decisions for themselves.

If our past is any indication of our future, as a People, we’ve come a long way and have the strength, courage and tenacity to face whatever future we decide for ourselves; it no longer has to be reactionary. Once we are armed with the power of wisdom and embrace cooperation, we are a force to be reckoned with and we can be in full control of our collective destiny as a People.
We must banish the relics of The Jim Crow era in terms of the expectation that Black people are doomed by an inevitable separate, poor and desolate outcome. That’s brainwash and couldn’t possibly be any further from the truth.

In hopes of shaping a brighter future for our generations, we must safeguard them in all possible facets. Thinking, speaking, reading, writing and ultimately communicating are the most precious commodities we can stockpile.

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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Filed under African Canadian, Black Canadian, Black Educators, Black Literature, Black Youth, Brampton, Brampton Ontario, Education, Literacy, Musings, Ontario, Ontario Curiculum, Parents, Uncategorized, Women