Tag Archives: Afro-Centric Education

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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The Black “leaders” have disappeared leaving heroes in their wake.

Black Power

What comes to mind when you think of the word “leader”?
Do you envision an authoritative person? A guiding or directing force? The head of the table? Perhaps a protective father figure or an example of paternalism? A boss?
These are some of the things that come to mind for me and I believe that for many people, we share the same connotation. However, as of late, I’ve come to believe that for Black people, our definition of leadership has been severely diluted, watered down and thinned out.

I know I don’t speak for all Canadians but, I certainly don’t see Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan and the like as representations of “leaders” for the Black community in Canada. I don’t believe that we have official “token leaders” who fit that bill anyway but those people certainly aren’t them, they don’t belong to us. I realize that many American Blacks share the same sentiment.

What is a leader? What are the characteristics of a leader? Why are some leaders successful and others utter failures? What makes us “follow” others?
In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Mostly because I’ve been pretty disturbed with the way the media has handled the people involved in this case. For example, Miss Rachel Jeantel. News personalities repeatedly interviewed this young lady and put her on blast on camera and I feel her image has been totally exploited for the media circus and to me, it’s disturbing.
Trayvon Martin’s parents were on Dr. Phil this past Monday, not even 2 weeks out of the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman and I couldn’t help but wonder how these poor people have had the proper chance to mourn the death of their son let alone deal with the reverberation of injustice and still make time for interviews.

Where were the “leaders” while this was happening? Why didn’t they lead this young woman as far away from the cameras as possible? Lead this family into a supportive forum of community embrace and obscurity away from the national spotlight and media frenzy for awhile? Offer some peace and solitude so that they can slowly begin to pick up the pieces of their forever fragmented lives.

In my mind, a “leader” would have reached out to the Martin’s and the young lady and their families and advised against remaining in the limelight for fear of the obvious; Aggravated Blacksploitation. In the case of Jeantel, having her on camera only helps to further destroy the image of Black women by delivering up the expectation of the stereotypical Black woman and right on prime time television. Reality TV at it’s worst.
Watching Trayvon Martin’s father cry incessantly on camera is not only heart wrenching but adds to further emasculate and weaken the Black man so why are these “leaders” not sheltering him? Is it not up to the head of the family, the “leader”to protect their people from this shyte?

I say to the so-called modern day civil rights “leaders”, you’ve failed and you have been failing in epic proportions for quite some time now. If you weren’t, the status quo wouldn’t be as such. If you worked for Donald Trump, your failing would have had you fired eons ago for your inability to inspire and therefore produce results.

Here’s what happens when the image of the Black family is degraded and dishonored; The Black community as whole is undermined and ultimately destroyed.

In my neck of the world, although we don’t have public familiars who placate the news outlets in the face of tragedy, our community leaders look more like you and me. They are the elders and parents who give a shyte what theirs and my children are up to. Who proactively and committedly strive to engage youth and offer themselves as examples and role models as to how responsible Black citizens behave. Leaders are the men and women who actively participate in the rearing of their children and refuse to stoop to the below grade standard of societal expectations. They educate their peers from dangerous brainwash which can distract and hamper Black people from achieving and limiting their success. They never lower their expectations and in fact work to promote cultural pride and integrity within the Black community in spite of the multitude of challenges. These leaders dialogue and are open to express, engage, communicate and action directives for solutions. They encourage knowledge to correct bad behavior and re-educate against systematically embedded misinformation. Leaders acknowledge that although they may not have all of the answers, their hopes for a better future and their genuine love of Black people is enough to inspire, propel and satisfy them. Real leaders aren’t looking to profit from “Black people problems”. Real leaders are the un-sung heroes who don’t need to shuck and jive for the cameras because their broader audiences are local and homegrown.

Canada is certainly not the haven for Black people, we have our own fair share of hurdles. Certainly, there is no Mecca-Noir here BUT, thanks be to God that we don’t have to share these poor excuses for leadership with our American counterparts.

We can and must demand a higher standard from Black people who garnish the title of “leader” yet, their habit is to linger in the limelight and although they have the ability to use the greater forum to change the status quo; They. Do. Not.

Nat Turner, Phillip Randolph, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandella, Daisy Lee Gatson, Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton; Now these are examples of leadership. However imperfect, these are people who personify courage, support and activism.
I’ll leave you with this dear reader, if you have to lower your expectations in order to deal with another person, what does that say about that person? I believe it speaks volumes and in very loud decibels. We should expect more from community “leaders” and invalidate those who refuse to rise to the level of expectation which we deserve. When you advocate on my behalf, be responsible. Be respectable. Truly love Black people.

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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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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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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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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A Mothers Journey

footsteps
The journey of a million miles begins with a single mother
Her weeping woes of wisdom seem to transgress like no other.
The open arms of honesty hold steadfast though they tangle
Her children cry obscenities as her love begins to strangle.

When toddling becomes crawling and walk turns into run
Every bump and bruised is kissed away still her grip becomes undone.
The nursling grows now a form independent of her plea
No matter of mere prayers or tears or pure tenacity.

Beyond the trials of motherhood she cannot bear to vision
But while she constantly constrains, her cubs become imprisoned.
Her love becomes ferocity and protection their division
The babes privately premeditate their eminent excision.

When soon her fledglings have enough and plan to leave the nest
She makes to mind a watchful eye in futility at best.
The world has opened up and swallowed all that she held dear
She cannot conceive a life without her babies near.

Space and time her allies yet she feels she is alone
Maturity and malevolence start to lead her offspring home.
They desire of the guidance and protection of their youth
Somehow she’s seen it all and they are honored by her truth.

A mother’s work is never done and seldom does she rest
She will worry when she sleeps, constantly in stress.
Her children will respect her when they learn that she knows best
For them she’d walk a million miles and for this she is blessed.

Rachelle M. Turple

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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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