Tag Archives: Black Canadian

#SolidarityIsForBlackWomenToo

Ankh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light Reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~R

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12 Years A Slave: An essay, a review.

12 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Eurocentric Brainwash: The Bain Of Black Existence In North America

Keep Calm

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

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

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

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

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

Always –

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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Generation Y, Z & Education: Relatively speaking…

Generation Y

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.

~Rachelle

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

Stop Eating Here

UPDATE & OUTCOME

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

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

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

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

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

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
~Rachelle

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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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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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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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