Tag Archives: Black Community
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.
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
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,
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
Last night at ap. 8pm, we were asked to leave the Lone Star Texas Grill at 930 Dixon Road, Etobicoke because our baby was “too loud”. We were seated on the main floor in a booth and there were quite a few babies in the restaurant who were making the noises that children normally do. Nothing excessive, certainly nothing offensive and yet, the assistant manager waited until just after we were served our meal to approach the table and inform us that about 12 patrons had complained that our baby was too loud and that he would pay for my meal if I would leave with my son. My son is 1 year old.
Seated at the table were myself, two of my best friends and my oldest daughter who is sixteen. We were having a farewell dinner for our friend, Pte. Georgina N. Hamilton who had just graduated that morning after completing an 8 week Level Three Qualification Course at Base Camp Borden. She is a new Supply Technician with the Canadian Armed Forces and was leaving for Nova Scotia following our meal.
At first, the assistant manager who shall remain nameless for now approached us, stood at the end of our table and proceeded to communicate that he simply couldn’t have my son disturb the other patrons in his establishment as they are “…running a business.” He claimed that people were getting up and leaving the restaurant leaving their unpaid bills behind.
Yes, he claimed that my 1 year old baby, was making enough racket in a family restaurant during dinner hours that it was best if I left with him. He didn’t offer to reseat us. He didn’t offer to come down to my level at the table and speak to me quietly or privately. He didn’t smile in that “I know how kids are but, I just have to let you know what other people are saying” kind of way. He calmly informed me that it would be best if I left with my son and that he would gladly pay for it.
He avoided eye contact with the other guests at the table, he avoided speaking directly to them. He also made it clear that he would only be paying for MY meal and no one else’ as though he expected me to leave and my dinner party would carry on eating as if nothing had happened. One of my friends had already pre-paid for her meal so that to ensure she wouldn’t be late making her airplane departure.
The entire time the gentleman was at our table, my son didn’t make a sound. In fact, the restaurant was eerily quiet. We didn’t get loud. Nobody overreacted, we simply advised that if one of was being asked to leave, we are all being asked to leave and that all bills would be covered and for obvious reasons. When I mentioned to him that social media outlets can tell a good story, he then agreed to pay for all of our meals. Just as we’re gathering our things to leave, we heard a baby on the level just above us squeal loudly. He ignored this until we pointed it out and asked if he would be approaching their table too to ask them to leave the restaurant; He calmly said, “If I get complaints about that baby, then I’ll approach them too.” and he walked off as we ushered ourselves toward the front of the building where we then collected the business card of the general manager.
The only difference between my squealing baby and the other squealing baby was that my son, and the people seated around him are Black.
I am not naïve, yet although I am completely wide awake and understand how the world operates, I can’t help but be sickened that things like this still happen in 2013 and in my beloved Canada of all places.
I am waiting to hear back from the General Manager for that restaurant. After explaining to him this morning what happened, he explained that he would “investigate” and get back to me. I have spoken to the Human Rights Commission Tribunal for their advice in the meanwhile as we wait to see how this unfolds.
I had to share. I had to write about it; It’s what I do.
Tell me dear reader, do you think it’s fair to demand justice in the form of an apology. Demand the employee receive Sexual Harassment And Racial Prejudice training (S.H.A.R.P) as it pertains the code of the Canadian Human Rights Commission AND a monetary donation to Blacklit101 Education program fund? Doing nothing IS NOT AN OPTION.
What are your thoughts about this very un-curious incident?
I’m really interested to know your opinions on this. What are some of your stories? How did you feel? What did you do?
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
I learned the hard way that often times when our children are reporting to us with conflict or having “issues” with their teachers, we as parents ought to believe them. Here’s why, many teachers simply do not have the wherewithal to effectively deal with the cultural differences that naturally exists between themselves and their students. After all, teachers are only people; Mere mortals and life can condition them to have prejudices and preconceived notions about Black people just like anyone else. However, when this spills over into the classroom, teacher-student conflict can easily contaminate the learning environment.
This is why I believe that discipline is of the utmost importance. A well behaved student can make the difference in how the teacher relates to him, her and their peers. When our children are not busy living up to the negative stereotypes, it’s a lot harder for the facilitator to justify his or her prejudiced attitudes and behaviors. Classroom management can be organized and structured around pathways for successful learning which is inclusive of all students.
Parents, please encourage your learner to use their manners and the “home training” that we work so hard to instill within them. Remind them that is our onus as parents to advocate on their behalf when conflict arises. If the child is in a position where they feel they must self-advocate, teach them to do so assertively yet politely until the adult care-giver can intervene. Not only does this show the teacher that the child is valued and supported, it reinforces to the child that they are safe and protected. It also helps to preserve balance in the classroom as no teacher will take being undermined or disrespected lightly which can lead to burned bridges even if the conflict was encouraged by the teacher to begin with. This can lead to a myriad of BS which ultimately distracts from learning.
With September fast approaching, set aside some time to sit down with your child and talk about the expectations that you have for them in terms of their performance, attitude, citizenship and behavior within the school environment. Having an open dialogue and establishing parameters for their conduct and deportment can help to better prepare them mentally as well as alleviate any uncertainty they might have toward their role in the classroom and that of the figures of authority they will have to deal with every day.
Back to school preparation is about us as much as it’s about them. Help them to establish goals, milestones and objectives for the new school year. Nurture their ambition, I promise you, it will help you to not only support their educational needs, it may save you some really nasty headaches down the road. It’s ok, you can trust me because I’m speaking from my own experience as an educator and as a parent.
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
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.
- 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.
Light reflected is enlightenment infinite.
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.