Friday, April 7, 2017

Parents Just Don't Understand

"You know parents are the same. No matter time nor place. They don't understand that us kids are going to make some mistakes. So to you, all the kids all across the land there's no need to argue, parents just don't understand!" - Fresh Prince of Bel Air - Will Smith 

Being a part of a team that changed the game in how we engaged communities and families in Atlanta has been simply amazing. There have been many lessons learned along the way that I believe truly helps parents and students find their voices and reaffirms the community's role in helping students find success. 

Parenting is such a critical aspect of life. Parents influence how we learn, live, play, process things, interact with others, develop, grow and ultimately succeed in life. So you can image how much more difficult these critical things become for children who experience the death, separation of or absence of their parent(s). 

Students, teachers, school leaders, advocates, communities, even elected officials are asking where are the parents? It's true. Recent meetings about stopping school closings have been heavily attended by Atlanta residents, alumni, community organizations, students but very few parents. In fact, many would argue that the common denominator between failing schools, the school to prison pipeline, defiant behaviors in schools and communities are parents. Everyone is asking, where are the parents?

Most would agree that parents are our children’s first educator. In fact, major influences after parents are our families and communities. The role of parents and adults raising school aged children is critical. Parent and family engagement is a nationwide dilemma, causing us to ask why more parents aren’t actively present and engaged in schools. The overarching focus has been the search for the masses of parents that represent the numbers of children being suspended, expelled, labeled as failing, being pushed in special education or remedial programs and ultimately being failed in schools. I would like to challenge educational leaders, advocates and stakeholders to consider the ways that parents are connecting to the academic success of their students and how can we empower them where they are to help build more effective successful pathways for all students.

What are some ways that parents are involved?

1.     Registering children for school
2.     Getting children to school
3.     Ensuring students have uniforms
4.     Completing paperwork
5.    Signing off on homework/projects
6.  Volunteering

These areas may seem small for those who don't struggle with shelter and homelessness, economic
      challenges but getting your child(ren) to school safely is one of the most intimate times between children and parents, especially for those parents who battle extreme circumstances effecting livelihood, safety and security of their family. 

How can school Districts be more intentional about engaging and empowering parents?
By hearing and helping parents find their voices
. By supporting parents and families Pre K - 12 
. Providing communication in a timely manner 
. Providing transportation to school and District family engagement events 
. Providing child care at APTT, parent teacher conference days, enrollment days and report card/curriculum nights

One thing that would help parents become more engaged is the school's intentional family engagement program design that helps all families find success. Engagement is not a cookie cutter program designed for just happy and positive moments. Intentional engagement of families causes us to look at what does success look like for all families and the barriers that prevent it? How can schools and school Districts help the parents they serve find success so that the students we serve are successful? Too often success is tied to a standardized test, the number of parents who attend a workshop or the amount of monies donated or fund-raised for the school. It's not that parents just don't understand, it may be that we don't quite understand parenting and families the way that we think we do. 

Engagement is a two way street! 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Making America Great Again

Making America Great Again
Why Race Still Matters in America

Making America requires us to expose the sickness in America that doesn’t allow us to be civil or united in order to have liberty and justice for all. The notion of making American great again calls us back to periods in our history that our nasty, ugly, hateful and not great for many citizens of this country. 

Before and after the Presidency of Barack Obama highlights why race still matters in America. An awakening of racial and cultural hatred displayed against not just Blacks but Brown and mixed raced citizens in this country grew. Police brutality and racial profiling has always been a problem in America. It did not just start under President Obama, it was escalated with the advance technology of social media. 

Just in recent news, the white woman who accused Emmitt Till of whistling and making sexual advances at her admitted that she lied. A jury let off the officers who confessed and told exactly how they killed this young, Black boy in cold blood. It’s like hitting the reset button on all of the racial and cultural mishaps that have caused racial tensions to worsen in America with recent cases. Justifying the injustice of Police Officers who are to serve and protect yet killing unarmed Black and Brown citizens with Black on Black or Brown on Brown crime is ludicrous. For many Black and Brown citizens, it’s like watching the not guilty verdicts of Police Officers who have shot down unarmed, Black and Brown citizens in America over the years become the new era of Jim Crow and segregation. 

When we take a closer look at homelessness, poverty that is generational, lack of economic and community development, educational inequality, the school to prison pipeline and health disparity in this country, a large number of Black, Brown and to go further, racial disparity within other minority groups including LGBT, Muslim, Islanders, etc., citizens of darker complexions are still disproportionate.

After we witnessed the murders of Medger Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. King and so many of this age, Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner, Oscar Grant, Tamar Rice… the narrative of making America Great Again hasn’t changed. We’ll work to make America great again after tragedies that have torn us apart, only to keep us separate and unequal. Here’s a wake-up call America. We can keep telling the same story, but we’ll keep working to change how the story ends. 

As Nina Simone said in an interview, ask us year from now how we feel about Civil Rights and if we'll still be fighting for them. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Queen Sugar

OWN's Queen Sugar encourages us to...

- Evaluate and embrace family and culture
- Discuss succession plans
- Support family businesses and ownership

Family has always been the center of our culture from Africa to America. Here's how we can begin to repair and build our family structure

FAMILY - Evaluation and Acceptance

We have too many children that are in the streets because the family of the father and/or mother won't take care of them. Our children are our investment. We have to rear and nurture them because if we don't the streets and system have their arms wide open.

Mental illnesses, disabilities, variances in sexuality and isms (alcohol, etc) have to be acknowledge, accepted in love and evaluated with wisdom so that the family can be stronger not weaker because of missing links. We have to dispel the myth of throwing away the misfits when the reality is, we've all been culturally made to be misfits because of the color of our skin.

SUCCESSION PLANS - Who got next?

Do we have life insurance for our elders and children? Does mom and dad, big mama and papa have a will in place? We have to master our business in order to master our next level. Talent and gifts alone won't insure that our children as well as ourselves are taken care of after succession takes place. Death is a part of life that we can't control; however, we can plan effectively. College savings bonds, insurance policies, business plans, home and property ownership are the best holiday gifts anyone can have to give.

BUSINESS - All in the Family

I have learned that the power of having a family owned business is powerful. Of course there are challenges and difficult times to go through, but if there's a entrepreneur(s) within the family, suppor them. Help them to reach their highest level of potential and success. Ownership is key to helping Black and Brown families survive and thrive in America. Support our businesses, help them to grow, hold them accountable and invest in their future. Their success is our success.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Unapologetic America

Dear America,

I've learned from history and my own story that power, money and respect are always at the root of evil. That the foundation of anything built out on hatred will constantly be at war with itself fighting the need to be empowered and the desire to gain it by any means necessary. I understand the privilege that certain citizens of this county are afforded. It's not all about race, but race does matter! Everything has a place and a purpose. America has designed herself to control any and everything because that's how you capitalize on power.

America hasn't issued a true apology to Native Americans or African Americans. This country's foundation is built on the reality that natives were destroyed and foreigners were enslaved on this very land that since it's newly formed founders landed has continued to destroy and enslave innocent people. We have systems from healthcare, to education, to law enforcement that do more to maintain the order of the system than to build and save lives. A system that by design alienates and separates us by  race, religion, gender, sexuality, political beliefs, economic status or education. We are constantly fighting to be free in a country that tells us we are free based on it's definition of freedom.

Why can't we question pledging allegiance to a flag, to a constitution that doesn't serve, protect and afford freedom to all? Why do we continue to follow what the media drives us to believe? The systems of this country have conditioned us to be dependent on the system; technology, degrees, social acceptance, money and positions that we lose focus on true freedom.

Freedom has limitations but should never be implemented without Love, respect and equity. The fact that we've had to live through movements for civil rights, human rights, women's rights, LGBT rights and the list goes on, proves that if America was designed for all to be free; we would.

If we are still fighting the same battles from decades past in this country, it goes to show that even in progression, the power of beliefs will drive people to either choose hatred or love. Only one will win. Dear America, which one will we choose?

#LoveWins #LoveOverHate

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Single Blues

Life teaches us to race against time to have a complete life with someone else. It's the notion that in order to be accomplished, happy, complete... we have to have someone as our girlfriend or boyfriend as early as grade school. Society portrays that in order for us to truly be successful, we have to have someone on our arms. It seems as if we are constantly racing from having a serious relationship in dating, courting and seeking the person we hope to spend the rest of our lives happily together. When do we truly take time to love ourselves? To fall in love with who we are.

I can admit, it's quite uncomfortable at times not having someone to accompany you to events, go to the movies with, double date with friends and most importantly build a life together. Then we have to ask ourselves, am I confined by the thoughts and ideas of others for my life? There are so many people who are in relationships to please their families and other people that they are miserable. People who find themselves not able to be themselves because they are making decisions to make others happy at the expense of their happiness. 

We have to master how to fuel our purpose more than desires. It begins focusing on the path of success you're traveling in order to be the best you. Don't get stuck in depression because you feel like you aren't living up to society's expectations. Our lives were designed beyond the imagination of man. Besides, we cannot truly be happy with someone if we aren't even happy with ourselves. Regardless if you'r working to be off the market or not, the first thing we have to do is ensure that we're marketable. We should look at ourselves and say, that's someone I'd want to be with. It starts within first. If we don't see our worth, we can't expect others to value it. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Birth of a Nation

Your vote, each vote does matter! In this country,  we have a pattern of not fixing what's broken and making it work for all. The film "Birth of Nation" bring so much relevance to what the United States is dealing with now especially with this Election. Below are 10 valid reasons why D.W. Griffith's The Clansman also known as Birth of A Nation and Nate Parker's remake of "Birth of A Nation" are relevant today. Freedom will never ring in America when we're still advocating for . . . 

#1 - Equal Rights 

#2 - Unbiased Justice System

#3 - Black Lives Matters

#4 - Women Rights Matters

#5 - Latino Lives Matters

#6 - Muslim Lives Matters

#7 - LGBT Lives Matters

#8 - Equal Economic Opportunities

#9 - Affordable Healthcare 

#10 - Equitable Education System 

If you're asking why does my vote matter, these are 10 reasons for you to consider. More importantly how we hold our leaders and ourselves accountable will determine the true change needed in America. 

Justice for some, isn't justice for all. A victory for a few isn't a win for many. Leadership influences on all levels influences action. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I'm Sorry

Perspective is key! We cannot simply go by our perspective alone. We are one being a world of billions of other beings who may not think, look, sound, react, plan, create or interpret things the same ways that we do. In fact, that's the power of our beings and life. There can be one Earth, but billions of people who live in it differently, who take care of it differently, who use it differently. I would even think that there's one God, that billions of people across the world worship and acknowledge differently. Languages are different, the way that we cook, prepare and eat foods are different . . . the power in perspective is that if forces everyone's ideas, ways of thinking and living to be at the table.
It's the things behind our actions; motive, intent, emotion, mindset that people don't see, that shape perspectives but what they feel are the results of our actions that leave imprints on the heart. I'm sorry doesn't make you weaker. I'm sorry simple acknowledges that hey, I see you don't agree with, like or embrace my way of thinking or feelings in the same way so I'm sorry if it offends, disrespects or overlooks your thoughts. I'm sorry doesn't make you less powerful, thoughtful or meaningful. It just makes you conscience minded and aware of the others persons perspective.

To the Kindergarten classmate who tried to take my lunch and found out the hard way that homie don't play that . . . I'm sorry.

To the little girl in 4th grade with a ringworm on her cheek who became the laughing stock of our class for two weeks . . . I'm sorry.

To the all the teachers who thought I was being difficult and disrupting class when I was really trying to school them about Atlanta history . . . I'm sorry.

To all the innocent people caught in to the political systems of this world who did nothing but simply wake up, brown, black, red, yellow or indifferent in societies that don't embrace your perspective or being . . . I'm sorry.

To all those who have taken actions of mine out of context or mistaken my good for evil. . . I'm sorry.

When you understand power, you realize that people who know how to use it don't tear others down or disrespect them, they use it to change their perspective.