Friday, August 22, 2014

"...Blood on the Leaves and Blood at the Root..."

They have no more right to use guns as whips and arms as ropes than the lynched have to lynch those who are equally oppressed.

What has caused more damage? Police brutality or minority on minority crime? I expect for fear and ignorance to drive bigotry. What one doesn't understand holds no value! So what has caused our brown people to have so much fear and a lack of self-understanding that there is a disregard for their own? A complete lack of value for their mirror image?

We cannot expect anyone to value what we ourselves disregard. "Their" ignorance coupled with our own makes for a very strange fruit! The young brown male/female partaking in the knockout game and/or fire challenge (odd and mindless displays of misguided and wasted energy), the lowly brown pusher (who ensures his race's destruction and an oppressor's monetary gain), the intellectual brown individual who's more concerned with displaying academic prowess than in uplifting his/her own, the flashy brown cat whose outwardly appearance contradicts his meager means. The brown hoodlum who willingly targets and lays waste to his own. All are very strange fruit!

We have ALL accepted the blue pill in some degree; whether we've swallowed the pill whole or in part, the digestion has filled us with misconceptions and illusions. Years of blatant oppression, followed by systems of control (i.e. Jim Crow Laws, Affirmative Action, No Child Left Behind etc.--I know some of you are now reading with raised brows, but I will elaborate momentarily), have eroded our senses. After the abolition of slavery, the Reconstruction era provided a glimpse of hope, just a glimpse. There was a degree of equal footing, our brown people saw social and political change but then the fear and ignorance crescendoed and so began a people's (a collective) descent. Despite the advent of Jim Crow, the momentary promise of Reconstruction contributed to a broader world view. The pill wasn't swallowed, at least not entirely. There was a grace, a dignity, with which our brown people carried themselves (a grace that is lost on today's brown youth, the majority of whom revel in embarrassing displays of life-threatening games and pranks, inappropriate attire and language, and no respect for those who have preceded them); after Jim Crow, a very obvious system of oppression, there had to be something that was more evasive, something that was guaranteed to break the solidarity of a people and, in so doing, weaken the spirit.

The equal footing that Reconstruction promised, leveled the playing field between the favored and unfavored within a race, as well. Affirmative Action all but guaranteed that the field would yet again become uneven by elevating a select view and No Child Left Behind (an iteration of the Education and Secondary Education Act of 1965) does the same in reverse, ironically. The aim is to support the educational equity of kids from poor and marginalized families/neighborhoods. The school funding and subsequent interventions that are provided often go to the those at the lower tier while the 3's and 4's, especially 4's, are left behind to fend for themselves (yet they too are in need of support to ensure the all too elusive "educational equity"). These systems caused an unidentified caste system. Theoretically speaking, a caste system is merely a means of segregating a people. Jim Crow created a dichotomy between two races and the systematic forms of oppression that followed merely ensured that the dichotomy would remain by segmenting a race through "opportunities" afforded to a select few, solidarity and spirits, thus, broken.

I am disgusted by the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Shawn Bell etc., especially since their lives were unjustly taken by those who are supposed to protect and serve. I am just as outraged when I hear of a young brown man,woman, teen, or child whose life is unjustly taken by their own.

As Lady Day crooned, "Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck[.] For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck[.] For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop[.] Here is a strange and bitter crop."

It seems so fitting a description. The crows have blatantly and latently plucked for quite sometime, but our roots hadn't betrayed us. Unfortunately, our roots are no longer as strong. What's worse is that the crows know it!

We need our own ALS (Anti-lynching System) Challenge. I wonder what this challenge should look like. What would our buckets contain? The amount of folks who've participated in the ALS challenge to date, have collectively donated millions to a worthy cause. Isn't the eradication of a people's fear and the promotion of self-understanding just as worthy? Very strange fruit!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Happy mothers day to all the great moms who stand by their children's sides no matter what! A "day" isn't nearly enough of an thank you.

To my mommy,

You are gone but not forgotten. There are times that I wish you were here, but I honestly feel your presence every day.  For the most part, I think that you would be proud of all that both your children and grands have accomplished. We continue to embrace who we are without reservation and make every effort to be there for each other in times of need. Thank you for every day that you provided motherly guidance, wiped a tear, nursed us to good health, prepared a meal, cleaned, and simply loved us.  Thank you for being you no matter what the circumstance or situation.

Happy Mothers Day, Clara May.

Say Something...

You better say say something… cause I’m gonna give up on you.

I’m on the verge. I would have wholeheartedly followed you, but now I do not know what i’d do. I’m swallowing my pride. You know that I love you, but I am no man’s fool.   You better say something cause I am about to give up on you.

I’m tired of both your pretense and mine.

You better say something… cause I’m gonna give up on you.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Woke up Flawed ...

I was recently slapped in the face!  Call me idealistic, but I misjudged the allure of self-improvement to those who have been disenfranchised.  In an effort to address the needs of my school’s parents (and the community at large), I both conceptualized and scheduled a Health & Wellness Series, consisting of the following workshops, to which all interested adults can attend:

February 12th 2014
Eating Healthy on a Budget
(Plus food & mood, asthma and diabetes)
Provided by Renaissance Healthcare Network

February 26th  2014
Asthma Workshop 
(General triggers)
Provided by A.I.R. Harlem/A.I.R. Bronx

March 5th 2014
Financial Literacy
(Make the most of your money)
Provided by Food Bank of New York

March 12th 2014
Behavior Management 
(Effective childrearing methods)
Provided by PS 30M’s Guidance Dept.

March 19th 2014
Provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act
(Obama Care)
Provided by The Children’s Defense Fund

Outreach was conducted: backpacked flyers, school messenger, one-on-one calls by a CLS Parent Committee, neighborhood flyer distribution and postings, an outreach collaboration with the other co-located DOE school, yet only 13 parents attended; we have roughly 300 students in the school.  I felt defeated.  In a last-ditch effort to recruit additional parents, both the pre-k guidance counselor and I went to the school lobby to enlist some additional parents to attend.  My school is not merely co-located with another DOE school but also one of several Success Academies (Eva Moskowitz’s network of charter schools). 

I hate to admit this, but the charter school parents where happy to attend the workshop while parents of my school expressed little to no interest, even when personally approached.  There is no distinction in socio-economic status! The charter school parents who agreed to attend resided in the neighborhood, as do the majority my school’s parents, yet there was a desire that they possessed that some of my parents lacked.

It was a disheartening revelation that honestly made me lose a degree of faith. My job is to turn my school into a hub of the community to the extent that the hurdles that hinder academic success are lessened if not completely eliminated. This requires the identification of those needs, whether they are mental, physical, or emotional health assistance, and the subsequent enlistment of local services/programs that address these needs, which honestly go beyond the child. A child’s ability to learn is impacted by his/her environment, which includes the home and community.  Thus, the Community Learning School (CLS) Initiative requires me to also identify and answer the needs of students’ parents and community members, which is an aim of the Health & Wellness Series.

But what do I do when the very thing that my parents deem is needed, is also the very thing that they disregard? I now realize that it isn’t merely a matter of identifying the need, I most also contend with a flawed mentality before I can really spur change.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Writer's Nightmare (Sometime in October 2013)

There is this pain in my wrist. My right hand suffers from an occasional numbing sensation and an ache between my thumb and pointer finger with rather persistent wrist pain.  My years are catching up with me, so I attributed the pain to the woes of aging...

I purchased a wrist/arm brace to combat the pain and continued with my regular routine: recruiting (and carrying material to do so), writing, editing...

Then about two weekends ago, while I was heading to work, I noticed that my hand hurt a bit more than usual. It progressed to the point that I wasn't able to correct my students' papers.  I slid the papers toward them and handed them a pencil advising them to read aloud so that I can help them catch the mistakes. Normally, I make corrections while we read together but my hand hurt like heck, and I couldn't really move it.

On my way home, my hand was throbbing and by the time I made it to my apartment, my hand had began to swell. The pain was unbearable and the swelling was accompanied by a persistent throbbing. It was late and since I live alone and had no one to call, I opted to wait until the morning before heading to Urgent Care (City MD).  Sleeping was difficult and as the swelling grew, I couldn't handle the pain.  I cried until I fell asleep.

The morning came, and I quickly showered while holding my hand; it was now double its normal size.  It hurt so badly that I believed I had broken it. I cried on the ferry, then on the train; all the while I securely held my injured right hand in the left.

The doctor advised me that I had nerve damage. My eyes widened at the news. I was a victim of the Carpal's infamous tunnel, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  This condition has sense progressed to include tendinitis in my lower thumb and a sporadic twinge that travels from my wrist and up my arm.

Now, writing has taken on a whole new meaning. It is truly a labor of love...

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Look to the right. Right there. Your right. The right of the screen your viewing now. Yup. Now do me a huge favor, click on that ad. Any ad that you want. Just click it. Don't actually buy anything. Just click the ad. You know you want to... so click it.


My mother always told me to be mindful of who I call a friend.  Folks often call acquaintances or associates friends without considering what a friend really is.  So, what is a friend?

I have been fortunate enough to have friends who have provided the shoulders upon which I have cried, who have been honest even when the truth hurt like hell, who are ready with the getaway car, black masks, and machetes, who have encouraged me to take risks, who have told me to just be easy and who, after weeks or even months of little to no conversation, manage to nestle themselves into my life as if no time had lapsed.

I have observed as others have taken their friendships for granted, foolishly allowing long lasting bonds to break under the weight of their own pride or haughtiness.  Granted friends can grow apart; there are also instances in which a friendship can be unhealthy; give some thought to the dissolution of your friendships and consider if it was really worth letting go.   

Blessed But...

It sucks when you love someone yet realize that it would never work out. I have been so blessed and am so grateful and receptive to every gift that God has bestowed upon me.

A position that is tailor-made for my interest and expertise has been offered and accepted, setting me on the career path that I desire with the compensation to boot. HE is great and has seen to it that even more freelance opportunities have come my way. Though I have plenty of folks to share the news with, there is just one individual who I really want to tell.

I couldn’t understand why there was this lack of satisfaction, like something was missing. A very wise man shared his thoughts and then I understood. Success is wonderful when shared.

What’s weird is that I now know the difference. I know how it feels to be accepted completely and loved without doubt or reservation, to the degree that an individual willingly endures the pain of another’s shadow. How selfless! This is what love is supposed to be, selfless, committed, resilient, and brave! I would never think of taking this for granted. It isn’t often that one finds it. Yet I know myself well enough to acknowledge the truth. I am not ready.

It is time to shake off the shackles of the past to make way for the embrace of the future but how does that really happen? The past is engrained in the very fabric of who we are. It makes us whole so it never really is that far behind us. It is always looming… an ever permeating presence.

I cannot afford to allow my past to effect my present and future as it has, so I have to do something. There is too much at stake, especially now.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Edition Coming Soon...

The rerelease date is approaching, and the cause remains as necessary today as it was 7 years ago. I challenge you to fight along side every contributor whose word's grace the pages of "And We Write: Surviving Cancer Let the Healing Begin." 

We all have been touched by cancer; whether directly or indirectly, we all know someone who has succumbed to the disease, managed to overcome it's grip, or is, as you read this very message, embarking on the fight of his or her life. 

You'll be surprised by how much one person, one solitary individual, can accomplish by one kind gesture.  The proceeds from the sale of "And We Write..." will be donated to a small nonprofit that provides counseling and support to cancer victims and their loved ones. The emotional toll that this disease takes on its victims is just as traumatic as its physical effects! So I challenge you to help all those who have, are, and will kick cancer's ass, and I challenge you to help the families who weren't as fortunate enough to win the fight. The battle, however, is far from over!  I implore you to not let all those whose lives were lost, to have been taken in vain and to aid their families' healing process. 

If you purchased the compilation before, thank you! If you haven't, then please kindly spread the word and also purchase the new edition once it becomes available. The compilation will be available in both paperback and kindle formats and contain new entries and edits.

The release date to be announced soon...xoxoxo

For Monk with love!!!! 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 29th

March 29th "Is a date that will truly 'live in infamy,' at least for me!" And We Write... Pg 40.

...but this year, I almost forgot!  I almost forgot that on the 29th of March, exactly 7 years ago, is when I had received the call! If it wasn't for a sibling who was actually one day too early, it wasn't the 28th but the 29th, with the date, I may not not have remembered at all. I did awaken yesterday morning with an all too familiar sadness.  I suppose that my internal alarm clock went off a little later than normal, but my body still innately knew.  And We Write... Pg 40.

I cannot speak for my siblings, mom! But you were an awesome mother and friend whose words of wisdom are greatly missed. You managed to see the bright side of every situation.  I apologize for the oversight. It is horrible that I allowed my own musings to consume my thoughts. It will not happen again, mommy!

I broke a promise, mom, but I always make good on my word! Whenever I set my mind on something, you know that it will be accomplished. The book will reappear with edits, additional entries composed by the Bennetts and one Ms. Wilson, and it will also be available in Kindle format in the coming months! Life threw me a hurtle, but I think that I am bouncing back nicely! You always said that God closes one door so that he can open another or even several; you were right because several opportunities have presented themselves to me. Even a door that I thought was closed for good has reopened. I am truly blessed and grateful. 

Thank you, mom, for being you no matter what and for helping me to grow into the woman who I am. I only had you for 26 years but you did so much within our brief time together and I know you are still with me. I feel your presence everyday...

From Shell Ann to Monk :)