Just before Christmas (2018), my wife and I learned that a White boy at my 10-year-old daughter’s middle school called her a “nigger.” Not only did this boy feel comfortable hurling this racial epithet at my daughter and her two Black friends (one male, one female), he also Googled the word on his phone and demanded (albeit unsuccessfully) that they read the definition.
My wife and I live in Mamaroneck, NY, a small suburban town, approximately 30 minutes from New York City by train. The school my daughter attends (Hommocks Middle School) is located in the Village of Larchmont; it is the district’s only middle school. According to Bloomberg (2018), Larchmont ranks as the fourth wealthiest place in New York and the 24th wealthiest place in the United States. It has also been recognized by various magazines as being in the top 20, on the list of the 100 best places to live in the United States. Like other Black and Brown parents who live here, we chose Mamaroneck thinking that our children would be safe, receive a great education and benefit from the kinds of opportunities that our parents were unable to provide for us, given our positively supportive yet very interesting upbringing in the Bronx during the 1980s’ crack era.
S1E1: Emotional Intelligence. Special thanks to Greg for being our guest today. Thanks also to Anthony, Erica, Kayson, Lorraine and Tamika for sharing their stories about Greg’s super power. If you like the music, go check out Jeff Kaale, on Soundcloud. This song is titled “That Day.” Remember, not all super heroes wear capes!
Marc Lamont Hill’s “Nobody” is a transparent and brave assessment of America’s stance towards individuals primarily of Black and Brown descent, with a few exceptions where he qualifies his comments to include others (like Whites) who are fighting for justice on behalf of the vulnerable. The book is organized around six themes, each evaluating racial disenfranchisement from a unique lens, punctuated by a final lens that alludes to society’s growing rebuke of the previous six themes. In short, each theme takes a poignant look at the phenomena of race, racial aggression and the systemic targeting of minorities by the American society and social structures. Hill uses a variety of current events to illustrate the presence of these themes in society with brief history lessons to further explain the context. Although I found Hill’s effort to be thoughtful, passionate and well organized, I was underwhelmed by the passivist tone of the book. I have organized my response under two sub-headings abbreviated here as “Not Human” and “Mindless Trust Consigned to Those with Power.”
As practitioners, we know that schools struggle to get to consensus among staff, even regarding the most mundane of issues. Certainly decisions can be made unilaterally, but we all agree that buy-in and collaboration make for a better learning environment among adults and ultimately for students. While we think that every school should implement culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) in mathematics, that does not realistically represent the views and perspectives all schools and all staff. As a result, we are seeking to help schools answer the question: Should we implement CRP in mathematics?
In this brilliant short film, the lives of two teenagers, both on the path to an ivy league university, intersect and are interrupted by events that alter their future permanently. They each come from differing backgrounds, yet their paths cross in a powerful way. As you watch, think about the characters and each of their respective journeys. Short film by Theshay West. Music score by David Martin. © Copyright 2013, 2014. Film contains mature content/language/situations. Not suggested for viewers under the age of 13.
In January, 2017, my family and I watched the movie Hidden Figures about “three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world (http://www.google.com).” During the movie, I was so impressed by the life lessons being taught – and the application of those lessons for my two young daughters – that I quickly grabbed my phone to jot down a few of them.
Reading an entire book can seem like a big task. Not to worry, although this book has several chapters, all but one are very short. Most people will be able to read this entire book in under fifteen minutes.
Recently, I was ecstatic to discover a fun and exciting tool/writing genre (Literacy Autobiographies) that administrators can use with teachers (and teachers can use with students) to bring attention to the personal importance and impact of literacy, by exploring one's social history through their journey of becoming a reader and writer or any other mode of literacy they so choose (e.g. listening or speaking). In general these narratives call out and allow both the author and reader an incredible opportunity to think about and consider significant events that contributed to the author's development as a literate person (reader, writer, speaker, listener). This book will tell my story and hopefully inspire you to write your own.
In the United States, there is no greater cherished right than that of voting. Although there are many other facets to civics and citizenship, one’s right to vote is seen as sacrosanct and central not only to the idea of American citizenship but as foundational to the function of democracy as we know it. I was recently challenged to identify an issue related to civic education and develop a project by which to address it. For this reason, the issue/question I chose was: “Should we teach civics courses in school?” Rather than assume that there is one correct answer, this project (a simulation) sought to provoke thought by challenging the thinking of participants. As referenced previously, although civics and citizenship is multifaceted, this project probed participants’ thinking by centering primarily on voting as a primary mechanism for seeking change.
Recently, the United States concluded the presidential election process. The outcome was the unlikely and very controversial election of Donald Trump as president. I, like many others across the world, watched in awe, as the voting results were confirmed and eventually, Hillary Clinton conceded the election. Over and over, both citizens and media alike asked, “How did this happen?” Unlike some, I did not consider the question to be rhetorical. As I mentally replayed Mr. Trump’s path to victory, again and again I noted the consistent narrative of those who supported him. At rallies, in interviews and in commercials, Trump supporters repeatedly retold their personal stories, their narrative of simply being heard and understood. In the book Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind, Costa and Kallick describe what they call 16 essential characteristics for success. These characteristics – Habits of Mind – provide a better understanding of the ways in which intelligent people approach their work and lives in general. One Habit of Mind, which spoke profoundly to me, was Listening with Understanding and Empathy. I believe this Habit of Mind is the most important of those asserted in the book.
The phrase "stay woke" has grown particularly popular over the last few years. Individuals and organizations that use the phrase do so in an effort to encourage others to heighten their cultural and racial awareness amidst the rising and ever more troubling conversations around race, discrimination and disproportionality in America. Given the national conversation, I thought I would post the notes I jotted down while watching Part Two of a documentary titled: "Race: The Power of an Illusion". The video has three parts; only part two is posted above. I encourage everyone to watch the documentary in its entirety.
In 2012, I founded a career and technical high school in the poorest congressional district in the nation, with lots of support from the New York City Depatment of Education, the community, industry partners and a dedicated and talented planning team. I am very proud of the work we accomplished! Take a look at the school's documercial and a few quotables from those who were there to see it happen.