The Most important project you’ve ever done

Note- My peeps who want a new world order and to tear everything down. Just disregard. It won’t hurt my feelings. I know some people are beyond reach. Their fear of the “other” has turbed to inexcusable hate. They are to be called out and left to God. Note I’m also not saying that people who still need time to process or be afraid or upset expedite that process. This is for the people who are ready to try and make a purple from this red and blue mess.

I tend to use a lot of education metaphors to relate to situations because it is what I do for a living, and there are very few life scenarios that didn’t play out in a classroom before. Take the current national climate. To say we’re not on the same page would be an understatement. And to say we just need to unify is glib. But allow me to present a scenario played out in many a classroom that may help here.

Teachers always hesitate to assign group projects because it never fails that in one of your groups you’ll have two students who hate each other. It was at one point so bad that they couldn’t even be in the same classes together, but now they just sit on opposite sides of the room.  And here they are, having to work together. And no one really knows what started the beef in the first place. So in the beginning, it’s a rocky start, they never talk, and when they do talk they argue. One day it almost gets physical, and you keep the 2 of them after school for detention. When they serve it, you tell them straight up, they’re both about to get a failing grade because they refuse to cooperate, something neither one of them can afford. So, you make them sit and explain where this all started. Turns out (as it usually does in cases like this) there was a person behind the scenes stirring the pot for the sake of drama. Neither side would have done what they did if it wasn’t for her and her nonsense. Both sides apologize, and have a good working relationship for their project. But then, a funny thing happened along the way, The two of them continue to talk, and barriers come down, they continue to work together and as the project develops, so does a friendship. Finally, the day comes where they turn in the project….together. It’s the perfect collaboration of both students input and learning styles, but a new thing into itself. The teacher loves it, and gives them an A. But even better, two kids who never should have been fighting anyway finally become friends.

Now, extend the metaphor to our current political state. We’ve been given a group project, and right now, class tensions are at an all time high because SGA elections were last week. The president ended up being this new kid who was really brash and rude to anyone who wasn’t in FCA. In fact, she basically promised FCA they’d get the best yearbook photo spot, their own parking spaces, and she would tell the principal to allow a member to pray on the morning announcements. There was this cool guy from up north in the running for a while, but no one knew how he was going to pay for the Chick Fil A every Friday he promised, and no one was willing to pay for it on their lunch account. But the main opponent was the girl who had been an SGA officer and vice president before, but the kids felt like she was more of the same, and that fight during her SGA event that ended up on world star wasn’t a good look either. And all these kids are in the same class and obviously, they don’t like each other that much right now. So, the challenge is, working on this project together and sitting down and asking each other, “Why are you beefing with me?” ,and then, address it, apologize and get back to work so we can create an awesome project that’s a mixture of both of us, or else we’re going to fail.




Ebony’s “Open Letter” series: Cosby Defenders

Ok….Guys, listen to me and hear me out. Look, I loved the Cosby Show growing up like almost everyone else in America, and I was quite disappointed that college wasn’t like “A Different World” was (it may have been if I went to an HBCU, but Hardaway was as close to Bayside High School as you could get, and it was no SBTB). I also know that the American Justice system also has not tipped its scales in favor of her more heavily melinated less wealthy citizens. With ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, I don’t know if any of you know sexual assault victims. I do, and a lot of them don’t ever discuss what happened to them, because of, well, because of how some of you have reacted in this case. They are tired of having their character on trial (“well, why didn’t you call the police”, “That happened so long ago.) We sadly still have this conception in our minds that women have to be bruised, bloodied, with torn clothes for an assault to have occurred.  And maybe some of you are thinking of cases where you said yes after those glasses of wine (or gave a young lady a few drinks to “set the mood). Your inhibitions should not have to be lowered for sexual activity, and if a young lady would refuse your advances sober and lucid, that doesn’t mean you change those states to sleep with her (Which is what Cosby did BY HIS OWN ADMISSION), you didn’t get real consent. That’s why it is called “consensual sex”, because you wanna do it. But, even if the now 60 women are all making this up in some massive smear campaign to extort money or “distract us from the real issues”. This man was married, and when people get married they take these things called vows, where they basically promise in front of God (if they Believe) and their family and friends to do things like love, honor and cherish their future spouse for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death separates them… Another key vow……FORSAKING ALL OTHERS, meaning, you are faithful and only commit to that person. Even if Cosby didn’t violate those women (which I believe he did)….he violated the vows he made to his wife Camille, and to God. Yes he is a succcessful black man, yes, he was “America’s father”, yes he donated millions to colleges, but as we know from history some of our greatest heroes actually were villains in their era. Thomas Jefferson wrote The Constitution, he also raped one of his slaves for decades. Ghandi was a civil rights leader and a believer of Civil Disobedience, he was also racist and a pedophile. Beautiful products can come from horrible producers, and “good” people often do horrible things and use philanthropy to cover it up. And William H. Cosby is not and has NEVER been Dr. Cliff Huxtable, that man was a character on TV. And don’t bring up Woody Allen or Stephen Collins or Charlie Sheen, this isn’t about THEM. And as many a mother has said “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, does that mean you should too?” So because those guys are creeps that gives Cosby a pass? That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. And lastly, think of the women in your life. Your wife, your mother, your daughter, your sister. If this happened to them, would you want them dismissed? Would you want people assuming they’re gold diggers? Would you want people to say they were making it up? I would hope not. Look, if you want to watch all the shows he produced or his old comedy specials, be my guest. But don’t make him the victim here. Because he’s not. If the court of law tries and acquits him in this current case, then it is what it is, and he will be left with the court of public opinion. But, while there are miscarriages of justice for Black men in the court of law, this is not one of them. If you can’t let “Dr. Huxtable” go, fine. But don’t make him the victim here. Save your empathy for people who deserve it.



An open invitation: Can tact come out to play?

Hello everyone,
     There’s someone that I would like you to meet. His name is tact. According to
adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues”
synonyms: diplomacy, tactfulness, sensitivity, understanding, thoughtfulness, consideration, delicacy, discretion, prudence, judiciousness, subtlety.
        Now, people will look at the word “sensitivity” and think I am referring to tact’s less rational cousin, “political correctness”, who doesn’t want anyone to say anything at all. But tact is more than sensitivity, look at the synonyms. Thoughtfulness, consideration, understanding, discretion. Being “PC” is about not saying something for fear of offense. And because we as a society have been told not to say this or tjos word is improper, now we’re just saying what we want, when we want, to who we want. And, where has that gotten us? Friendships ended, relationships damaged because we were tired of being “sensitive” so we stopped being “considerate”. That is where tact comes in. Political correctness stops you before you can speak so in frustration you scream. Tact is how to say it so the dialogue can continue. Another key point to the definition of tact is that it is crucial for difficult discussions. The 2010’s seem to be nothing but a decade of  difficult discussions. And people think the answer is to use the correct terms, but it is not that, it is never been about that. It’s HOW you speak, not what you say when you speak. We have a lot of talking to do as a country, but because we don’t know how to speak and listen, all we’re doing is barking at each other, and bullying and barking at a person has never swayed them to your side. Consider the following:
      How can I believe you want my community to better itself and improve when you refer to members of it as “animals”. ?
      How can I expect you to understand the intersectionality of privilege and prejudice that is unfair to everyone when all I do is tell post news articles basically saying “White people are evil and must be destroyed”?
       How can I feel welcome in your place of worship or to seek the God I hear is so loving when His followers hate me?
      How can I get you to understand that even as an ally, and despite the wounds of the church, to mock and scoff faith is wrong too?
       How can we understand that as a society we won’t see eye to eye on these issues, but that it isn’t the end of the world, and we can all simply agree to disagree peacefully? Because I gotta tell you, “all or nothing” has left us just that, nothing. And that’s ok too. Having remnants of a bygone era is to be expected. And YOU have prejudices, yes YOU. So do I, we all do. You’re not the scum of the earth for it. You just need some education. To treat a difference as a deficit is wrong, but to deny the existence of differences is no better. To let the media feed you a narrative of “racist cops” and “out of control savages” instead of realizing the divisive bias is aimed at getting you to tune in and stay partially informed is wrong. So, I ask you, when it comes to these tough conversations, instead of posting those horrible click bait blog posts by (IMHO) some of the worst journalists on earth. Go to a person, talk to them, ask them questions, and you invite my friend tact to talk with you, you might be surprised at the result.

Don’t take the (click) bait: a note on Social media interactions

I tried to browse urban dictionary for an appropriate definition of “click bait” that I could post, but there was none, so I will simply define it in my own terms. Click bait can best be defined as a blog post, or news article aimed at nothing more than increasing traffic to a website in the attempt to generate attention,  clicks, and subsequent revenue. And when you are a person who makes his/her career based on people reading what you say, you’re going to do that a lot. One of my major pet peeves about social media is that it can turn anyone into a keyboard pastor, teacher, coach, and psychiatrist and if you get enough people who agree with you, you can become a celebrity. But, I’m writing to them, I am writing to you, the potential audience.
     There is a certain Internet writer who has a large following with many of my friends, and while I can understand why, I will simply say personally that I value his use of the First Amendment to express himself and the vigor with which he writes, and leave it at that. But, there are several people who are so opposed to this person that they not only send him scathing messages and comments, they write vitriolic reactionary blogs filled with righteous indignation about how wrong and awful he is and what a pathetic excuse for a human being he is, thinking that this will stop him or change his message. The truth is, what they are doing is worse, much worse. Not only are they stooping to the level of this person, by repeatedly mentioning his name and referencing his posts in their rebuttals, they are increasing the number of hits, Google searches, tweets, and notoriety. All of which puts money into this person’s wallet, and gives them more attention. So, they are glad to let you troll on and hate blog on, because they will as T.I. brilliantly stated “let [you] hate, and watch the money pile up.”
   Now I know what you’re thinking, these bloggers just are totally clueless and are saying some crazy stuff. And that may be true, but of you want to put a stop to them, there is a simple solution. Do. Absolutely. Nothing.  Remove their name from your feed and timeline, hide any post you see, refuse to comment. Don’t take the bait, because it’s simply a trap. A lot of TV shows that people thought would be seriously controversial ended up being non issues because they were so bad that no one watched and they faded into oblivion. The same thing will happen here. Some people may still talk because they feel like they have something to say, but if the audience is not there, then they’re saying nothing, because the people are what give them their voice. So, just like that awful stand up routine you went to at that nasty bar back in college, instead of being a heckler and ending up in the act, just walk out, and as you see a group of folks on their way in, say “try another spot tonight, there’s nothing going on in there. “

“I don’t accept your apology”: An open ended letter to my friends with children.

It seems like almost every mom blogger has a post that apologizes to her friends without children for something. Be it a messy house when they come over, conversations interrupted with reminders to put that down or explaining you can’t ride the dog in the house, not being able to go out at night and last, or for being a bad friend because when your child free friend called to invite you on an impromptu girls weekend out of town, you bailed out because you couldn’t get a sitter on short notice. You explain to us you still love us and miss us and promise that you will try and do better, and beg and implore us to hang in there with you. Well, as a child free friend, consider your apology not accepted. I am not accepting it because I am a hateful, bitter hag who hates you, I am not accepting it because you have nothing to apologize for. Why are you asking for forgiveness for something you’re supposed to do, take care of your family?
       We have been in your corner since day 1, we stood by you on your wedding day, helped plan your baby shower, and shed tears at your baby dedication. We’ve bought toys and clothes and come to birthday parties looked at baby photos. We love you and your children. We understand they are a part of your life now, and one that takes up a lot of time if you do it correctly. It’s not the end of the world to me if you miss my night out in the city “just because”, but if you missed your baby’s first steps or first words because you were at Macaroni Grill enjoying a martini it would break your heart. And I know how much you love me, I see it in the FB posts you like (because you don’t have time to comment chasing little ones) or those texts out of the blue I get during the kids nap times (I especially appreciate those, because you should be getting some rest then too, and instead you’re talking to me). Or when you visit me for a girls pamper day at our favorite nail place (normally a baby sitter is “date night” material, not a trip to get a pedicure). And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt when I marry, you will be by my side, and when I have my own little ones to look after, I can come to you for advise and help when I am overwhelmed.
     So, stop apologizing for being a mother. Those babies will be with you 18-25 years, I’m here for life. I’ll wait, heck, I got the better gas mileage, I’m on my way over. I’ll help with changing and feeding when I get there.

Back to school reflections

So, here I am, on the eve of another school year beginning, at the end of an summer vacation it feels like I just started. The stores are full of supplies waiting to be bought, and classrooms are empty, waiting to be filled with students. So as usual, I begin to reflect on the new school year. With each year comes ever increasing expectations in academic rigor and testing, so much so that it feels like all that matters is the test,  the whole test, and nothing but the test, but we are not and have never been defined by a scantron sheet. There are some things I would like to remind us all-students, parents and teachers – about as the time draws closer.
  Students: You have worth, but build your value. Many a teacher turned motivational speaker mentions to teachers that students need to know that they are valuable and capable of great things, and it is our job as teachers to help bring that greatness out.  And I want to do that for you, with other teachers.  I see the potential in you to do great things, and I want you to work hard to see them in yourself. If you know your capabilities and personal worth, no one can place a false value on you. So work now to build that value in yourself and allow it to grow interest until adulthood.
Parents: We Need You, let’s work together. We both want what is best for your child and for them to succeed. I know for many of you school may have been an unpleasant experience and left you scarred. I can’t change the past, but we can change the future. We need you there with us to build it too. Come to school functions, visit classes,  we love to answer questions and want to help in anyway we can. Working together I know we can achieve that goal
Teachers: You are unforgettable. This past week at a conference I had a chance to hear Kim Bearden, a teacher at the Ron Clark school in Decatur. There was something she said in her address that struck with me. She had all the teachers imagine 20 years down the road at a reunion of our students. The conversation comes to teachers.  One mentioned the kids all remember for her passion for teaching, and love for students, some even say this teacher was the one that got them to grow up and stop fooling around,  or made another significant impact. Another teacher mentioned brought back fond memories, but nothing spectacular.  Another made all the students cringe in horror, and another no one remembers at all. She then asked us, which one she wants us to be. We all knew. And I believe that each of us as teachers has the potential to be unforgettable to a child. So this year, and every year, strive for that. It may be hard, and the days will come when you get tired, and frustrated with the accountability measures and the extra stuff that comes with the job. But when that child comes to you and tells you,  “you changed my life”. I promise,  it will be worth it.  Have a great year everyone!

Requiem for a teacher

                On May 31, 1951 a little girl was born. She went to Jordan High School, and later became a teacher. On Thursday, May 30th of 2014 her body succumbed to a fight against cancer. She was the mother of 2 children, a daughter, cousin, and friend. She was also a dedicated teacher of children. It was in this capacity that I met Mrs. Susan Barbee. I was blessed to have her as my teacher in both kindergarten and 3rd grade. It was there I learned the things that all children learn in school-how to read and write, math, science and History- but she also introduced me to the person of Jesus Christ, and that knowledge of Him led me to the journey of salvation. Bible was one of my favorite classes when I had her because she had a way of making the stories visual and alive. She brought us little surprises on our birthdays, and “just because”. She introduced me to a book that reminds me every time I read it, like just between a Spider and a pig, true friendship can come in the most unexpected of places (and if that friend is a good writer, it’s an extra bonus). In her class I formed friendships with people I still talk to and love almost 3 decades later. She loved her children-both the biological ones, and the ones she taught over the years-, she loved Auburn Football, and-thanks to being a Jordan High Majorette- could twirl a mean baton. She was-and is-one of the teachers I looked to when I made the decision to pursue education and her example of love and Faith is one I look to strive to with my own students. I can recall earlier this year asking some of my K5 classmates about wanting to meet up and take her to lunch, but the timing never ended up being right. And while I am sad I wasn’t able to do that. I know she knows how much we all loved her. And, I’ll be able to make it up to her one day when I see her again. And I’m sure she’ll bring those chocolate chip cookies we all loved. Thank you Mrs. Barbee, I love you.


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