Thursday, October 4, 2012

New Idea Launch in 5...4...3...2...

I'm finally launching this idea I've had for a while. Tomorrow, at 8pm, myself, a bass player and a drummer will put Pimp C Poetry to music and see what it feels like. I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life Imitates Art: 3rd Reflection Journal

Last weekend I had the outstanding honor of meeting Sokari Ekine who runs the Black Looks blog.  My friend is a long-time friend of Sokari's and months ago when I mentioned this assignment to her she suggested I look into Sokari's blog and start following her.  I spoke of Sokari's blog in my first reflection journal.  Sokari was in New York City for a conference where she was a guest speaker.  My friend came to NY to meet with Sokari and invited me to lunch with them.  In this way our dialogue was not internet based but live.  We spoke about our experiences abroad, my living in Vienna and Berlin and experiencing European racism; her living in Spain, the United Kingdom and Nigeria and the variety of differences regarding how race is constructed and processed within each of those geographic spaces.

I told her about my EDU 7666 class and she thanked me for sharing her work with my colleagues here at St. Johns.  Sokari writes for Pambazuka, an online Pan African community news magazine, among other media outlets and we discussed a series of pocketbooks that Pambazuka is looking to release.  She recommended me as an author and I followed up and might hopefully have a writing opportunity with the organization.  They are looking to publish small readers for teenagers on Pan-Africanist pioneers and areas of interest on individuals such as Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney and Thomas Sankara.

If there is any lesson to be learned from this experience for those blogging or participating in online discussions, it is that you never know how your shared interests with another will lead to pleasant connections with other like minded individuals.  Remain open and keep in touch.  A friend of mine, Emotion Brown, who is also a blogger, artist and educator, likes to say "stay familiar".  This can mean many things to different people but as an educator and artist, for me this means stay abreast of your ideas, goals, capabilities and world environment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Second Reflection Journal

The last few months have been filled with emotion and uncertainty on the global frontier and education arena.  Teacher lay offs, earthquake and uneasiness about graduation have had me wondering and pondering about what the next few months will entail.  The great thing is that I can always count on my fellow comrades in the struggle to keep me informed, even as I lag in staying abreast of what's happening on a daily basis.

I recently contributed my thoughts abroad to Bra Phil at Die Akte James Knopf.  Phil and I have known each other for a while and he is constantly updating his blog with info about issues of race, class and socialization in Germany.  Phil's blog was entitled "Enter the BioRacial Neo Muslim".  This conversation was important for me because it speaks about the current topic of racial identity and discrimination currently being discussed in Germany as it relates to the Muslim community there.  I plan to keep my students abreast of global issues of social justice and Bra Phil is always current with these discussions in Germany.

If I were working with my students, I would have them remain in touch with this discussion by visiting other bloggers on Bra Phil's list and comparing/contrasting the arguments being made on these sites.  I would also have them parallel arguments with ones being portrayed in online news media or with other popular newspapers online.  Often, the ideas of bloggers counter the popular consensus of media outlets.  It is important for students to know what all points of view are in a debate or discussion.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One Day Soon

I lay here, admittedly jaded and disappointed in the institution of education. I'm compelled to reflect on my experience of becoming a teacher because I can't sleep; my heart beat is irregular and I'm unsettled, feeling some kind of way. I'm not sure what my thoughts were when I started my education program. I have always been good at school so when the "stock market crashed", as I graduated from NYU with my first master's degree, and finding a job became a daunting task, I was cornered. The question of what do you want to do with your life? held me in a dark corner and forced me to think, quickly and purposefully of an answer.

I evaluated my experience; the list of what I knew how to do was long. The list of what I could learn to do even more lengthy but the one thing I felt the desire to do the most was to teach. I remembered 4th grade and the smile on my teacher's face as she looked at me and said "you are smart". I could see me walking across the cafeteria in 6th grade and my TAG (talented and gifted) teacher beckoning me to come closer to say "your walk is regal. You are like the African queens who used to rule". I recall 7th grade and my teacher and friend saying "don't mind the ones who boo you on stage. You will run someone's business one day." Or better yet, run your own, as a teacher would later decide for me. Many other moments of encouragement became my impetus to teach. It is as if I knew the only chance this world has at world peace rests on the backs of its teachers. We are the ones having one-on-one sessions with the future every day. Tomorrow's people are our pupils and I wanted very much to give back the gratitude I felt for the teachers who took the time to speak words of love and inspiration to me.

My only dilemma was that my education background was missing one sheet of paper. A teaching certificate. I thought it absurd that the desire to teach was alas not enough. My years of education and higher education and diverse world education, was not good enough for the system. There was no one to advocate on my behalf and say, here's an exception to the bureaucracy, as there should be. No one to say the paperwork requirement needs to be waived and so after getting rejected from alternative education programs, near broke and impoverished, I enrolled in the first program that would have me. I knew enough about financing graduate school to understand that student financial lenders would love to enslave me with loan debt and education institutions would happily play their part in the scam. I enrolled in school and began this two year journey toward my teaching certificate. What a scam it is to have to pay to do what you love, the oldest yet most common trick in the book. Institutionalized classism. Life taxed. The other way to get eaten alive. But what can you do, start a business with no money? Go dark? (which I considered often)

So here I am, in my last semester. Paying for student teaching as I work for free. Paying to do what I've been doing the last seven years. Paying, essentially, for a piece of paper that says the state of New York and any other state that honors the certificate, can trust that I know what I say I know. All I can do is shake my head at the way things work and each and every day encourage my students to find a better way to structure the world through lesson plans that give hope and content that is refreshing. Curriculum where the instructional plan is fluid and the motivation says we are in this together. That is my dream. Maybe this is what my teachers saw in me--the norm they also wanted to disrupt. Perhaps it will come to pass one day soon, I have hope. I always have hope.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Reflection Journal.One


I subscribed to several blogs and websites, three of which include The New York Times’ Learning Network, Black Looks by Sokari Ekine and The Crunk Feminist Collective.  All of the blogs and websites are inspiring me to consider new ways of creating learning content for my ELA classroom.

The Learning Network is an online source for teachers and educators to find classroom teaching ideas about content found in The New York Times.  Students and teachers can take part in the conversations that happen online by responding to opinion questions, taking quizzes or adapting lesson plans within a variety of subject areas and grade levels. I decided to describe to The Learning Network because I like to use current event and news content as motivation for my lessons.  The Learning Network makes doing this type of activist teaching possible.

Another blog I subscribed to is Black Looks whose principle writer is Sokari Ekine.  I first heard of Sokari through a close friend.  I subscribed to Sokari’s blog because it is updated daily and the topics cover a wide range of activities and musings about education, religion, social justice and social trends.  Most recently she has been writing and sharing about the important issue of gay persecution in Uganda and the death of one of Uganda’s leading gay rights activists, David Kato, who was publicly targeted by the Ugandan government and murdered this week in his home.  Much of what Sokari has been writing about has inspired me to use my classroom as a space to inform students on things happening around the world.

The third of several blogs that I am following is The Crunk Feminist Collective.  This blog is actually a collective of women educators and activists of color who support and encourage collaboration, debate and challenge amongst each other.  I subscribed to their blog because I know that I can always get a range of topics and opinions on topics around women’s issues from a diverse body of thinkers.  In addition, they cross post with other blogs including The Feminist Wire which is another great women’s issues blog creating online content for the world on a daily basis.

(I took the "Imagine" pic in Central Park)