Intimate Partner Violence as an Issue of Workplace Diversity

It wasn’t this picture that fell out of the dead man’s pocket, but it was one very much like it. When I was in the first grade, a friend of my mother’s boyfriend, a man who had sat at our table and had eaten in our home, murdered his girlfriend and then committed suicide. My Read more about Intimate Partner Violence as an Issue of Workplace Diversity[…]

What Do Black Childhood, Charter Schools, and Tamir Rice Have in Common?

what-do-black-childhood-charter-schools-and-tamir-rice-have-in-common

Hint: Harriet Ball was her name, and she passed away in 2011. A veteran teacher from Texas, Ball was observed in the early 90s by two novice teachers, two young white men who were impressed by the way she infused the curriculum with rhythm and mnemonics that engaged the children thoroughly; much more thoroughly than they had been able to do.

Those two men, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, have never denied the origins of their program. But here I sit two and a half decades later wondering if Harriet Ball, who taught for 35 years in the Houston and Austin school districts, knew what the KIPP program became.

Answer: Black and Brown women.  Like so much cultural production in the U.S., the Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP as it is commonly known, was conceived by the genius and love of a black woman.

I enrolled my son in the KIPP charter school when he began 5th grade. I took him out before his 8th grade year ended when we were able to move to a suburban neighborhood with good public schools.

I was slightly familiar with KIPP because I had read poetry at a KIPP Academy in Memphis, Tennessee. So when I saw that there was one in St. Louis, Missouri, I expressed an interest and sent in my son's application. I was heartened when two representatives from the school showed up at my home to talk with me about the program and to have my son and I sign a contract. The contract was designed to impress the seriousness of academics upon us both and to make it clear to me that they expected rigorous parental involvement.

I happily signed the contract and looked forward to sending my son to a school where rigor was the order of the day.

And I have to say, the curriculum was quite rigorous. Each week, my son came home with a packet for each subject. My son still uses the multiplication facts song he learned there, and the accountability he was taught when it came to behavior and completing assignments are others areas of positivity I could point to.

So why is it that when I think of his time enrolled at KIPP I am left with a persistent and a worrisome sadness?

[…]

When Your Colleagues Just Don’t Get Diversity & Inclusion

Your company, or your school, or your non-profit claims they are “committed to diversity,” but by the look of things you can’t tell.  And the truth is, the “Strategic Plan” seems to be to talk about diversity until it’s time to revisit the strategic plan. Or even worse, your colleagues thinking talking about race is racist. Read more about When Your Colleagues Just Don’t Get Diversity & Inclusion[…]

No, People of Color are Not Here to “Spice Things Up”

In the days after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, I posted the following on Facebook: “I wake up to a world where a black led group I was a part of told the white governor to his face: we don’t trust you. I wake up to a black president who delegated a Read more about No, People of Color are Not Here to “Spice Things Up”[…]

An Open Letter to the Dear Sugar Podcast or “If it’s white, say so”

Dear Sugar, I’m writing you because I love your podcast. You’ve created a place in the auralsphere where the big themes – betrayal, parentage, love — are met with measured, loving consideration and made shatteringly personal. Every week I get to hear some shard of myself speak and be acknowledged, or sometimes get its ass Read more about An Open Letter to the Dear Sugar Podcast or “If it’s white, say so”[…]

“Happy” Slaves, Presidential “Mistresses” & the Language of Race

There is no neighborhood in New York city named after a president’s mistress. But there could be. In a world where a major publisher would have to be pressured into taking a book that depicts happy slaves baking treats for their owner, (who happens to be George Washington), the naming of an estate after a Read more about “Happy” Slaves, Presidential “Mistresses” & the Language of Race[…]

Ferguson and Whiteness

After the tragic killing of 20 young children and seven adults (including the killer’s mother) in Sandy Hook, Connecticut at Newtown Elementary, a group decided to create T-shirts emblazoned with the logo “Newtown Strong.” One can be certain that the idea arose as a show of solidarity and support to the many parents and family Read more about Ferguson and Whiteness[…]

The FEMININE PRONOUN Series #9: Act Local; Think Global

In this episode I Skype into a classroom of gifted students at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.  I also support local businesses like Smiles by Design and Human Spaces and Afrosexology.  Along the way I manage to mother my magical brown babies and meet with the bad ass women in my comics reading group.  I’m Read more about The FEMININE PRONOUN Series #9: Act Local; Think Global[…]

The FEMININE PRONOUN Series: “Inaugural Episode”

This is the first  of my “Feminine Pronoun” series where I take you with me around the St. Louis metropolitan area as I mother, teach, write, perform,  support the arts and other artists (especially artists of color and women), and generally try to move through the world doing no harm.  

The FEMININE PRONOUN SERIES #2: Traveling Through Illinois to Read My Poetry

#2 in the FEMININE PRONOUN Series. This video is about Traveling Through Illinois to Read My Poetry. I am listed with Illinois Humanities as a “Road Scholar.” My book is available at via Argus House Press.