Why Don’t We Crave to See the Families of the Murdered Policemen in Dallas Forgive Micah Johnson?

As the country continues to grapple with the racialized gun violence of the past weeks, several issues of comparison can be explored and discussed.   This is a thought experiment. I have taken an article titled, “Families of Charleston Shooting Victims: “We Forgive You” written by Inae Oh and published on MotherJones.com, and replaced the Read more about Why Don’t We Crave to See the Families of the Murdered Policemen in Dallas Forgive Micah Johnson?[…]

From the South Bronx to Southeast Europe

Today was the final day of the international debate education association (IDEA) program in Macedonia. The two tracks– visual art (graffiti)/comics and hip-hop/poetry – were responsible for presenting their final projects. Prior to DJ Goce’s arrival, I had taken the students through a series of lessons designed to help them write an activist mission statement, Read more about From the South Bronx to Southeast Europe[…]

Good Beats and Good Eats

Today we went “crate digging.”  The students in me and Dj Goce’s group all piled into taxis and went to the town center. There was an open air market where used books and used vinyl was being sold. This process has been really pleasurable and improvisational. The students then went on pick samples and beats Read more about Good Beats and Good Eats[…]

The Global Reach of Blackness

Today I presented about Fannie Lou Hamer. This is a presentation I’ve done many times now, but because of the audience it was quite different. Because the audience was European and specifically people from the Balkan Peninsula, I stopped much more frequently to explain terms. I spent time on “sharecropping” “Jim crow” and explaining why Read more about The Global Reach of Blackness[…]

Mississippi Meets Macedonia

I am traveling to Macedonia in southeast Europe to lead some training for the IDEA organization.  The International Debate Education Association (IDEA) “gives young people a voice through education, debate and by raising their awareness about worldwide issues.” I will be serving as the expert/trainer in the areas of protest poetry and Hip Hop lyrics. Read more about Mississippi Meets Macedonia[…]

A Special FATHER’S DAY episode of the FEMININE PRONOUN Series (#19)

This is a “very special episode” of the FEMININE PRONOUN Series. Father’s Day is coming up and I am the daughter of a Poet. Eugene B. Redmond is a foundational Black Arts Movement poet, professor emeritus, cultural griot, and author of Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro American Poetry. I may be biased, but he is Read more about A Special FATHER’S DAY episode of the FEMININE PRONOUN Series (#19)[…]

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?


The FEMININE PRONOUN Series #3 Do Catholics Do it Better?

Do Catholic Universities host poets better?  Well, they do very well, thank you:)  In this episode I read at Lewis University near Chicago, and share my “unlit bomb” philosophy.  It’s #blackgirlmagic and some #blackboysorcery on full display!