TFW You Realize You’re In Love With Your Captor

Sometimes I feel as if black folk’s self-worth teeters on the impetuous and hateful razor’s edge of racist white institutions. Like the protagonist in Beauty and the Beast, we’ve fallen in love with our captor, and somehow it has become our responsibility to humanize him. I have now lived through enough Oscar seasons to have Read more about TFW You Realize You’re In Love With Your Captor[…]

5 LESSONS TEACHERS CAN LEARN FROM THE LIFE OF FANNIE LOU HAMER: #5.The Writing Classroom is Uniquely Suited for Finding Undiscovered Gems

In part four of this series – “Our Classrooms Benefit from the Voices of our Most Marginalized Students” — I discussed (partly) how valuable the “marginalized voices” are in our classrooms. But really, I was speaking to the notion that the “marginalized” is the majority. I encourage you to check it out, especially in the Read more about 5 LESSONS TEACHERS CAN LEARN FROM THE LIFE OF FANNIE LOU HAMER: #5.The Writing Classroom is Uniquely Suited for Finding Undiscovered Gems[…]

The National Women’s March: Sisters, What Are You Willing To Destroy?

What follows are the remarks and the poem (“Oath: 1957”) I delivered on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the St. Louis arm of the National Women’s March. When I was first asked to participate in the national women’s March, I declined because I thought it was just another example in the long line of examples of Read more about The National Women’s March: Sisters, What Are You Willing To Destroy?[…]

The Feminine Pronoun Series: Poetry. Pedagogy. Justice. (No. 30)

The tagline on my website for Feminine Pronoun Consultants, LLC is “Poetry. Pedagogy. Justice.” Those three powerful terms almost encompass my life/work philosophy. I say “almost” because Parenting is also a major part of my life’s work, as it were, and each of the terms inform each other and take turns being the star, while Read more about The Feminine Pronoun Series: Poetry. Pedagogy. Justice. (No. 30)[…]

The Feminine Pronoun Series No. 29: Old School #HipHop

I come to writing very honestly. Not only was my mother (rest in peace) a writer, but my father is a well-known poet and is currently poet laureate of his home town of East St. Louis, Illinois. The first time my writing truly became public was in the 1990s as a signed hip-hop artist to Read more about The Feminine Pronoun Series No. 29: Old School #HipHop[…]

The Feminine Pronoun Series #25: Ferguson is Everywhere

In this episode I reflect on the impact of Michael Brown’s murder and the Ferguson Uprising on my social justice advocacy, my writing, my teaching and my parenting. An extra special thanks is owed to the ARTIVISTS and to Reverend Sekou and the Holy Ghost for the incredible song, “We Comin” that appears toward the Read more about The Feminine Pronoun Series #25: Ferguson is Everywhere[…]

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)[…]

Representation Matters

I threw the bodiless blonde in the trunk of the car, hoping I’d disposed of it in such a way as to not draw attention to her abrupt disappearance. This was late night espionage. I drove around for days like this. I imagined her painted smile, and her pastel blue eyes with their fixed stare. Read more about Representation Matters[…]

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?

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