Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

30Mar/150

Paul Robeson – Good Speech Endures

Good Speech Endures - Paul Robeson Statement to House UAComm 1956

30Mar/150

Dr. Barbara Sizemore – Reflections and Wisdom via the National Visionary Leadership Project

Dr. Barbara Sizemore
December 17, 1927 - July 24, 2004

African-Centered Educator, Administrator, Advocate, Researcher

barbara sizemore

Below is the series of interview segments featuring the life reflections and wisdom of our Ancestor and great educational exemplar, Dr. Barbara Sizemore.

This series of video clips provides a glimpse of Dr. Barbara Sizemore speaking candidly about her personal upbringing and influences, as well as the trials, tribulations and lessons learned from a life in pursuit of educational excellence for African American children. She also speaks openly about the politics of white supremacy and its heavy influence on African American educational experiences, and provides advice on the way forward for our children and families.

The playlist includes the following major topics:

  • Segregated vs. integrated
  • Northwestern University
  • True American history
  • Head of D.C. Public Schools
  • Problems with standardized tests
  • Passing standardized tests
  • No Child Left Behind Initiative
  • Issue of white superiority
  • Kinship, friendship and politics
  • Misperceptions and advice for young African Americans

Dr. Sizemore's closing words for our young children include the wisdom of Frederick Douglass... "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has; it never will." She continues, "If you want anything out of this country, in this life, you have to struggle!"

Indeed, these words carry meaning for all of us, as we continue to push through this pathology of racism, in search of wholeness for our people - our children, our families and our communities.

29Mar/150

Laura Mvula @ NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert

Such a full and soulful voice...

Listen to Laura Mvula's terrific full-length debut, Sing to the Moon, and you'll hear soulful pop music in Technicolor. The U.K. singer's sonic ambition is boundless: Her intricately layered songs straddle genres, locations and eras in ways that sound entirely original.

Squeezing that sound behind Bob Boilen's desk is no tiny task, as she acknowledges partway through this three-song set in the NPR Music offices. Mvula faces the challenge by seizing an opportunity to showcase her most intimate material; with the help of a small string section, she forgoes some of her flashier songs ("Like the Morning Dew," "Green Garden") in favor of Sing to the Moon's most brooding ballads.

The result shines a spotlight squarely on Mvula's lovely voice and elegant songwriting — both of which are sturdy enough to withstand being stripped of accoutrements. Soak up this performance, then treat yourself to Sing to the Moon if you haven't already. It's one of the best debut albums in a year full of great ones.

18Mar/150

Statement by UVA President Teresa Sullivan on Brutal Arrest of UVA Student Leader Martese Johnson

The following is the text of the statement released by UVA President Teresa Sullivan this afternoon regarding the brutal arrest of student Martese Johnson.

This is far from a strong statement against the brutal treatment of any student attending the university she leads, let alone one who appears to be among the university's most prominent student leaders. She says she's deeply concerned, and wants to learn the truth. No outrage, however, based on the preliminary information she's been exposed to thus far. I suspect there's more to come on this front.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I write to express my deep concern about an incident that occurred on The Corner early this morning and to provide information about immediate steps that I have taken in response.

At about 12:45 a.m., one of our students was injured while Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents were attempting to take him into custody on the sidewalk in front of Trinity Irish Pub. University Police and Charlottesville Police arrived on the scene shortly after the incident occurred. We have not yet clarified all of the details surrounding this event, but we are seeking to do so as quickly as possible.

This morning I met with Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo and University Police Chief Mike Gibson in an effort to learn more about the incident. Furthermore, because ABC is a state agency, I contacted the Governor's office to ask for an independent investigation of the incident. In response, the Governor has asked the Secretary of Public Safety to initiate an independent Virginia State Police investigation into the use of force in this matter.

As the investigation unfolds, eyewitnesses will play an essential role in shedding light on the details of this incident. I urge students and other members of our community who witnessed the incident or have other direct knowledge of it to come forward. Please contact the Virginia State Police at 804-674-2000 immediately.

The safety and security of our students will always be my primary concern, and every member of our community should feel safe from the threat of bodily harm and other forms of violence. Today, as U.Va. students, faculty, and staff who share a set of deeply held values, we stand unified in our commitment to seeking the truth about this incident.  And we stand united in our belief that equal treatment and equal justice are among our fundamental rights under the law.

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

18Mar/150

Video and Outrage Over University of Virginia Student Martese Johnson’s Brutal Arrest by Virginia ABC Officers

martese johnson

Students at the University of Virginia and others throughout the country are becoming aware of a brutal incident that happened at the University of Virginia late Tuesday night. UVA student Martese Johnson was stopped and pulled aside by Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control officers after trying to enter an Irish pub near the university campus late Tuesday night.

According to witnesses, Martese was quickly slammed to the hard ground by ABC officers, and for no obvious reason. Martese hit his face and head on the concrete, causing significant facial injuries, causing lots of bleeding and requiring 10 stitches.

Martese is an active student leader on UVA's campus, consistently voted into leadership positions by his peers during his three years as a student. Photos of his bloodied face and now his booking photo are now floating throughout the internet. But be clear, this young man is by all accounts we've seen among the most upstanding and respected students on campus.

So please save the respectability argument for someone else.

The brief video clip below captures the immediate aftermath of the incident, including Martese pleading with the officers and asking why this happened.

Students and others throughout the country are rightfully outraged, and awaiting a full investigation by the university and multiple law enforcement institutions.

More to come...

17Mar/150

Gregory Porter & Laura Mvula – Water Under Bridges

Here's a video I just came across this evening. I've long loved Gregory Porter's music, but I have to admit I've never heard of this sister Laura Mvula he's performing with on here.

Her voice is so smooth and yet so powerful - and indeed as beautiful as is she. It's a great performance for sure, but I really can't wait to check out more of her music.

Hope you enjoy...

14Mar/150

Dick Gregory the Storyteller @ The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers in Detroit

Mr. Dick Gregory made an historic appearance at The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers on Friday, November 21, 2014 at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. He shared so generously we made a film in four parts. Released every Sunday in February 2015 for Black History Month. Uncut, uncensored with lots of freedom of speech... Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Dick Gregory!

The first clip begins with an introduction, and Dick Gregory comes out at around the 5:25 mark.

14Mar/150

Public Enemy – Fight the Power & He Got Game

This week we observed some news talk show hosts blame hip-hop for the racism we see in the larger society. I think we're pretty safe in assuming that this was either willful ignorance or one of many recent and deliberate attempts to blame Black folks for the racism we continue to experience in this country (and throughout the world). Both are seemingly aimed at deflecting our attention, but too bad for the fool who thinks is that easy.

Hip-hop stands on solid ground. It is today, and always has been, an artistic and cultural protest forum against white racism.

Public Enemy always was, and remains, an exemplar within this tradition, and their message still resonates today.

11Mar/150

Ferguson and the DOJ Report: Racism, Denial and the Triumph of Non-Reason

The recent report of the Department of Justice documenting the racially targeted policies and practices of the Ferguson (Missouri) government operation is one of few opportunities this country gets to look at the inner workings of individual, institutional and structural racism. It's not new information by far, as many of us live with some version of this reality on a daily basis, albeit not all of us with this level of overt intensity. Nonetheless, the unique thing here is that it rarely gets documented with this level of detail.

Unfortunately, if the thinking being expressed by some of the white city residents in this Huffington Post article - and at least one running for elected office no less - is par for the course in terms of the general thought pattern of other whites in Ferguson, then it would seem there's a long road to travel if one hopes to reason with them.

One of the sentiments expressed about the recent DOJ report:

"They tried to go after Officer Wilson,” McGrath said in an interview after the debate on Monday, referring to Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. “When they couldn’t do that, they went after the city."

It gets better:

"I may be a silly old man in all of this, but I don’t think we have a big race issue here,” he said in an interview after the meeting, which was interrupted several times by other white residents who wanted to thank him and offer their support. “We have an issue with that part of town and they’ve been a bad part of town for a long time, sadly."

And better still:

"A lot of the problems with that report is it’s just statistics,” said McGrath. “If you’re the guy pushing the guy to the hall of fame, you’re going to use the statistics that’s going to make him look like the best basketball player ever, and that’s what the report did."

As a trained researcher, I admit that I have a greater appreciation for data and statistics than most. But whether I like them or not is irrelevant. Statistics are numbers that shed light on a particular phenomenon. Whether you like them or not is of no relevance. They are what they are. They can be used for all kinds of purposes, but if they are accurate, then they are accurate. The numbers don't have feelings.  They just exist. And while they don't tell an entire story, they do tell at least a part of the story.

This resident talks about the data, and more specifically the implications of the data, as if this is about a public opinion contest. The data describing the unconstitutional government operation in Ferguson, Missouri show racial discrimination. Not only a racial disparity in outcome, but the combined statistics and other information collected and reported by the DOJ reveal a deliberate targeting and exploitation of African Americans.

The fact that some people don't recognize this is not a matter of differences in opinion. It's a simple refusal - or perhaps an inability, which has different implications altogether - to understand the use of facts in revealing an aspect of reality one doesn't want to agree with.

This thought process, which isn't unusual (think the racialized debates about President Obama by members of Congress), is the real danger of living in a society where elected officials are elected and public policy is shaped based on ideas about the world people want to believe are true, despite evidence to the contrary.

While the DOJ report is helpful in pushing for institutional policy and practice reforms, the work of undoing this deeper kind of ignorance and racist thinking is far harder, but will continue to be necessary, to ensure some level of justice for our people in this country.

Elected officials shape laws, and neither logic nor morality are a given in the process. Every aspect of our work to undo racism and its deep impact on this society must continue.

11Mar/150

How St. Louis County’s Screwed-Up Court System Breeds Resentment